OPINION16 December 2021

Analytic bias: challenges for the industry

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We have a duty in  to continue to try to address the challenge of bias to ensure the best results, says James Oates.


Bias in data analytics is a broad subject, but an important one that I want to address to ensure that we manage bias effectively within the analytics industry. This is because I believe there will be a more public debate on how perceived data bias impacts groups of people, and we need to be ahead of that conversation.

Data analytics has been at the forefront of the national news throughout the pandemic. One of the more challenging areas connected to analytics was the proposed use of algorithms to estimate the exam results of children in 2020. In principle, using predictive modelling to replace exams was not a bad idea. As questions were raised on fairness to pupils, however, the algorithm was dropped and replaced with teacher predictions.

The proposed approach brought to the public conscience the idea of bias in data-led algorithms and the negative impact it can have on a large community of people. There will, of course, have been some potential ...