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BAI Roundtable Facilitates Networking, Exposes Marketing Analytics Students to Emerging Trends 

By Samantha Beavers

With increasing competition in the marketplace, Poole College of Management recognizes that it’s not enough for businesses to simply collect and use data – rather, businesses must learn to leverage data strategically to create value for customers and edge out their competitors. To that end, Poole College has embraced multiple opportunities to equip today’s professionals with analytics skills – including launching the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program.

A newer program that integrates cutting-edge analytics techniques and marketing skills, the MMA program was created to meet the climbing demand for analytics talent. Given the nature of a quickly evolving marketplace and rapid technological change, however, the college recognizes the importance of ensuring the flow of knowledge remains current – which is why the Business Analytics Initiative (BAI), a hub for thought leadership and business analytics activities within the college, plays such a significant role. 

On April 26, the BAI hosted its second annual roundtable event to share emerging trends and generate ideas about how to use analytics to solve complex problems and drive decisions. More than 100 industry professionals, academics and students – including MMA students – were in attendance.

Embracing key opportunities

For Ju Yon Yu, an MMA graduate student who attended the roundtable, the event was an opportunity to supplement the content she’s learning in the classroom with exposure to the latest industry trends.

“I wanted to learn from industry leaders about how analytics is driving decision-making within major companies,” she says. “It allowed me to gain a real-world perspective on the concepts I’ve learned in class and how these concepts are being applied to current situations.”

Kayla Layden, another MMA graduate student who attended the roundtable, shared similar sentiments.

“Attending the BAI Roundtable was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity to connect my classroom education to the real-world by listening to business professionals speak about how analytics impacts their industries and how companies are utilizing growing technology,” she says.

In a keynote discussion with Kirk Goldman, vice president of business strategy at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and BAI Advisory Board member, the students had the opportunity to do just that – learning about the recent impact of point-of-sale analytics on the retail industry. 

“Think about what Amazon knows about you. They know what kind of phone you have, what size clothing you wear and even whether you exercise or not… but most retail stores don’t know any of that,” Goldman says. 

Using Toshiba’s point-of-sale solution, ELERA, Goldman says retailers can leverage analytics to improve marketing efforts and create more value for customers – just as e-commerce leaders like Amazon have been doing for years. 

Ju Yon Yu (center) and Kayla Layden (far right) alongside fellow MMA students at the second annual BAI Roundtable event on April 26, 2023

Making strategic decisions

In an academic panel discussion about confronting societal issues, students had the opportunity to learn about the power of analytics and its ability to unveil truth and drive strategic decisions.

“Analytics provides an unbiased, birds-eye view of what’s actually happening when we, as individuals, usually only have a snapshot,” said Gijs Overgoor, one of the panelists. An assistant professor of marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business, Overgoor presented data on minority actor representation in television advertisements.

“With data, we have a good overview of how companies are actually increasing diversity in advertising – whereas you may only have watched TV for one hour on a Friday night,” he continued.

His research found that across market segments, leading brands exhibit a higher level of racial diversity in advertising – while followers tend to lag behind and try to pick up slack after major societal events like the murder of George Floyd. “Consumers demand diversity, but if you increase diversity in your advertising after an important social event – and you weren’t doing that before – you may face consequences,” Overgoor said.

For Layden, the panel was one of the highlights.

“It was very interesting and thought-provoking to consider how societal issues can impact a company’s marketing strategy, as well as how implementing a strategy in response to societal issues can positively or negatively impact a company’s reputation – and eventually profit – in the long-term,” she says.

Tapping into data

During a second keynote address, students learned about customer lifetime value, corporate valuation and the importance of data from Daniel McCarthy, founder of Theta and assistant professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.

“You have to be credible with your data. You know how people say, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I like to think, when presenting data, ‘What would the CFO think?’ If it’s not going to pass the smell test with the CFO, why do it? Speak credibly to align with how the CFO thinks about profitability. That’s extremely important,” he said.

Scott Anderson, CEO and founder of Alliance Sales and Marketing, also spoke to the importance of data credibility. During a second panel discussion on how data is changing business, Anderson explained that using data credibly allows businesses to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

“Today, because of the data available in the marketplace, anyone can compete with the biggest companies in the world. Fifty years ago, you weren’t going to compete with them. That just wasn’t going to happen,” he said.

A top 10 vendor at most retailers across the United States, Alliance represents food and beverage brands including KIND Snacks and Chobani yogurt – and competes against large corporations including Kraft, General Mills and Nestle. “We’re up against the biggest people in the industry – and you know why? [We] know our data and know how to use it,” Anderson said.

Brooks Deaton, managing director of NASCAR, also noted the importance of leveraging data to stay relevant. After asking the audience to raise their hands if they had ever heard of NASCAR, he said, “See? We don’t have an awareness problem. We have a relevance problem.”

“The sports industry’s marketing strategy is really impacted by advanced technologies – such as the shift from cable TV to streaming,” Layden says. “It was interesting to learn about how NASCAR is evolving as a company and what they’re doing to keep up with the ever-changing atmosphere of sports TV.”

Forming new connections

For MMA students in attendance, the BAI Roundtable not only allowed them to gain exposure to emerging trends in marketing analytics – it also gave them the opportunity to form valuable connections with others.

To facilitate these connections, the BAI Initiative hosted a networking lunch between sessions for both students and professionals in attendance.

“One of the main reasons I chose to attend the event was to meet other professionals and graduate students from the MMA and MBA programs,” Yu said. ‘It provides networking opportunities with individuals from diverse backgrounds and allows us to share our personal and professional experiences with one another.”

Layden agrees.

“For MMA students, the roundtable allows us to interact with professionals in roles that we hope to pursue in the future. So it’s a great networking opportunity,” she says.

According to Bill Rand, Distinguished McLauchlan Professor of Marketing and Analytics and executive director for the BAI, forming these connections is one of the main reasons the BAI Initiative exists. 

“Here at Poole College, we were excited to launch the MMA program that serves working professionals and helps them secure new opportunities in their fields,” he says. “Events like these aid the program by serving as a bridge on campus for education, research and industry engagement.” 

To learn more about the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.

To learn more about the BAI Initiative at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.