This Is How Bol Remains a Frontrunner in Data and AI
To enhance in-house data engineering and data science capabilities and remain a frontrunner in data and AI, Xebia Academy helped set up an extensive in-company training program at webshop bol. The program has been a success since the start and continues to be successful as it has been running since 2018, thereby exceeding expectations. The result is that data professionals at bol maintain up-to-date skills with the latest data engineering and data science knowledge. They can apply that training knowledge directly to their day-to-day work, supporting bol.com’s overall business.
22 September 2023
bol.com wanted to remain a frontrunner in Data and AI and keep its competitive edge.
Enhance its in-house Data Engineering and Data Science capabilities for its data employees.
We set up an extensive in-company training program comprising of 15 to 20 courses per year, running since 2018.
Data for decision-making first
Founded in 1999 as a pure internet company, bol doesn’t have the baggage of traditional organizations in becoming data-driven. The company’s advanced analyst Melissa Perotti explained, “Decision-making at bol is based on data first. The data doesn’t confirm someone’s hunch; it tells us where to go.”
As the largest e-commerce platform in the Netherlands and Belgium, bol.com has vast amounts of data for decision-making at its fingertips. “We use data science in many places—our search engine and recommender systems, forecasting of sales and customer service, and our chatbot. We have a mature data landscape and are proud of what we have achieved so far—and we’re ready to take it all to the next level.”
Over the past two years, bol.com’s data science capability quickly matured, and now the shopping platform’s next challenge is to extend this beyond its data engineers and data scientists.
Advanced Analyst at bol.com
“Xebia understood how we envisioned the direction to develop our data science capabilities. It was also really flexible in setting up the data and AI learning programs, so the courses were perfectly tailored to our situation, and the material was very applicable to our work.“
Keep learning to stay at the forefront of Data Science
Being a frontrunner in the Dutch data science landscape is a great advantage, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Staying at the front, especially in a field that evolves as quickly as the data and AI space, means never resting on your laurels.
Perotti elaborates: “Attracting great data scientists to work at bol.com means having a strong development program. We started ours about two years ago. We also founded a data science community within bol around the same time to improve cooperation and knowledge sharing among data scientists, not just internal capabilities.”
* GoDataDriven is Xebia | Data’s legal predecessor.
Great fit with Xebia
For the data engineering and data science training program, bol sought a partner to support their journey. The two main criteria for its program were applicability and being up-to-date with the newest technologies and models. After comparing different partners, bol.com chose Xebia. “Xebia understood how we saw our data science capability and where we wanted to go,” said Perotti. “It was also really flexible in setting up the programs, so the courses were perfectly tailored to our situation, and the material was very applicable in our work.”
When bol.com kicked off the training program, it tested to see what worked best. “It was a challenge to ensure the applicability of a course where employees with different backgrounds come together. That learning process is still ongoing, and we feel we’re getting better at it with every step we take,” explained Perotti.
Perotti elaborates: “Attracting great data scientists to work at bol.com means having a strong development program. We started ours about two years ago. We also founded a data science community within bol.com around the same time to improve cooperation and knowledge sharing among data scientists, not just internal capabilities.”
A wide range of courses
The in-company training program offered a wide range of courses to data professionals at bol.com. Courses included programs for data science starters like Python Essentials, but also more advanced courses such as Deep Learning.
Most of the courses are part of the Xebia Academy’s training curriculum and were adapted to fit bol’s needs. For example, the A/B Testing and Experiments course was split into technical and non-technical training. The technical training focused on data scientists and ways they could apply experimenting in their day-to-day work. The non-technical training was aimed at managers to give them an insight into the possibilities.
To train the right employees, bol developed an “a la carte menu” displaying the different types of courses. This ensures that participants sign up for a training that fits their needs.
“Xebia understood how we saw our data science capability and where we wanted to go. It was also really flexible in setting up the programs, so the courses were perfectly tailored to our situation, and the material was very applicable to our work.“
Extending the training program
Participants at bol value the training courses, with an average score of 8.0. Perotti also attended several courses, with the Introduction to Deep Learning course standing out for her.
“The training was a great combination of theory and practice. We worked with text models because we use these a lot at bol — for our chatbot, search engine, product descriptions, you name it. What I learned in the training was very applicable to my work”, said Perotti.
After starting the program for bol in 2018, the program was extended with several additional courses. Training courses we have also offered are, for example, the Data Science for Product Owners, Reinforcement Learning, and Kotlin Professional Developer training courses, among others.
Perotti further elaborates on the collaboration between Xebia and bol.com. “Xebia understood how we envisioned the direction to develop our data science capabilities. It was also really flexible in setting up the data and AI learning programs, so the courses were perfectly tailored to our situation, and the material was very applicable to our work.”
Skills and tools applied
Data Literacy Upskill Program
For teams and organizations
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The A/B Testing and Experiments training course will teach you everything you need to know to successfully run your own experiments. Optimize your choices, gain the skills to experiment confidently, and make informed decisions based on insightful analysis.
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