Kellogg Students Turn Lenovo Data into $15k Win at Adobe Digital Analytics Competition

Adobe recently completed its 13th Adobe Digital Analytics Competition (ADAC) and handed out almost $30,000 in prizes to up-and-coming analytics talent. This popular annual event is a unique analytics-focused business case competition where university students from around the country get an opportunity to use Adobe’s industry-leading analytics products and access real data from leading organizations. Through its ADAC program Adobe seeks to expose more students to the high-demand fields of digital marketing and digital analytics. This year Adobe had the opportunity to partner with Lenovo, the world’s largest PC manufacturer.

Having focused exclusively on U.S.-based sites in past competitions, Lenovo decided to throw a curveball at the students when it asked them to analyze the performance of its Mexican ecommerce site. Equipped with a two-hour Adobe Analytics training and a copy of my free digital analytics primer, students had just over two weeks to analyze the data and then build a compelling presentation with strategic recommendations on how the technology leader could improve its online business in Mexico. If learning a new analytics tool on top of their regular studies wasn’t enough of a challenge, the focus on a foreign language and market definitely added an extra level of difficulty to this year’s competition.

Fortunately, the students embraced the challenge, and teams from twelve different universities participated in the competition. From the nearly 70 presentations that were submitted, 12 semi-finalists were chosen to present their findings and recommendations virtually to a judging panel of seasoned Adobe consultants. The judges narrowed down the group to six finalists who would present in-person at Adobe’s Lehi campus on Friday, Nov. 21. The finalists included two teams from BYU and a team from Kellogg, Chicago-Booth, UofU, and UVU.

Ashish Braganza, Director of Global Business Intelligence, and Siping Roussin, Sr. Manager of Optimization & Personalization, represented Lenovo on the judging panel at the finale. They were joined by me, Michael Halbrook from Adobe Consulting, and a former ADAC winner (2009) and Adobe Product Marketing Manager, Nate Smith. (Yes, Adobe has hired 25+ participants/winners since the inception of the ADAC in 2005).

In impressive style, the Kellogg Roadhogs team comprised of Alex Bourdeau, Yajur Kapoor, and John Elder defended Kellogg’s title as the reigning champion of the ADAC and won the grand prize of $15,000. Interestingly, even before entering Kellogg, Alex knew he wanted to participate in the competition and handpicked his teammates for the ADAC once he was in his program. Alex said, “It turned out to be everything I expected and more.” His teammate, Yajur, shared the following thoughts about the ADAC:

“To walk away as winners of ADAC 2014 was a humbling experience for our team from Kellogg. We had the opportunity not only to learn about cutting-edge web analytics tools offered by Adobe, but also to apply these tools to solve real-world problems for Lenovo. Through the experience, we learnt about the immense power of data and how it can help achieve strategic business objectives.”

A close second-place finish ($7,500) went to the only undergrad team, Los Luchadores, from Utah Valley University, which was comprised of Tyler Larrabee, Blake McClary, and Scott Twitchell. This was the first time a UVU team made it to the final round. The third-place finish by the Chicago-Booth ThinkBig team also represented the first time a team from that university made the final round. Jataprolu Pushya, Banerjee Rohith, and Garg Saurabh from Chicago-Booth collected $3,750 for their efforts. The fourth-place prize ($1,500) went to the BYU team, Hacedores, which was made up of Danner Banks, Daniel Conger, and Jason Eggett.

Lenovo’s Siping Roussin shared her impressions of the competition:

“Lenovo is a global company that operates in 160+ countries. We wanted to give the teams a challenge to look beyond US and see what insights they can gleam from the SiteCatalyst data with one of our emerging markets, LAS. We were incredibly impressed with the quality of analysis that came out. Majority of the teams looked into the local country dynamics and were able to produce insights relevant to LAS. Some of the recommendations from the presentations could be applied to multiple countries in LAS. We’ve started working on some of the new ideas to see if they could be developed further.

Lenovo was thrilled to partner with Adobe and be part of the ADAC process. We were happy to see the type of talents that’ll be coming up in the analytics industry and happy to see Adobe cultivating this talent on a national scale.”

I’d like to thank all of the students and universities who participated in the competition—in particular the runner-up teams from the finale: Data Addicts (BYU) and Utah-BIG (UofU). Even though not all of the teams can win prizes, I believe the ADAC offers real-world experience that is unparalleled and invaluable to the next generation of data-driven managers and marketers. Hacedores’ Daniel Conger shared a similar sentiment:

“The ADAC competition was so valuable to me because it offered me exposure to #1. web analytics and data mining, #2. the Adobe Analytics product base, and #3. a large data set from a Fortune 500 company (that’s essentially impossible to find) with which to practice web analytics and data mining. The combination of those three things is impossible to find in any of the MBA classes I’m aware of.”

This competition couldn’t happen without the combined efforts of many people at Adobe. I’d like to acknowledge the contributions of Amy Mead, Carrie Courtois, Gina Ghio, Drake Jakovac, Mark Boothe, Justin Grover, Caleb Silvey, Nate Smith, Michael Halbrook, Chris Wareham, Tucker Christiansen, John Livingston, Adam Egbert, and Serge St. Felix. I’d also like to recognize the executive support for this event from John Mellor, Lisa Reckis, Steve Hammond, Bill Ingram, and Brad Rencher. If your university is interested in participating in this business case competition in Fall 2015, please reach out to me on Twitter @analyticshero.