Analytics 2011 was a great event for many reasons. You’re probably thinking of the most obvious reasons like the fact there were 1,053 in attendance, the schedule was filled with top notch presentations, and there were ample opportunities to network with those who shared similar interests. These are all good examples, but think bigger and broader. What I thought made the conference great was the way in which it brought together the best of industry and academia. This is the type of environment in which great things can happen.
This was the first time the Data Mining and Forecasting conferences were combined. This brought together thought leaders from two fields which complement one another and are at the heart of business analytics. A great example of industry and academia working together to develop solutions for today’s problems is the featured presentation Building Structural Econometric Models for Hydrocarbons: A Blended Data Mining and Forecasting Approach by Tim Rey, The Dow Chemical Company and Oral Capps, Texas A&M University.
The conference was ripe with opportunities for academia and industry to come together and collaborate. Thirteen percent of conference attendees were from academia. Eleven universities sponsored the conference which involved having a booth in the demo room. The booths were a place where universities showcased their programs and students. It was also the place where those in industry came and talked with those from academia to discuss the problems businesses face and the type of knowledge and skills needed to find the solutions. This type of exchange helps shape many university programs in ways that facilitate continued innovation.
A hallmark of the conference is the Data Mining Shootout. This is a competition in which data from the business sector is given to teams of students who then strive to develop the best solution. Forty teams registered to participate in this year’s competition. The winning team was from the University of Central Florida – congratulations! The second and third place teams were from Oklahoma State University. Both of these universities have strong programs that produce highly sought after graduates.
Another staple you will find at this conference is the student poster competition. This provides young researchers an opportunity to attend the conference and be immersed in an environment filled with learning opportunities. These student researchers also get to showcase their research and have discussions with leaders in the field of analytics. There were twenty student posters and six student poster winners. In addition to presenting their posters, these students also led round table discussions which gave them an additional opportunity to develop their speaking and networking skills.
If you are a professor teaching data mining or forecasting and are looking for opportunities for your students, consider having them submit a poster or participating in the data mining shootout at Analytics 2012. This is one conference that strives to bring academia and industry together in the pursuit of advancing the field of business analytics.