Harnessing the Power of Big Data

In today’s data-driven world, systems in cars are better than humans at knowing when you are too tired to drive. And thanks to the analytical magic performed by data scientists, semiconductor manufacturers can save $4,000 per minute of downtime by knowing beforehand when their equipment will wear out.

Panelists included: Gabriele Compostella and Nadine Strobel from Volkswagen Data:Lab; Michaël Hoarau from GE Digital, Chiara Di Fonzo from LVMH; and Charles Beneteau from Dataiku.

These are just two of the many different use cases shared with students at the Big Data in Business Conference, hosted by the MBA’s Tech Club. More than 100 MBAs braved the January 30th snowstorm to learn how analytics, AI and deep-learning modules are driving transformation.

“We wanted to show students how big data is helping leaders solve their business challenges in different sectors: automotive, manufacturing and luxury, and how they could implement these tools in their professional path as future managers,” says Natalia Navarro, MBA ’20, a conference co-organizer. The event took place thanks to the MBA Technology Club’s “Project Incubator,” in which MBAs pitch and develop an initiative that brings value to the student community.

One takeaway from the conference is that big-data disruption is literally everywhere. Even LVMH’s stately maisons are leveraging data in everything from their social media posts to the retail experience. “We use data to create a personalized experience for every customer,” explained HEC Alumna Chiara Di Fonzo, LVMH’s Customer Analytics Manager.

MBA students Manuela Mesa and Natalia Navarro organized the conference

MBA students Manuela Mesa and Natalia Navarro organized the conference

Another presentation delved into big data’s use in the manufacturing industry. Michaël Hoarau, GE Digital’s Data Science Program Director, shared several use cases in which his teams have been able to optimize processes and predict machinery failure. Charles Beneteau from Dataiku, a French company that develops software for data driven collaboration for banking, pharma and retail industries, shared everyday uses of data science.

Gabriele Compostella and Nadine Strobel from the Volkswagen Data:Lab then talked about their work. Volkwagen’s team of data scientists can accurately predict which cars with which options will be big sellers in a particular market. “In between 2015-2020, 90 million connected cars will be sold in Europe alone,” said Compostella, the company’s CTO, explaining the potential inflow of information that could be analyzed in the future.

The event also acknowledged big-learning failures. Netflix once awarded $1 million to the winner of a contest to increase the accuracy of the company’s recommendation engine by 10 percent, but the project was never implemented due to too much engineering effort.

“The fact that attendees stayed talking with the panelist several hours after it ended makes me realize we delivered true value,” says Manuela Mesa, MBA ’20, a conference co-organizer. “Both students and panelists were trying to grasp as much information as they could.”