Articles

2018 Florida Business Analytics Forum to Feature Tech Experts From All Over the Nation

By Keith Morelli

TAMPA (February 5, 2018) -- On the surface, artificial intelligence is a way to help humankind reach new levels of existence, enhance healthcare, facilitate leaps in technology and even bump the marketing of products and services to a more sophisticated level.

Beneath the surface, researchers are noticing what may be an unintended, "Black Mirror"-ish trend to machine learning. In their endeavors to learn on their own, machines – in some cases – seem to be picking up on human biases.

For example, Google's speech recognition algorithm, researchers have found, responds better to male voices than female voices. It's not that the technology is sexist. Rather, it was programmed – or trained – on unbalanced data, meaning mostly male voices.

These and other developments in the world of data analytics will be examined at the Florida Business Analytics Forum, which is coming back to the University of South Florida; this year taking place in a larger venue due to the overwhelming response at last year's inaugural event. To register for this year's event, click here.

Topping the 2017 version of the forum wasn't easy, but the slate of speakers at this year's conference is just as impressive, if not more. The venue was moved to the Marshall Student Center's ballroom to accommodate the anticipated attendance, expected to be around 400. The forum is scheduled for May 15. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch. The presentations are expected to last until 5 p.m. at the latest.

Discussions will touch on topics such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, algorithmic fairness, health-care analytics and various ways to interpret big data.

Balaji Padmanabhan, director of the Center for Analytics and Creativity and professor in the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, is the coordinator of the forum.

"It is an honor to host such amazing analytics thought leaders at USF," he said. "We strive each year to bring speakers who showcase not just the leading edge, but who highlight futuristic opportunities for business leaders and analytics professionals.

"Given our topics and speakers this year," he said, "I can guarantee that every attendee will walk out with actionable insights they can apply in their own firms."

The four guest speakers anchoring the event are experts in the cutting-edge areas of data analytics and will showcase their proficiency in several forward-looking topics. Coming from all over the nation, they are:

Valliappa Lakshmanan

Valliappa Lakshmanan, tech leader of Big Data and Machine Learning Professional Services at Google in California. He has spent more than two decades in machine learning and is currently closely involved with Google Cloud integration. He will discuss benefits and drawbacks for companies that are moving machine learning technology to the cloud.


Frank Yiannas

Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart in Arkansas. The USF alumnus pioneered the use of blockchain at Walmart to detect food-safety issues in near real-time and oversees probably the best blockchain use in retail to date.



Tina Eliassi-Rad

Tina Eliassi-Rad, associate professor in the Network Science Institute of Northeastern University in Massachusetts. She will discuss fairness and bias in machine-learning algorithms. Her topic looks at whether algorithms unintentionally carry or exacerbate human biases. She is one of only a few machine-learning researchers looking into the bias issue and she will talk about how to guard against bias in machine-learning algorithms.

Erich Huang

Erich Huang, assistant dean of biomedical informatics at Duke University in North Carolina. He will talk about big data and health-care analytics. He is an expert in both machine learning and health care and will focus on what the future holds for machine learning and artificial intelligence in medicine.



Data analytics is a significant strength and an area of strategic focus at the USF Muma College of Business, and the topic now is folded into much of the curriculum. The faculty here also has achieved a national level of recognition for its research along these lines and the quality of education they offer to students.

Last year's inaugural analytics forum attracted more than 250 attendees, squeezed into the Muma College of Business atrium for the day of PowerPoints and panel discussions featuring world renowned experts in the field of business data analytics. "Data never sleeps" was the mantra of the event then, and holds true to this day. On the business side of the issue, experts say methods of data collection and analytics are on the verge of changing the way businesses market their products to the consumer.

Microsoft, for example, constantly conducts data analytics experiments – as many as 300 a week – as a way to improve the product and bump revenue. Little tweaks here and there can result in tens of millions of dollars in boosted profits not only for the software giant, but for other corporate partners as well.

This year's forum will include panel discussions in which regional executives will talk about how analytics play out in their respective industries.

The attendees of the forum typically are cutting-edge business leaders, corporate executives and invited faculty from across the nation.

To register for the event, click here.

Note: this event is primarily for business professionals but, space permitting, we may consider student guests.

View the forum website