Moderna - Developing AI Literacy, in Practice

jalcott Dataiku DSS Core Designer, Dataiku DSS ML Practitioner, Dataiku DSS Adv Designer, Registered Posts: 1

Name: Jordan Alcott, Associate Director, Analytics Platforms & Data Fluency

Country: United States

Organization: Moderna

In over 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio and integrated manufacturing facilities that allow for rapid clinical and commercial production at scale. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna's capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use and approval of one of the earliest and most effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moderna's mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and auto-immune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past eight years. To learn more, visit

Awards Categories:

  • Best Data Democratization Program

Business Challenge:

Moderna has a very comprehensive learning university where employee upskilling takes place. To develop AI literacy, the AI Awareness program was created in 2022 to promote a general introduction to AI, how it is applied at Moderna, and how employees can leverage it in their role (850+).

Several use cases were identified as a result, which represented as many opportunities to streamline or augment existing projects and processes. There are likely a significant number of such hidden opportunities to unearth, hence senior leadership set out to create an applied version of the program to empower more people across the organization to leverage AI/ML in their day-to-day work.

AI Applied was born in 2022 to promote widespread data literacy, build intermediate AI/ML skills, and enable high-impact self-service Dataiku project delivery. It specifically targets employees who do not necessarily have a data science nor coding background, so that they are able to cultivate valuable projects and accelerate the delivery of these use cases with a low-code/no-code solution such as Dataiku.

Business Solution:

The AI Applied program is a well-rounded learning path designed to equip participants with essential skills in Dataiku, machine learning, and model building techniques. The program spans over a four week training period, with instructor-led live sessions to ensure effective learning.

Following the training, participants are given an eight week capstone project. This project involves building use cases, with a detailed outline provided on how to design and implement the use case using Dataiku. This framework includes twelve different data points to deliver on a high value use case and will be helpful to participants throughout and after the training.

The cohort is divided into small groups, each led by a leader with a data science background. This leader supports the team in preparing their data, building their model, and evaluating model statistics. Throughout the twelve weeks, we also host bi-weekly office hours to answer any questions the participants may have.

The program has seen participation from various business units across the organization. These include the HR Team, Medical Affairs, Commercial Team, Legal Team, Security Team, Finance Team, Digital Team, Clinical Team, Tech Dev Team, and Research Team. The profiles of the participants are diverse, ranging from Analysts and Team Managers to Directors — most of them wouldn’t have used AI/ML daily in their roles previously.

The use cases for the program are identified by participants themselves, therefore this wide distribution of profiles and use cases ensures a holistic learning and application environment for all involved.

Business Area Enhanced: Analytics

Use Case Stage: In Production

Value Generated:

The pilot cohort of the program was initiated last spring, with 25 participants successfully completing the training. As it is instructor-led or happening in small groups, this training is designed to be an intensive and personalized experience, which radically transforms the way that employees think about data and the underlying opportunities, while empowering them to take action.

The program has several benefits:

  • Tool training: The training component introduces participants to a new tool, Dataiku, and provides introductory machine learning training that will yield benefits in the future. It is a conduit for using Dataiku, making many participants aware of its existence and benefits in their work for self-service AI/ML.
  • Use case discovery: All participants are expected to brainstorm use cases that will streamline or enhance their day-to-day work, directly impacting our bottom line. This creates radical new ways to think about what data can help them achieve, and we expect many more use cases to come out as a result, incrementally contributing to building a data-driven culture at Moderna.
  • Use case operationalization: After the twelve weeks, multiple use cases will be live in production. Once a use case is operationalized, its value is tracked in terms of time saved, revenue generated, and customer satisfaction, among other metrics.
  • Employee satisfaction: To improve the program across cohorts, surveys are being sent out and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for training and capstone development is being closely monitored. Employees are reporting higher satisfaction, in large part due to enlarging their skills and creativity on hot topics related to data science.
  • Building culture: The program has been successful in creating alignment on how to think about data science use cases. It has rallied people of varying data proficiency levels and met them where they were in terms of literacy, to bring them to a common understanding about future opportunities.

Participant quote:

“Amazing opportunity and appreciate the support. As mentioned, I view the possibilities and application of data very differently now and adding value to my team, Moderna and ultimately patients.”

Value Brought by Dataiku:

Dataiku is an integral part of the program, as an easy-to-use solution empowering all profiles and skills to create data projects. Benefits include:

  1. Upskilling and networking: The program gathers employees across departments and profiles, who wouldn’t have interacted otherwise. This contributes to building a data proficient culture across the entire organization.
  2. Centralization and transparency: Participants take the outputs back to their teams, which creates new conversations around data. We now have a centralized access to data using the same dataset, filters, and pre-processing ability, which enables employees to work for a single source of truth and empowers them to start their own projects.
  3. Projects can be reused: Participants are also sharing the use cases created during the capstone project with their departments. Dataiku makes it easy to copy/paste projects, recipes, and any other steps to reuse across multiple workflows.
  4. Speed and agility: Dataiku makes it easy to spin up new projects and the training has empowered participants to create many new use cases which help them and their teams accomplish more.

Value Type:

  • Improve customer/employee satisfaction
  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce cost
  • Reduce risk
  • Save time

Value Range: Millions of $

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