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IBM gave students a glance of how to manage and analyse data in a business world

Students from Aalto and University of Turku competed against each other in a business analytics challenge.
The two top teams, Team Aalto on the left and a team representing Turku School of Economics on the right. Jukka Ruponen from IBM on the extreme left and post doc researcher Jani Merikivi in the middle. This time TSE won the extremely tough and well-matched competition. Congrats to Turku!

At the end of the spring semester ten student teams from Aalto University School of Business (Aalto) and Turku School of Economics (TSE) gathered at IBM Finland Headquarters to compete against each other in a business analytics challenge. The competition was part of the Business Intelligence (BI) courses organized at Aalto and TSE during spring 2018.

Exploring modern tools and deepening expertise in the field of BI and analytics as a goal

The universities designed their BI courses in cooperation. The common module included a team challenge, in which one of the goals was to explore sales, HR and open data with multiple software, including IBM's Watson Analytics. Six best-performing teams from both universities were selected to the challenge finals. The selections were based on a three-minute long video presentation each team made during the course.

According to post-doctoral researcher Jani Merikivi, who is responsible for organizing the BI course at Aalto, this was the first time he asked his students to prepare a video presentation as a deliverable.

“We had over 20 teams at Aalto alone. Going through all the presentations live would have taken a lot of time from all of us. Knowing that the presentations may at some point start to repeat themselves, and that many of the students were already working during the day, we did not want to waste their time. Instead, we thought preparing a video would not only give the students more control over their time but also contribute to their learning process. Since we have the facilities and software, we felt a video could actually be a very neat thing to do”, Jani Merikivi explains.

The challenge itself was also a new initiative and the purpose was for students to learn to work with data to solve various business problems. The teams qualified for the final event presented their solutions to the jury. In addition to the teachers, Jani Merikivi and Professor Timo Leino from TSE, the jury consisted of five business representatives from Solita, Enfo and IBM.

IBM wants to invest on building tomorrow’s skills

According to Jukka Ruponen, the Analytics Architect, from IBM, it is very important for students to rehearse dealing with real business challenges and prepare themselves to be able to provide answers to those tough questions, supported by facts. Investing on developing the technology is crucial as well.

“These skills are especially important now, in rise of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing. That is also why IBM has participated in this course providing students with technology, best practises and the opportunity to rehearse in a simulated but a real-like business environment. The technologies used from IBM included IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Watson Analytics and IBM Cloud capabilities”, Jukka Ruponen sums up.

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