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5 Key Ideas from the University of Akron’s Business Analytics and Innovation Summit

On September 30, Paragon Shift sponsored the University of Akron's Business Analytics and Innovation Summit, where we explored how digital transformation empowered businesses to harness their data to drive efficiency and optimize decision making.


The Summit hosted speakers and presenters: Sean Mancini, Signet Jewelers; Mark Ruffling, Cleveland Clinic; Nate Turner, FirstEnergy Corp, Dean R.J. Nemer, College of Business - The University of Akron, and Michael Conley, Cleveland Cavaliers.


Hands-on workshops were hosted by Macauley Kloetzky, Microsoft; Hope Foley, Microsoft; and Dr. Liping Liu, The University of Akron.


Speakers from summit shared how their organizations used data to drive efficiency, innovation, and decision making along with employee engagement and motivation.

In case you missed it, or if you need a quick refresher: below are the key ideas discussed by the speakers at the summit.


Mark Ruffling, Assistant Director: Enterprise Analytics: Cleveland Clinic


Mark ruffling emphasized the importance of enablement in organizations, which involves making continuous efforts to ensure that all employees can read, write, and work with data. Mark explained that while 75% of people in an organization have access to analytical tools and are asked to read data, only 21% of people feel confident in their data literacy skills.


The gap between the need for and accessibility to data literacy drove Cleveland Clinics to invest in virtual trainings, workshops, shadowing programs, e-learning modules, and other training methods to make data literacy available to everyone.


The story of Cleveland Clinics highlights the importance of enablement across the whole organization, especially with the increasing demand to make data-driven decisions.


You can watch the full presentation on this link.


Nate Turner, Data Scientist: FirstEnergy Corp


FirstEnergy Corp used data analytics and predictive data analysis to guide maintenance activities.


What was unique about their approach is that they presented their data in an easy-to-understand GIS tool. FirstEnergy Corp's maintenance personnel were then trained on the tool, which empowered them to have direct visibility and decision-making capabilities to prioritize maintenance efforts.


Just like in the case of Cleveland Clinics, FirstEnergy Corp understood the importance of empowering front-line employees to make decisions based on data. Additionally, empowering end-users and non-technical employees to be data literate encourages employee engagement, retention, and involvement.


You can watch the full presentation on this link.


Sean Mancini, Director Digital Supply Chain Analytics: Signet Jewelers


Sean Mancini discussed three keepsakes that can help companies through their analytical journey:

  • Mindset: Beginning a data transformation journey with the right mindset is crucial to ensure that an organization's efforts meet the right objectives. Organizations need to approach their data objectively while simultaneously taking their data's context into consideration. Analysts in an organization need to make sure that they ask the right questions before they start their data analysis process and then guide all their efforts into answering those questions.

  • Toolset: There is a variety of tools and solutions available to help with data cleaning, preparation, visualization, and analysis. While ultimately each organization chooses the tools that best fit its needs, it is important for organizations to not limit themselves with one toolset to capitalize on the advantages of the multiple toolset available.

  • Imagination: To create change in an organization, analysts must overcome the limitations that they think are associated with data and analytics, and let their imagination take them to new insight. Thinking outside the box helps them create new and innovative methods to optimize processes and continuously improve the way that they do business.

You can watch the full presentation on this link.


Mike Conley, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President: Cleveland Cavaliers


Mike Conley discussed how his team of data analysts and data scientists analyzed customer preferences and behaviors to come up with unique experiences for their fans.


In one example, Mike's team wanted to encourage fans to attend the game in the venue, and they realized they they could achieve this by creating unique memorable experiences for them. They used ticketing information like name and emails of the attendees to showcase customized greetings for each fan in a tunnel leading to the venue.


Mike’s team is also working on creating interactive experiences for fans watching the game from home, by recreating images of players and turning them into graphical elements. This gives fans a ‘six degrees of freedom’ motion, where they can manipulate the angles and views through which they are watching the game according to their preferences.


You can watch the full presentation on this link.


R.J. Nemer, Dean College of Business: The University of Akron


R.J Nemer owned a sports agency for 17 years and gave his audience insight on how sports teams or organizations use data and information to guide their marketing processes, contract negotiations, advertising campaigns, and others.


R.J Nemer delved into the details of how organizations that sell sports products gather and use data to determine the number and identities of players that they want to have sponsor their products. Similarly, sports teams gather such data to identify the ‘value’ of players when negotiating their contracts.


You can watch the full presentation on this link.


In short, it was a blast!


We enjoyed witnessing how an organization's data can transform its processes and listening to the speakers' share their experiences. For those who attended, we loved having you there. If you missed it, we hope we see you in next year's summit!

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