Key takeaways from the 5th Annual Data Science Symposium

by Adobe Life Team

Posted on 09-19-2018

Last week, Adobe hosted its 5th annual Data Science Symposium, an event where academia and Adobe join forces to promote the understanding and use of data science in the area of marketing, and share new ideas where real world impact can be made.

Hosted by Anil Kamath, Adobe’s Fellow & VP of Technology, the Symposium saw over 100 attendees this year, with half of the audience made up of esteemed professors from across North America, representing more than 30 different universities. After a full day of intense learning, here are some of the key takeaways from the event.

Innovation comes with collaboration

When asked why the Data Science Symposium is important, Anil was quick to mention that the collaboration between Adobe and academia was invaluable. As Adobe continues to develop new technologies and create the future of digital experiences, the collaboration between people with varied backgrounds and perspectives is key to innovation. In order to stay on the leading edge of technology, we need to open up our willingness to share key discoveries and resources, which is exactly what the Data Science Research Award aims to accomplish.

This year, Adobe has funded more than $800,000 to university faculties as part of our Data Science Research Awards. This is up from $500,000 last year. Through this funding, universities are able to develop both theoretical and empirical solutions to problems in marketing, and we are able to help them incorporate their research into actual products and services.

It’s not a “one and done” partnership

When we say our partnership is ongoing, we mean it. Although this was the first Data Science Symposium for some in the audience, for many others, they’ve been participating for years. And that’s because we don’t leave professors high and dry once they’ve attended a Symposium, or once they’re awarded a research grant. Adobe’s team of data scientists and researchers regularly communicate with professors on how to further expand the proposals that are approved for funding. And even better, we offer internships to the students of our visiting professors.

In attendance at the Symposium this year was Philip Thomas, Assistant Professor and co-director of the Autonomous Learning Lab College of Information and Computer Sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst. When asked if this was Philip’s first Data Science Symposium, he said it was, but that it definitely wasn’t his first time collaborating with Adobe. Philip was once an intern on the Adobe Research team. “It feels like coming full circle. I used to collaborate with the Research team as an intern and now I’m doing it as a professor,” he said.

It’s exactly what professors are looking for

When Brad Rencher, EVP and GM of Digital Experience, entered the room full of professors and Adobe data scientists and researchers, he joked that he was surprised he was even allowed to speak, as he felt like the only person in the room without a PhD. And who could blame him—the caliber of talent and great minds in the room was immeasurable! And for the professors who shared their experience with the Adobe Life team, this was one of the best benefits of attending the Symposium—the chance to meet other professors who they typically wouldn’t have a chance to partner with.

For Georgia Perakis, William F. Pounds Professor of Operations Research at MIT, she was surprised by how many different professors there were in the audience, and the high quality questions asked after presenting her research proposal to them. “Not only do I get to meet and learn from lots of other professors, but I love having the chance to give my students an internship at Adobe, too,” she said.

With the close of this year’s Data Science Symposium, Adobe is looking forward to continuing our partnership all throughout the year with university faculties across North America. And even more, we are excited to further evolve the Symposium. When the first Data Science Symposium launched in 2014, it was a small gathering of professors and Adobe data scientists, looking to see how they could work together. Today, it has become so much more.

Learn more about the Data Science Research Awards here, and if you want to submit a proposal for the chance to be awarded up to $50,000 USD, we are accepting submissions until February 15, 2019.

Topics: Adobe Life, Adobe Culture, University, Brand