Mattermost Enables Insight Data Science to Build a Scalable Communications Hub

Insight Data Science runs fellowship programs that help research scientists and software engineers transition into cutting-edge careers in data science, data engineering, security engineering, and DevOps. Insight Fellows have gone on to build successful careers at over 700 top companies from Facebook to Netflix to the New York Times. Program leaders and administrators need a communications strategy that helps them move quickly and scale their efforts. Mattermost enables Insight to run numerous programs more efficiently and build a strong, connected community of over 2,500 Fellows.

Each program has many moving parts

Insight is a relatively small company with less than a hundred employees. However, staff is distributed across seven offices in the U.S. and Canada. Each office runs multiple programs over three sessions per year, which means that program leaders and administrators may each personally interact with 100 to 450 fellows every year. Each incoming fellow needs onboarding to program systems, processes, and information, and as each program runs for only seven weeks, there’s no time to lag behind. Insight staff needed an effective communications solution to help them scale their efforts and meet the needs of a growing body of Fellows.

Insight migrates from Slack to Mattermost

Prior to adopting Mattermost, Insight had been managing communications using Slack. Although Slack allowed staff to distribute information quickly and efficiently, the free version only preserved the most recent messages. This meant that users could only search a very limited message history, and staff had to keep reposting older communications. To truly benefit from modern messaging technology, the company needed a more robust solution.

Mattermost offered Insight the feature set the team needed with the additional benefit of giving Insight complete control over its own data. The platform’s flexibility, intuitive user experience, and powerful search features allowed Insight to build a central communications hub on Mattermost. As a data-centric organization that trains future leaders in data science, Insight wanted to further reinforce its leadership in the space by following best practices when handling its own program data.

How Insight uses Mattermost

Insight uses Mattermost in a variety of ways to keep programs running smoothly for staff and Fellows, as well as build a broader community of Insight alumni.

Always-on internal communicationsInsight staff members use Mattermost to stay in constant contact with each other across the company’s seven offices. The platform helps the distributed team keep important  processes moving forward and stay on track.

Flexible team organizationMattermost allows administrators to configure a team channel architecture that precisely matches Insight’s complex program structure.This helps program staff tailor communications to each specific team, while using community channels to share information that applies to everyone.

Streamlined new fellow onboardingMattermost helps program administrators quickly onboard and orient each new cohort of Fellows from one central platform. Previously, admins would send dozens of emails to new Fellows at the start of each session. Now, they use Mattermost to disseminate important information, as well as remind Fellows of upcoming deadlines or tasks to be completed. Having a central place to post FAQs greatly reduces the need for one-on-one support, which enables admins to better scale their efforts and manage larger cohorts of Fellows.

“Mattermost makes it easy for me to support anywhere from 35 to 150 Fellows throughout a session. It especially helps us onboard Fellows more easily and efficiently.”

Jenna Robinson, Administrative Assistant, Insight Data Science

Efficient team communicationsMattermost helps program staff deliver timely announcements and updates to their team  in a discussion-friendly space. Mattermost’s search capabilities help them save time when crafting similar communications for each new program. 

“Mattermost is a convenient archive of past communications, and the full-featured search allows me to reference and improve communications over time.”

April Swagman, Head of Data Science, Silicon Valley, Insight Data Science

Real-time peer collaborationDuring the first half of a session, Fellows work on a project together and use Mattermost to share ideas and insights, discuss different approaches, and help each other solve problems. Some teams create channels for specific topics and open them up to the broader community of Fellows to ask questions or contribute input.

“We prefer using Mattermost over email for team collaboration, because Mattermost encourages ongoing, real-time discussion.”

Jess Roeder, Director of Product, Silicon Valley, Insight Data Science

Enhanced support for job seekersAfter Fellows demo their projects to companies in the field, many get invited back for a formal interview. This is an exciting and stressful time for Fellows, and program leaders create separate “call back” channels on Mattermost to support them. Fellows can opt-in to the channel and cheer each other on with plenty of emoji-rich messages. Program staff coordinate mock interview sessions to help Fellows practice before their big day. 

“My program’s call back channel—‘Call Me Maybe’—is currently my favorite channel on Mattermost. It’s so rewarding to celebrate our Fellows’ successes as they take the next step in their careers.”

April Swagman, Head of Data Science, Silicon Valley, Insight Data Science

Strong fellow-alumni connectionsInsight alumni are a valuable resource for current Fellows, providing guidance and expertise throughout the program and beyond. The Knowledge Community channel connects past and present Fellows to experts in their field, and serves as a forum for anyone in the Insight network to ask questions, discuss solutions, or share tips.  Because Mattermost is easily searchable, members can avoid repeating common questions and instead find answers in past conversations.

“Over 2500 community members use Mattermost to stay connected to each other and reinforce their sense of community.”

Jess Roeder, Director of Product, Silicon Valley, Insight Data Science

A culture of collaboration

Fellows come to Insight with many different backgrounds and varying levels of exposure to modern workplace technologies. Some have already had industry work experience, and others are coming straight from academia. Regardless of a Fellow’s past experience, Insight sees Mattermost as an introduction to the culture and best practices of modern teamwork. Their brief, but intensive, use of the platform during their time with the program helps fellows build an additional skill set that will serve them well in their career.

About Insight Data Science

Since 2012, Insight Data Science has helped over 2,500 fellows transition to cutting-edge careers in specialized technical fields at more than 700 companies across the U.S. and Canada. Starting with data science, they’ve expanded their community to data engineers, machine learning researchers and engineers, product managers, devops engineers, security engineers, and blockchain engineers.

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