Analytics Pros Rally Around Annual Challenge

In this corner… Cleveland Clinic.  In the other corner… analytics teams from across the US.  The challenge?  Solve a patient re-activation data management problem.  For Cleveland Clinic, it’s a chance to revitalize an important direct mail campaign in order to encourage patients with chronic conditions to continue to seek treatment and stay updated on new regimens. For the analytics teams competing, it is an opportunity to flex their analytic muscles, and a chance for the top three finalists to present at the Annual DMA Conference in Chicago this October to discover who is the champion!

This year’s Challenge is co-sponsored and managed by Jigyasa Analytics, a consultancy helping companies improve their marketing analytics prowess. “The DMA Challenge is unique in that it is focused solely on marketing analytics problems from the real world and brings together industry and academic practitioners in a contest of creative business approaches,” says Krishna Mehta, founder and principal of Jigyasa.  “Competitive spirit is natural for analytics professionals, and this is a great way to demonstrate your abilities with a new kind of business challenge.”

The DMA analytics community rises up each year in a symbol of commitment to giving back and professional development.  “This is where the rubber meets the road; the problems are real, not contrived,” says long time participant Marty Rose, Senior Statistician at Acxiom Corporation.  “What always amazes me is how close the final results  are for the top competitors who have been working entirely independently and often using quite different approaches.  It’s sort of a marketing science state-of-the-union demonstration.”

Contestants come from both large and small companies, academia and independent groups.  “Winning this competition also implicitly conveys certain bragging rights,” Marty says.  “If you’re a smaller boutique company and can knock off some major competitors or place highly, it’s essentially free advertising. Similarly, wouldn’t it be great to say a group of your grad students either won the competition or placed highly?

“For everyone, it’s a good barometer of how your ideas and expertise are benchmarked to the industry,” he says.    “Depending on what you do for your day job, the Challenge offers a chance to do something different, either topical or methodological; to work with team members you normally don’t interact with; and to utilize new software tools, or make old tools do new tricks.”

Krishna notes the “good karma” that comes from this year’s Challenge – supporting a good cause.  “The challenge participants should feel good about assisting such a top tier institution as the Cleveland Clinic,” he says.

More importantly, these analysts are not just competing to win and to support a project with real world consequence.  They are also, as Marty says, “Demonstrat[ing] the high quality of quantitative solutions currently created by data scientists working in marketing.”  Part of the mission for the DMA Analytics Council is to promote and celebrate the value of a professional analytics team for the success of any marketing organization. The annual Challenge is a way to do just that by giving analytics teams the opportunity to shine, and then by celebrating the outstanding top three finalists (and, of course, the winner!) at DMA’s annual conference.

It’s not too late to participate.   To learn more and sign up, visit http://dmachallenge13.analyticscompetition.com/ to register.  The exact metric to be optimized will be announced when the data is released on August 05, 2013.  Additional details about the innovation award will also be released at that time. Three finalists—the top two based on model performance, and the winner of the award for most innovative approach—will be invited to present their work at the Annual DMA Conference, which will be held in Chicago this year, on October 14, 2013.

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