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Muma College of Business to host the Florida Business Analytics Forum in April; Hundreds expected to attend

By Keith Morelli

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TAMPA (Feb. 1, 2017) -- Cutting edge business and corporate leaders know this: Data never sleeps. In fact, it grows exponentially with Internet browsing and purchasing, social media engagement, GPS traffic and health and business transactions that generate massive amounts of data; data that can be mined and used to make strategic decisions that move the bottom line.

Just how to get from raw data to making a ground-breaking, revenue busting decision is the topic of the Florida Business Analytics Forum, set for April 4 in the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business atrium. The event is expected to draw as many as 300 business and corporate leaders from the Tampa Bay area and beyond.

The goal of the symposium is to showcase the culture of analytics-driven innovation, which rapidly is transforming the business world. The event is taking place here to underscore thought leadership and showcase USF's reputation in the state, the nation and the world as one of the leading universities in big data and analytics research.

"The symposium is a big step toward establishing the Muma College of Business' distinctive identity by aligning it with leaders who pioneered the use of analytics to make strategic decisions," said Balaji Padmanabhan, a professor with the college's Information Systems Decision Sciences department and director of the Muma Center for Analytics & Creativity. "The event also will highlight the college's industry connections, real-world relevance, strategic and creative solutions and impactful research inquires."

Industry observers agree that without the right data, business leaders are simply people with uninformed opinions. Big data holds important implications for businesses of all sizes and types. According to software giant Domo: Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Google receives over 2 million search queries and consumers spend $272,070 on web shopping each minute and within these numbers lie clues that can bump profits. Business leaders are beginning to learn that paying attention to such data can help them make informed decisions affecting the directions of their corporations.

"A recent article in Forbes notes that Viacom, owner of household brands such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV, uses real-time data analytics to both better understand their customers as well as to streamline the video-watching experience of their customers," Padmanabhan said. "In addition to learning that viewers who watch two shows are more than three times likely to stay with them than those who watch just one, the data helps them deliver the right content to their customers in an efficient manner."

Keynote speaker at the symposium, Ron Kohavi, is a scientist with Microsoft who is widely recognized for revolutionizing online testing platforms. A preeminent authority on data and analytics and the retrieval of pertinent statistics, Kohavi has a doctorate in machine learning from Stanford University.

Before Kohavi's analytics research findings, it would take Amazon several months to break down big data and now it only takes 24 hours. It's important because data changes every day, every hour. Really, every minute.

Kohavi did this for in the 1990s before he was hired by Microsoft to do the same for Bing and other online platforms.

Throughout the symposium, panels comprised of industry experts and academic researchers will discuss various aspects of big data and showcase research in analytics conducted by scholars in the Muma College of Business as well as other areas of the university.

Among the panelists:

  • Raghav Madhavan, managing director and chief data scientist at UBS Financial Services in New York. Madhavan has spent more than 20 years applying machine learning and analytics to financial services firms on Wall Street. He is known as an out-of-the-box thinker who applies novel techniques to complex Wall Street problems.
  • Omar Besbes, an associate professor in the Decision, Risk & Operations division at Columbia University's business school. His primary research interests are in data-driven, decision making with a focus on applications in e-commerce, pricing and revenue management, online advertising, operations management and service systems.
  • Tracy Bell, senior vice president over enterprise media monitoring at the Bank of America. A USF alumna, Bell has spent the last ten years leading Bank of America's social media monitoring efforts to learn insights that affect every function at the bank.
  • Hari Balakrishnan, one of the co-founders of Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company that applies analytics to change the way insurance works. Its driver's tracking tool is now a mobile app on a consumer device that aids the insurance industry's management of risk.

The symposium is aimed at senior-level business and industry leaders in Florida along with selected faculty members from universities all across the state and the nation. Also attending will be USF faculty, administration and students involved in the analytics programs.

The event, hosted by the Muma College of Business and sponsored by SunTrust Foundation, is free, but reservations are required. For more information visit the event page