D&B Logo 600x200Students develop new tools addressing market needs in the sales and supply chain management fields

Dun & Bradstreet and The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) completed the first year of their five-year partnership aimed at providing hands-on learning opportunities to students in the field of data science. The partnership provides students in both the Cockrell School of Engineering and the McCombs School of Business with the unique opportunity to develop skill sets that meet the needs of today’s data-driven environment. Students are presented with challenges based on current market opportunities during the fall semester and asked to present their solutions at the conclusion of the academic year.

Projects for the 2014-15 academic year were designed based on internal feedback from product and analytics teams at Dun & Bradstreet. One project was selected for each school and students were asked to develop new tools that address demands in the sales and supplier management sectors. The process gave students and future data scientists an enriched curriculum and the opportunity to experience working with the resources and executive mentorship of a world-class data and analytics company. At the end of the program, students walk away with a tangible experience that will enhance their resume and ultimately impact their career.

About the projects:  This year, students in the Cockrell School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering designed a mobile application called the “Influencer Map” which enables salespeople to create a graphic depiction of a company’s organizational chart.  Created by utilizing Dun & Bradstreet’s largest commercial database of businesses and business contacts, the purpose of the Influencer Map is to allow salespeople to create maps that help them store information on their clients to optimize the sales cycle. The Map creates visual connections that highlight relationships and influences between different data points. This allows salespeople to find information or recognize patterns that may not be easy to spot otherwise and to use this information as an opportunity to strengthen their own influence. Designed for tablet use, users can add individuals, descriptive notes, relationship networks and other critical information. Users can literally draw and edit connections between those elements and individuals and between maps.

The McCombs School of Business students focused on developing a total cost of ownership (TCO) tool for procurement and supply management professionals. The tool is aimed at helping managers make the best-informed choice of a new supplier based on Dun & Bradstreet data and empirical analyses of various potential risks and external costs (e.g., country risk) to one supply chain compared to another. Currently, such a tool does not exist and supply management professionals are left relying on anecdotal information and comparing retail pricing of potential suppliers. Students at the McCombs School of Business had the opportunity to design a proof of concept for the TCO tool, which is the first step in addressing this market need.

May 2015 marked the conclusion of the first year’s partnership and culminated with students presenting the results of their projects to executives in the Customer Experience and Solutions team, the Spark Lab, User Experience team, and Analytics, at the Dun & Bradstreet Austin office. “With the primary goal of driving product innovation from the outside-in, we’re very happy to see that these projects can materially form the basis for future products or product enhancements.” said Ken Maranian, Leader of Software Development at Dun & Bradstreet.

Following the conclusion of the project, six students from the University of Texas at Austin were brought on as summer interns, working with product development and engineering teams. Dun & Bradstreet is in the process of determining projects for the second year, which will be announced in the Fall 2015 semester.

“This project is the type of business and academic collaboration that gives our students the opportunity to see the classroom concepts in action using real data to solve real problems,” said Dr. Michael Hasler, program director of the M.S. in business analytics degree. “I am confident that the experience the students receive with these types of problem solving projects will equip them to add significant value to their future employers from the word “GO” as they begin their careers.”

About UT of AUSTIN
One of the largest and most distinguished business schools in the country, the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to educating the business leaders of tomorrow while creating knowledge for industry and society.

Source:  Dun & Bradstreet Press Release