Q&A: Why Should We Recognize Big Data Innovators?

photo of numbers on blue background to show data files

photo of numbers on blue background to show data filesDrexel University’s LeBow College of Business recently announced the winners of its 2017 Drexel LeBow Analytics 50, an initiative that spotlights best practices and recognizes organizations using analytics to solve business challenges. The winners were announced on Information Management’s website and will be honored at an event on Nov. 2 at Drexel. Local winners include QVC, Vanguard and Pfizer while Southwest Airlines, The North Face, GE, Viacom and Pabst Brewing Co. are among the national big data innovators.

Data initiatives and advanced analytics provide a wealth of information that can help put a company ahead of its competition, according to Murugan Anandarajan, PhD, professor, department head of LeBow’s Decision Sciences and MIS, and academic director at the Dornsife Office for Experiential Learning. Anandarajan explained why it’s important for industry to partner with academia on next generation analytics.

Why Analytics 50?

As the variety, velocity and volume of data collection grows, organizations are finding more and more innovative ways to solve complex problems using their data. These data-driven solutions could use descriptive, predictive, prescriptive or cognitive analytics. The Drexel LeBow Analytics 50 is a way to identify, recognize and share organizations’ innovative use of analytics to create business solutions. Bringing the recognition full circle, we then share these types of solutions in the classroom at LeBow to demonstrate real applications of analytics to our students.

Why are big data initiatives and advanced analytics important?

In today’s business ecosystem, gaining competitive advantage is exceedingly difficult. Big data is viewed as one of the last frontiers of achieving an edge against competitors. Big data includes unstructured data such as text, video, social media and speech. Analyzing this type of data provides insights that aren’t available in structured data, the type of data traditionally used by organizations. Structured data includes information organized into databases that is easily searchable such as zip codes and phone numbers. Big data initiatives can help identify new opportunities and solve complex problems through advanced analytics.

What are some of the challenges analytics can help solve?

The use of analytics is transformative when it comes to decision-making. Analytics can be used as a strategic resource for improved outcomes such as understanding consumers, identifying organizational priorities, and cutting costs. Making decisions using gut instinct is an approach of the past. Being better-informed and making decisions on the basis of facts leads to smarter organizational choices – and ultimately, more successful results.

This year’s Analytics 50 honorees have used analytics to create impressive solutions to combat crime, help populations in poverty, improve athletic performance and reduce the carbon footprint of their organizations.

How can industry partner with academia for the use of next generation analytics?

Academia produces analytics research of theoretical frameworks. By creating partnerships between industry and academia, this type of cutting edge research can be applied to real world problems to achieve innovative solutions. Such partnerships can occur through analytics centers, innovation centers or solutions centers that exist within universities.

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