Upskilling transforms Jabil employees into data scientists

The global manufacturing services provider struggled to find data scientists to leverage its data, so it developed them internally with its Citizen Data Science program.

Upskilling transforms Jabil employees into data scientists
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Several years ago, manufacturing services company Jabil was sitting on a goldmine of data that could drive its business decisions but had no practical way to leverage it.

The company, which boasts more than 200,000 employees around the world, had set out on a Factory of the Future initiative to modernize its more than 100 plants in more than 20 countries. The aim was to pull data off the manufacturing lines, perform analytics on that data, and use insights from that analysis to improve its processes. But like many organizations, Jabil was struggling to find the data scientists to help it bring its data to bear.

"I was convinced for the longest time that there's only three data scientists in the world and they just move around," says Jabil CIO Gary Cantrell. "We just had no luck finding and recruiting those individuals. We've figured out the code since then, but in the beginning, it was a little tough for us."

Even if data scientists could be found, getting them up to speed on the domain expertise required was a daunting prospect. Jabil's business is complex. Its services span industry-specific design engineering for each industry it supplies, from healthcare, to defense, computing, storage, and networking. It also provides manufacturing and supply chain services for the electronics manufacturing and consumer industries, as well as materials technology services.

"You could go out and pay a lot of money and get true data scientists, but we found out there was a fairly elongated process of training them and getting them familiar with your business," Cantrell says.

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