There’s nothing new about guilds. In fact the idea of forming “an association of craftsmen or merchants for mutual aid and protection” goes back hundreds of years. But I’m sure the early guild pioneers couldn’t have predicted the nature of the topics of the two guilds our people have created to hone their applied intelligence skills and share leading practices—data science and data visualization.

people in psychedelic tunnel

As a senior manager within Accenture’s Global IT organization, I’m passionate about delivering innovative work that operates with the rigor and scale needed for our complex, multi-matrixed organization. And I’m thrilled to support these two applied intelligence guilds that are bringing together a community of like-minded people from various areas of the organization to share ideas and thinking.

I thought you might be interested in taking a look at how we run these guilds and the benefits that can be realized in terms of collaboration and inspiration as a route to innovation.

Data Science Guild

Born from the demand for data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) skills, the data scientist is a critical role in our organization—and one that’s forming a growing community.

Our data scientists use scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to identify patterns and insights from data and enable computers to automatically learn from data. Although projects involve working as an individual, there is a strong need for collaboration, such as the stakeholder interaction necessary while a data scientist strives to understand, develop and build solutions that complement business needs.

Accenture’s data scientists are responsible for fixing operational issues or processes, either for our own business or externally for clients. A typical project might be to build in an analytics layer to an existing technology solution to improve the user experience. For instance, our data scientists worked on a Win Probability Predictor that predicts the ability to win an opportunity with 97% accuracy—in less than three seconds—and helps sales teams to take strategic actions to increase win probabilities.

Our Data Science Guild, led by Aonghus McGovern and Angel Rodriguez, helps to facilitate collaborative practices, virtually bringing together a community of around 100 data scientists to discuss current projects, technologies of interest, or high-level concepts that may be relevant to their data-to-day activities. The goal is to strengthen their craft, build their skills and share lessons learned.

A call for topics to the group defines what’s on the agenda. For instance, a recent subject was machine learning operations, specifically how machine learning models are managed in a production scenario.

Through the regular call series, participants can find out more about who’s building what and how in Accenture and get to the heart of what’s successful and where the pitfalls lie in various projects.

Data Visualization Guild

Another guild that has been thriving since 2016 is the Data Visualization Guild, led by Lisa Gullo. With more than 330 members it offers a platform to introduce updates (including new assets, such as training material), share best practices, create innovations and contribute to our Applied Intelligence team.

The Guild regularly attracts active engagement from data visualization specialists from all over the world. Their role? The graphic visualization of information to provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers and patterns in data. As one of our Guild members said recently: “The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”

A monthly invite is sent to all those who follow the dedicated internal portal page or Yammer community. Topics are selected in advance based on popular demand and typically involve some type of interactive demonstration. Through these sessions, Guild members enjoy a rich and varied number of topics, such as learning about the integration of Power Apps and Power BI, the analytics experience playbook or data storytelling.

Every few months the Data Visualization Guild hosts a challenge where the Guild provides participants with a dataset and business requirements and asks them to build out a dashboard. The results are then judged by Guild administrators and a winner is selected based on data visualization best practices.

Going for guild

I’m excited at the prospect of fostering these communities further to help people grow their skills in a peer-to-peer environment. There’s no shortage of knowledge in Accenture and our Guilds mean we can tap into that, quickly and easily, so we can respond to challenges. Learn more about the work of our global IT applied intelligence team in this case study

Stephen Redmond

Director – Global IT, Research & Innovation

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