Data Science Powered Stealth Fighter Jets
Northrop Grumman is a global aerospace technology company and one of the largest defense contractors in the world. The company manufactures a variety of aircraft and integrated software-defined systems, including flagship programs like the B-21, Global Hawk, James Webb Space Telescope, E-2 Hawkeye, and F-35.
The majority of executives surveyed by Gallup say that within two years, greater data and analytics skills will be required of everyone in operations, finance, accounting, marketing, and sales in their companies. Northrop’s CEO knew he had to adopt analytics across his company. But the job market for data scientists is stacked against firms, and do-it-yourself, prepackaged training fails to create the community of practice that moves company culture. Northrop needed a data-driven transformation solution.
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“We must apply analytics everywhere, from our products and services to engineering and manufacturing to operations and business planning. Data science helps us identify patterns, which improves the quality and speed of our decision making.”
Wesley G. Bush
Chairman at Northrop Grumman
An Objective of Build New Skills and Bid on New Business
Abt missed opportunities within an exploding subset of private and public-sector projects: data-heavy analysis and data-driven strategy. Abt could not engage as many of its staff as it wanted to on the types of interesting projects that made them feel fulfilled in their jobs, dampening their employee retention and hamstringing their talent development. Both of these factors had the potential to suppress Abt’s profits and growth in the years to come.
Given the upside-down labor market for data science talent, Abt faced a difficult problem shared by many firms today: hiring data scientists on the job market is expensive and new hires are typically unequipped with the domain knowledge and company experience that would make them efficient employees. But by training up internal staff, Abt Associates can empower their staff with new data skills built on their existing expertise. Designing and delivering an internal data science training program is outside of Abt’s core competency, not to mention that it is difficult for any internal team to carve out the time and talent to take on such a project.
Our Approach: A Data Science Academy
Northrop selected Data Society out of eight proposals to build a data science academy with the modalities, curricula, and expertise that addressed its needs. First, Northrop needed training that modalities to accommodate its globally distributed workforce, minimizing cost and maximizing five benefits:
- Assistance with ongoing projects
- Development of a community of practice
- Sharing use cases and developing networks within the company
- Delivering immediately applicable skills
- Student-instructor interaction
Second, Northrop needed training with a curriculum relevant to its engineering use cases, software systems, and technology platforms. Third, in order to enable a company-wide data-driven culture, Northrop needed a trainer with the mastery to teach basic data literacy and visualization simply and accessibly for those new to the discipline, and also the expertise to instruct advanced data analytics skills like text mining and neural networks.
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