Business Newsroom

La Trobe Business School

Month: May 2018

Why data is the new oil

With billions of connected devices sharing info from all around the world, data has well and truly become a red-hot resource. But how can we sift through the incomprehensible amount now available and actually put it to good use? That’s where a business analyst comes in.

Former software developer Mahesh Krishnan had a natural flair for finding patterns in data, which he was keen to explore further. Now in the final semester of a Master of Business Analytics degree at La Trobe Business School, Mahesh chatted to us about why he decided to shift career paths and what he loves about plucking out data insights to help businesses grow.

 

 

LBS’ Master of Business Analytics

My work at my previous employer in India involved a lot of data. This led me to analysing customer information, which helped me realise that I had a natural sense for understanding hidden patterns in data and deriving insights that would help businesses drive growth. I found this interesting and decided to do a course that would help me fortify my analytical skills by learning different analysis methods.

The Master of Business Analytics at LBS attracted me because of its highly experienced teaching faculty and the curriculum of study. It offers the right mix of technical and business skills, which are highly valued in the global market.

 

The course coordinator, Associate Professor Dr Kok-Leong Ong, has been a mentor and role model. He has extensive teaching and professional experience in the sector and is welcoming and down-to-earth.

 

What I like about Business Analytics is the fact that it makes use of the plethora of data at the disposal of an organisation and produces valuable insights. These insights help the business to reap rewards in terms of spiking profits and huge market shares.

 

Visualising data

As the saying goes, ‘data is the new oil’. Business analytics blends the technical aspect of statistical evidence with the business aspect of converting these insights into easily interpretable business terms. An analyst who is technically sound, but unable to convey the message to the business in a way they understand, isn’t useful to an organisation.

 

 

The course has taught me ways to gather data, wrangle it and visualise the insights.

Extracted data isn’t always ready for analysis, so data wrangling becomes one of the most important steps to learn. Data visualisation is also an important skill. Generating insights alone does not benefit an organisation if they can’t be visualised. Numbers in a table look better in visuals because they can then be more easily understood. With so many graphs to choose from, selecting the right graph for a particular dataset is really important. It goes a long way in delivering the right message to the business.

 

With a plethora of data being stocked up by organisations and a rising demand for analytics to drive business growth, there is no better time to pursue a Master of Business Analytics at La Trobe Business School.

 

Internships

The course assignments I’ve done have helped me work effectively during my internships.

I’ve undertaken a one-month internship with the Victorian State Government, a three-month internship with ME Bank in Melbourne, and as part of my final semester I am interning with Moreland City Council as a data analyst. My work at Moreland City Council requires me to extract data from different sources, then align the data to make it ready for analysis. This data can be used to generate insights about businesses in Moreland and suburban growth in its suburbs can be generated to benefit the council’s Economic Development team.

I have secured a full-time role as an associate consultant at Servian, a leading data analytics consultancy based in Melbourne. The skills I have learned through my course will be of great use.

 

 

This blog post was originally published on NEST. Read the original article.

LBS Innovation Series: Universities’ engagement with industry

Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. The Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015.

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School, shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.

 

Bringing industry into the classroom

One way La Trobe Business School is working towards better engagement with industry is through hiring Professors of Practice. A concept born out of the school’s strategic decision to adopt an approach focused on bringing industry into the classroom. Professors of Practice, such as myself, are experienced practitioners in a relevant field of professional practice. We teach subjects and courses that provide a high quality and industry relevant learning experience.

Before I joined LBS, I was the Senior Executive Officer responsible for enterprises management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. My experience leads me to be able to develop innovative teaching programs in the economics discipline and risk management practice that enhance the student learning experience, and enhance their career-readiness.

 

Bringing research into the market

Besides bringing industry experience into the classroom, we also build relationships by organising events where academia and industry can come together. The National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L is a great example of such an event. More than 90 business, local government, academic and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally discussing the question:

 

How can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem?

 

The discussions on strengthening collaboration are centred on maintaining industry-university connections and relationships through regular engagement and dialogue and the use of accelerators and incubators. Thus, universities need to create open collaborative spaces and networks with industry where there is potential to commercialise ideas.

This implies that each side needs to engage far beyond the traditional exchange of research for funding model. The implication is that we need strategic partnerships that better blend the research-driven culture of the university with the innovation/data-driven environment of business.

What more can universities do?

Forum delegate discussions and feedback show that some of the key points universities could consider in enhancing their engagement with industry are:

  • Streamline the decision making processes in terms of entering into collaborative arrangements with industry i.e. make it easier and break down barriers.
  • Changing the incentive system for academics to be equally rewarded for their industry engagement/collaboration as they are for their research.
  • Focus on talking the same language as industry (i.e. business practice) rather than academic theory (shaped by the need to publish).
  • Have a clear path of entry and handling strategy for business’ seeking collaboration opportunities.
  • Hold regular events that give business an opportunity to access and learn about its research and R&D activities.
  • Facilitate more frequent industry engagement/dialogue including events such as the National Innovation Forum which begin to bridge the gaps.
  • Introduce staff industry placements/secondments.
  • Work with industry on developing work-in-learning opportunities to develop more business ready graduates.
  • Establish quicker processes for changing curriculum and subject offering in response to industry need and the changing nature of work.
  • Offer all students opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills i.e. to nurture start-ups and innovation.

La Trobe University, and La Trobe Business School, are already very active in many of these areas (e.g. La Trobe Accelerator Program; Professors of Practice, Work Integrated Learning and Placements; Industry and Community Engagement; Research and Innovation Precinct etc.) but we can always strive to do better.

 

Read the full NIF 17 Summary Report

  

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

Can economics remove doping from sport?

Trying to gain an unfair advantage through performance-enhancing drugs has plagued sport for years. From swimming to soccer, Aussie Rules to athletics, sports across the spectrum have suffered blows to their credibility as a result of banned substances.

A 2010 study revealed that many cyclists believe it’s impossible to compete without doping. Most famously, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, made a spectacular fall from grace in 2013 following years of doping allegations by former teammates. The incident shone a harsh light on the prevalence of drugs at the highest levels of sporting competition.

 

What if there was a new way to help ensure that athletes play fair? A system to help increase compliance with existing anti-doping regulations?

 

 

How economics can change athletes’ behaviour

A system based around incentives rather than punishment is being trialled by La Trobe Business School, Senior Lecturer in Microeconomics, Dr Liam Lenten. The trial uses grant money supplied by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is being run in conjunction with the University of Adelaide’s Experimental Economics Lab.

“Current anti-doping enforcement relies on suspensions and fines. Our research will consider innovative anti-doping policy ideas that can be used in tandem with existing punishments,” Dr Lenten says. As an alternative, Dr Lenten and his colleagues propose a system called ‘conditional superannuation’. Simply put, athletes sign a contract whereby they forego a percentage of their earnings and prize money, say 10 per cent, and recoup those earnings at a later date – providing they continue to test negative for banned substances.

 

 

How bad is the doping problem, really?

There’s a strong need for new approaches to doping in elite sport. In an academic paper on the subject, Dr Lenten argues that high-profile doping scandals raise questions about whether suspensions, sanctions and public shaming sufficiently discourage athletes from using banned substances.

Informally, athletes, officials and researchers believe that doping might be far more widespread than is reported or tested for. Dr Lenten and his co-authors report that the actual rate of doping has been approximated at 14 to 39 per cent of athletes, compared to the 0.5 to 2.0 per cent level of positive doping control tests. In surveys asking athletes and coaches to estimate doping, the numbers escalate further.

 

What solutions to doping exist?

Given the extent of the problem and the impossibility of ensuring drug-free sport under the current system, consider these alternative approaches.

The first is full legalisation of drugs in sport. This course of action would undoubtedly be met with public and professional outcry and, given the risks that some performance-enhancing drugs pose to health, could potentially result in deaths.

The second option is a draconian, even dystopian, system of monitoring and control that might go as far as ‘criminal investigations, forensic DNA analyses, “coercive” interviewing, extensive psychometric and personality surveys, lie detection testing, and athlete micro-chipping for whereabouts checks, as well as, ultimately, in vivo chemical testing.’ This option, aside from being a direct slight to an athlete’s personal integrity, would prove prohibitively expensive, and is at least for the time being unviable.

 

 

Are economic incentives the middle ground?

A middle way could be conditional superannuation. But while it may prove an effective adjunct to existing policy, on its own conditional superannuation isn’t perfect. This is because individual competitors respond to punishment or incentive-based motivations in different ways.

For example, younger athletes may not perceive the benefit of money for a future that still seems so far away. And older athletes may not be deterred by the threat of a ban or a late financial penalty if they’re already in the twilight of their career. However, Dr Lenten says that these problems could be mitigated by taking a context-specific approach to each athlete’s contract. This means younger athletes might face bans, whereas older athletes might face financial penalties that could even take effect retroactively.

Dr Lenten and his colleagues have begun testing the model using a pilot experiment. So far they’ve found ‘early and suggestive evidence in favour of trialling a conditional superannuation scheme at some level of professional or elite sport’. While not yet conclusive, the study represents a positive development to an issue that can’t and won’t be solved overnight.

In the face of elite sport’s ambitious, competitive and high-pressure environment, athletes are likely to test the rules in search of an advantage. However, considered and evidence-based solutions from outside the boxes of ‘radical tolerance’ or ‘stifling scrutiny’ might be just the motivation they need to stay on a level playing field.

 

This blog post was originally published on NEST. Read the original article.

LBS Innovation Series: Introduction

Business Newsroom brings you the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School.

 

National Innovation Forum

The goal of the LBS is to teach and produce research that has a positive impact on the ideas and views of our leaders of tomorrow in business, government, and not-for-profit organisations. With that in mind, LBS organised the first National Innovation Forum (NIF) last year in collaboration with NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L. More than 90 businesses, local government, academics and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally came together to explore how we can create sustainable bonds between universities with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem.

 

 

Key themes discussed during the NIF Forum were:

  • The role of incubators and accelerators in engaging start-ups and SMEs and connecting university-industry innovation.
  • Global forces shaping opportunities for business (including start-ups and SMEs) over the coming decade.
  • Business perspectives on the opportunities and barriers to university-industry collaboration.
  • Changing nature of business models and start-up tools.
  • Developing business environments where innovation can thrive.

Mark has compiled the discussions on these key themes and turned it into the LBS Innovation Series, giving you the latest news, information and developments in the innovation space.

 

Watch Mark’s introduction to the LBS Innovation Series:

 

What is innovation?

Kenneth Morse explains innovation as ideas or invention plus commercialisation. So innovation adds value for consumers, but it can’t do this if it remains an idea or an unknown invention. It’s the idea plus the commercialisation of that idea or invention that leads to innovation.

 

What is the importance of innovation to social and economic change?

According to Klaus Schwab we have entered a fourth industrial revolution and like the three previous industrial revolutions, we are in the midst of a profound change to our economic and social structures.

 

The first industrial revolution from the 1760s was built on the construction of railroads and mechanical inventions such as the steam engine; the second in the 1860s on mass production and the harnessing of energy in the form of electricity; while the third from the 1960s was built on digital or computer revolution. These revolutions caused radical disruption and change. This is because the core of all these shifts are innovation and new technology that reformulate the traditional models of economic growth and societal structures.

 

The Fourth industrial revolution

The fourth industrial revolution (or 4.0) began in the 1990s and is characterised by new digital technologies and devices, platform economics, metadata manipulation, WIFI and the Internet of things, by cheaper, smaller and more powerful sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

 

“How will revolution 4.0 play itself out? What are the key drivers? What opportunities does it offer? How can we manage the risk to society of the disruption it brings?”

 

The aim of the series is to explore these questions and gain useful insight that inform the ideas and views of our leaders of tomorrow. Watch this space for some great presentations by the following key players:

  • Mark shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.
  • Antonio Palanca, CEO and Co-founder the HiveXchange, talks about his start-up science story.
  • Kate Burleigh, former Managing Director of Intel Australia/NZ and now country manager of Amazon Alexa Skills across Australia and New Zealand, looks at why students and businesses with a global mindset are more likely to succeed within the digital era.
  • Craig Scroggie, CEO NEXTDC – Australia’s leading Data-Centre-as-a-Service provider, welcomes us to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
  • Dr Stephan Buse, Deputy Director of the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) at Hamburg University of Technology, views Academia-Industry collaboration and engagement, and how universities can strengthen firms’ innovative ability.
  • David Williamson, CEO Melbourne Innovation Centre gives us a case study in innovation.
  • Christine Christian, Chairman of Kirwood Capital, a Director of FlexiGroup Limited, ME Bank Limited, Lonsec Fiscal Group, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority and New-York based Powerlinx Inc, discusses the critical factors that determine why start-ups succeed (and fail).
  • Nick Kaye, founding Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, explains how the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) came about.
  • Dr. Ben Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at IP Australia, elaborates on the University-industry collaboration and IP.
  • Christine Axton, Director in Monitor Deloitte’s Strategy practice, gives us answers to questions such as “how do companies hold on to their ability to innovate? And how do they achieve, and keep, an innovation premium in the market?”

 

 

Dr Mark Cloney is Professor of Practice in economics at the LBS. Prior to joining La Trobe, Mark was the Senior Executive Officer responsible for enterprises management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. Mark teaches in the economics discipline and risk management practice.

 

 

 

 

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