Demystifying QuantumBlack Labs: An Inside Perspective of Our Innovation Hub

Hamza Oza, Senior Designer, QuantumBlack and Visiting Tutor at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London

The advanced analytics industry has matured significantly in recent years and today’s analytics teams now include product managers and designers as well as engineers. However, it can sometimes be difficult for those joining the industry to understand how this mix of disciplines work together — and appreciating how an advertised role works in the context of a wider team is often one of the most daunting tasks when searching for new jobs. With the QuantumBlack Labs team currently expanding, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a tremendous example of how this mixture of specialists can work together in a non-consultancy capacity — as well as demystifying one of the most exciting departments within our organisation.

QuantumBlack Labs is the innovation hub powering much of our analytics work carried out across QuantumBlack. Our team of engineers, data scientists, designers and product managers are responsible for building innovative products that accelerate work in AI and machine learning, helping to solve problems at speed and scale. Alongside developing industry-leading open-source products, we effectively serve as the research and development department for QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey, helping to encode best practices from our client work. It’s a fantastic team to join, whether you’re new to data science and product design or an experienced practitioner.

How QuantumBlack Labs fits within QuantumBlack

Designing Products With A Choose To Use Mindset

At QuantumBlack Labs, our colleagues work in multidisciplinary teams consisting of a product manager, designer, and multiple engineers. Some teams may also include data scientists and data engineers, depending on area of focus. While all teams work towards our common organisational goals, each team has the autonomy to decide how they choose to implement them, setting the vision and goals appropriate to their product.

This setup allows teams to be creative and leverage their individual knowledge and expertise. Cross-collaboration is at the heart of our culture and by working in smaller groups with a flatter structure, colleagues have the freedom to work on projects that matter to them with an increased sense of ownership and responsibility.

Design insight is a central principle within QuantumBlack Labs. Even the most technically proficient product is useless if it remains untouched on the shelf and so the team maintains a consistent focus on developing tools that people choose to use, whether the product is open-sourced or not. All aspects of the design process, from user research and journey mapping to creating prototypes for user testing, are leveraged to create more user-centric products throughout QuantumBlack Labs.

Key products and innovations

Our products are the lifeblood of QuantumBlack and our forward-thinking team has a history of creating industry-leading products. We’ve developed a variety of open-source products like Kedro, a Python framework for building robust, scalable and easily deployable data pipelines. Part of its long-lasting appeal has been its ability to be reproduced to close-sourced applications. An example of this product progression and innovation is Brix, a code-sharing platform that improves collaboration between data scientists, data engineers and machine learning engineers across projects.

A demo of Kedro-Viz is available here

Another open-source innovation developed by the Labs teams is CausalNex, a Python library supporting data scientists and domain experts to co-develop models that go beyond correlation and consider causal relationships. CausalNex provides a practical ‘what if’ library, which can be deployed to test scenarios using Bayesian Networks.

Continuous improvement remains at the heart of our work and delivering innovative solutions internally is as important as delivering for our clients. In the face of this constantly changing landscape, QuantumBlack developed a library of organisational protocols and a flexible framework that informs the way we deliver advanced analytics at scale. Inspired by Formula 1 pit stop teams, over 250 QuantumBlack employees contributed to this best practice enabled by bespoke technology designed to accelerate our projects and improve the overall experience for teams and stakeholders.

Working at QuantumBlack Labs is a fantastic opportunity to work with brilliant minds on the edge of industry-leading innovation. As discussed above, our engineers, data scientists, project managers and designers have developed world-changing tools while working on client projects and the application of these tools are endless. Each career path offers colleagues rewarding day-to-day work and the possibility of improving our clients’ operations and wider society.

If this article has inspired you to join QuantumBlack Labs, the team is actively hiring for multiple roles across levels globally. By joining the team you’d be part of a group of like-minded analytics practitioners helping build products used by data scientists, machine-learning experts, and data engineers across the industry. The culture and ethos provides an exciting, collaborative working environment, focused on mentoring and professional growth, already made up of a diverse community and over 40 different nationalities.

Please visit the QuantumBlack careers page to view our current vacancies. For more information on life at QuantumBlack be sure to listen and subscribe to the QuantumBlack Voices podcast (Apple Podcasts & Spotify) and Instagram.

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