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Inside the Inaugural Data Science Showcase at Johnson & Johnson

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How can you apply data science to change the future of health? The inaugural Data Science Showcase at Johnson & Johnson was the perfect place to find out.

The 2019 Data Science Showcase at Johnson & Johnson kicked off with a clear mandate from Pallaw Sharma, Senior Vice President, Digital and Data Science. As he put it in his opening remarks: "Talent is strategy. How do we attract, recruit, motivate and finally retain the top data science talent?"

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By bringing together data science practitioners and business leaders from around the globe, the 2019 Data Science Showcase hinted at how we'll answer that question. And with applications across key functional areas such as R&D, Supply Chain, Commercial, HR, Finance, IT and other corporate functions, it also demonstrated how deeply rooted data science is at Johnson & Johnson today.

Here’s a look inside of the action, with insights from Yuqing Sun, Ph.D., Senior Director, Data Science and Analytics, who led the organizing team for the event.

Leveraging Data Science to Make Real-World Impact

What kind of innovative projects can you be part of as a data science practitioner at Johnson & Johnson? Consider the following:

  • Innovative diagnostic tools that use advanced data science to detect subtle cognitive impairments in patients with Alzheimer's disease
  • New digital tools, powered by data science, for detecting and preventing dengue, a mosquito-borne viral infection that impacts an estimated 390 million people each year

Of course, that's only the tip of the iceberg—there was a whole lot more to be excited about.

“We were simply amazed by the outpouring of interest leading up to the event," Yuqing recalled. After inviting data science practitioners across Johnson & Johnson to submit abstracts, she recalled, "My team decided to set a 'stretch goal' of 200 abstracts. Realistically, this was an aggressive target to reach within a short time frame."

In the end, they received more than 350, out of which 110 finalists—50 speakers and 60 posters—were selected for the showcase.

Lining Up Data Science and Our Credo

The goal of data science at Johnson & Johnson isn't just innovation for innovation's sake. Instead, we're using data science to validate our decision-making processes and ensure we continue to make a positive impact. In that sense, it's intimately connected to Our Credo—a way of validating that we're putting it into practice.

Yuqing underscored the connection: "Our Credo comes into play whenever there are difficult decisions to make. We want those decisions to align with the priorities set in Our Credo, and to be founded in facts, in data. Data science is what allows us do that, so you can see how data science and Our Credo are closely linked."

Building a Community of Data Scientists

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The 2019 Data Science Showcase is a high-profile example of how Johnson & Johnson is actively building a community of data science practitioners. But that's also an ongoing, day-to-day effort, as Yuqing explained.

"We have a number of highly engaged practitioner communities across all of our lines of business," she said. "It's another way for our data science practitioners to build community, connect, learn and grow."

There's also our Data Science Learning Academy, which is part of an online learning curriculum that's available for free to all employees. It's another example of our commitment to increasing fluency in data science across our operation and integrating it into everything we do.

Looking Ahead to 2020

With the runaway success of the 2019 Data Science Showcase, plans are already in motion to stage an even bigger event next year. "It was so inspiring to see our collective energy at this year's showcase," Yuqing said. "We feel that this is an incredibly vibrant space for us."

In fact, data scientists at Johnson & Johnson say their field is approaching an "inflection point," internally as well as externally. Internally, that is, new data modeling techniques, highly advanced algorithms and breakthrough machine learning applications are fundamentally transforming how we think about healthcare products and services at Johnson & Johnson. And externally, there are a number of factors—the explosion of data, for example, and the fact that it's now cheaper and easier to store than ever before—driving the field forward.

On the strength of the evidence, Yuqing concluded: "It's prime-time for data science!"

For us, good data science means doing good in the world.

Join the Data Scientists at Johnson & Johnson Today

We're the world’s largest broadly based healthcare company—which means we have unmatched scale to leverage data and drive real-world impact. Ready to innovate, explore your interests and impact the lives of people everywhere? Check out all of the roles in data science we're hiring for right now, and be sure to sign up for our Global Talent Hub, too. It's a great way to stay in touch, learn more about life at Johnson & Johnson and get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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