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K-State Today Student Edition

February 29, 2012



A competitive edge: IBM project helps students acquire skills in growing field of business analytics

By Communications and Marketing

A team of Kansas State University students is taking part in an IBM-sponsored project that's giving members firsthand experience with using data mining of customer information to help improve company performance.

The project is part of IBM's Statistics and Mining in Academic Research Training -- or SMART -- program.

"Businesses today have no problems collecting all sorts of data about their customers," said Christopher Havenstein, sophomore in management information systems, Manhattan, and one of the students on the team. "The problem is many businesses have so much data that they have difficulties converting it into actionable knowledge. Data mining, or analytics, is an answer to that problem. This really is the future of business intelligence."

The K-State team is using business analytics to research a large professional association's customer turnover and retention management, including why customers move on, their characteristics and ways to increase customer retention.

"Business analytics is a multidisciplinary inquiry into business and social problems, analyzing a large volume of data using diverse techniques in data mining, business intelligence, database technology, data visualization, statistics and business performance management," said Bongsug "Kevin" Chae, associate professor of management and team adviser. "It is used in diverse fields, including marketing, human resources, finance and accounting."

The team is using IBM technology, including IBM SPSS Modeler, and advanced data mining techniques in its research. Team members will present their findings to IBM and its client organization in late April.

"This research project is part of an ongoing effort in the College of Business Administration to train students to meet growing industry demands for skills in business analytics. The effort is consistent with the K-State 2025 theme," said Chwen Sheu, Paul Edgerley chair in business administration and head of the department of management.

Along with Havenstein, team members include:

From Manhattan: Ahmad Samsor, master's student in business administration; Holger Gobel, master's student in business administration; and Saad Khan, master's student in business administration.

From out of country: Siyu Fu, master's student in business administration, Beijing, China.