Data science is super cool. This is obvious and irrefutable. Still, developing and nurturing a vibrant data science community within an organization comes with many challenges. Few utility companies have centralized, dedicated data science teams; most have only a few, if any, data scientists within their entire organization. For those rare data scientists, there is an additional responsibility – sometimes a burden – to advocate, promote, educate, mentor, socialize, and champion all things data science. In data science circles, this role is known as the evangelist.
The utility data science evangelist is met with a unique set of challenges specific to the industry. In this session, we will discuss these challenges and share several formal and informal initiatives for evangelizing data science at San Diego Gas & Electric, their lasting benefits, and the conditions required for smooth execution. Some examples include technical meetups, practitioner forums, internal “hackathon” events, and other efforts for building coalitions and harnessing the collective enthusiasm towards data science.
We challenge the audience to visualize the ideal data science culture for their own utility company, consider the barriers preventing the proliferation of such culture, and identify their core responsibilities for making it a reality. Through this discussion, we hope the audience will gain some fresh ideas, an appreciation for the people-component of data science, and an expanded optimism for what is possible within their own organizations.