The Business Analytics Forum is a small group of organizations, each having business analytics as a central component of its business strategy and operations. Forum participants meet twice each year to help each other develop competitive strategies and to share best practices in the implementation of business analytics.
Day one of the bi-annual Business Analytics Forum at The University of Tennessee began early; for some maybe a little too early. The night before the official beginning of the forum, several business analytics masters students took part in a data visualization competition. In the competition, students groups were challenged to provide insight on given census data and suggest strategy for improved census form collection. The winners of the competition presented their findings at the forum and discussed their methods with Stephen Few.
This forum’s keynote speaker was Stephen Few, one of the world’s renowned experts and thought leaders on business analytics, quantitative techniques, and data analysis. Few founded the consultancy firm Perceptual Edge in 2003. With 25 years of experience as an innovator, consultant, and educator in the fields of business intelligence and information design, he is considered a leading expert in using data visualization so that individuals can make sense of data and properly communicate it. During the morning session he conducted an interactive half-day seminar on how to effectively present and analyze quantitative business data, reminding the attendees that “the value of information depends on how it’s used” and to “use it wisely.”
The afternoon speaker, Tim Wilson, maintained Stephen Few’s assertion that analytical acumen was more important that any technology when it comes to successful business analytics. The two, however, differed in their feelings on Twitter—Tim Wilson encouraging the attendees to tweet at him. He shared the importance of process in achieving valuable results in business analytics, detailing a process called ADAPT.
The second day of the forum was just as exciting. Dr. Ken Gilbert, the former Business Analytics Department Head, who now focuses on the development of the Cherokee Farms campus, began the day with an update on business analytics in Knoxville and the state of Tennessee. The discussion not only valuable for the business leaders attending the forum, but the students in attendance also gained insight on how the field of business analytics is expanding and how to become leaders in the field. Furthermore, Dr. Gilbert spoke specifically about Cherokee Farms campus and how big data analytics will play a significant role there.
The day continued with Andy Drake from Capital One, who performed several visualization demonstrations in Tableau, a program that the Masters students are learning. The day ended with student presentations about their internship experience from the summer.
More information about the University of Tennessee Business Analytics Forum can be found here.