A case study on the data analytics successes of Netflix came to life with a visit to a Business Analytics class by Andrew Massena, who serves as Senior Technical Project Manager at Netflix. Massena came by at the invitation of Tsovinar Yenokyan, a student in the Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications program (’18).
Massena presented on the topic of Marketing Analytics, and the class participated in a discussion about the Netflix Leading with Data initiative. Netflix uses algorithms to help predict user needs and behavior. Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Math Programs Dr. Nabanita Talukdar (and the class instructor) observes that: “Netflix has thrived because of its superior customer data and analytics. Data analytics gives Netflix the ability to predict what customers might want and provides an understanding of consumer trends.”
What I learned in the class, such as using the R data-analysis tool, will apply to my work on day one.
MS, Integrated Marketing Communications (’18)
Over the last six years, Massena has managed multi-team efforts such as launches in France, Germany, Australia, Japan, and worldwide. His areas of responsibility included ensuring proper catalog encoding and deployment, certifying region-specific configurations, new language support, and App submissions. Last year, Massena managed the effort of Netflix to enable downloading of content to mobile devices. His primary job is running the Netflix NRDP (Netflix Ready Device Platform) Program. He coordinates a cross-functional effort to deliver the latest version of the SDK to device partners (Sony, Samsung, LG, and others) on an annual basis.
Yenokyan says: “I started my own marketing firm in Armenia, and came to the US to expand my career and learn new skills. I want to continue my marketing career, and I need to be able to analyze data no matter where I go. For example, if you have a large customer data set, you need to know exactly who you want to reach. What I learned in the class, such as using the R data-analysis tool, will apply to my work on day one.”
About the Business Analytics Course
The Business Analytics course’s focus is the practice of business-oriented analytics using statistical methods using the R statistical software. The course introduces analytical techniques applicable for solving common business problems, techniques to analyze social media, and techniques to study data on Web and app users. Students are expected to acquire practical knowledge of computing and interpreting – correlations, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, t-test, regressions analysis, cluster analysis, statistical significance, run power analysis and compute effect size. During the course, apart from learning statistics and software R, students will be introduced to the concept of Application program interface (API) in the context of data retrieval from Twitter, Facebook, and Google Analytics. Upon the course completion students expected to be able to select the right statistical method corresponding to the business problem. Compute and interpret results of a statistical analysis and produce practical business recommendations.
For over 100 years, Golden Gate University has developed innovative programs that keep pace with the rapidly changing world of business. A new undergraduate concentration in the cutting-edge field of Data Analytics will prepare the next generation of business professionals to unlock the potential of Big Data. A shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the understanding of how to use these data has caused salaries for data analytics professionals to exceed $100,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The demand is also broad because Data Analytics skills are relevant to virtually all industries and disciplines such as Finance, Marketing, HR, IT, Operations, Supply Chain, and more.
The Data Analytics concentration in the Bachelor of Science in Business program will give students an edge by providing hands-on experience with tools that are essential to today’s workforce. These include:
Dashboards such as Tableau
Analyzing Social Media data using R Language
SAS software to analyze Big Data sets
SQL for manipulating and reporting data
Data extraction, transformation, and loading
After finishing each course, students can market themselves immediately to employers in a hot job market.
Beyond the Data Analytics concentration, GGU’s Bachelor of Science in Business program provides a broad foundation for success that includes training in management and other fundamental disciplines—plus opportunities to develop interpersonal effectiveness and leadership qualities.
Going Back to School?
The concentration in Data Analytics is ideal for those seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree as a working adult in their 20s, 30s, and beyond. Graduates of this program can enter the job market a step ahead of competitors who may have earned a degree earlier in life. In addition, Golden Gate University was named the #1 university for adult education in the US (Washington Monthly) because its programs are geared toward the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught either online or at the downtown San Francisco campus by faculty who are accomplished practitioners in their fields.
“Would you rather have a surgeon who knows everything from books or surgeon who has actually done your kind of operation?” That is how Andrey Aredakov sums up his teaching philosophy in the master’s degree in business analytics program at GGU. “Knowing a formula for standard deviation doesn’t help much in business. One has to apply it to solve concrete business problems.” For this reason, Aredakov gives his students a data set and challenges them to unlock its potential and communicate the results. In the real-world of business, these insights will give their colleagues what they need to make decisions.
Aredakov works as a Data Analyst at a major search engine company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Colleagues from various sectors of the company approach him to make sense of an enormous data flow that is expanding by the millisecond. This data flow emerges from user behavior, digital advertising customers, and information from mobile devices. Aredakov presents data results to the various “clients” in the company such as product managers, project managers, and engineers—as well as members of the finance, marketing, and sales teams.
“Storytelling and good communication are part of the job of a business analytics or data analyst professional,” says Aredakov. “This is not about the book knowledge or the statistics. It is about taking out what is unnecessary and telling a kind of story to colleagues that will help them grow the business. The trick is not to create many slides that are full of data charts, but come up with one slide that leaves out everything extraneous and makes finding the solution easier.”
Transforming data into a story liberates a fundamental business asset and gives professionals what they need to improve a company’s product, efficiency, and bottom line. “In today’s world, we have a lot of data and computers that help us compute anything in a short time,” Aredakov says, “but all these numbers require interpretation. Only an expert can provide that.”
Aredakov’s students are using R, an open-source statistical tool for business that is dramatically simpler than query languages such as SQL and scripting languages such as Python. You can get results sets, such as the “correlogram” below, in a matter of seconds just by calling the function. The example below correlates car MPG performance (top left box) with various factors such as the number of cylinders (column 2).
About Andrey Aredakov
Andrey Aredakov has worked as a quantity/quality researcher in media, web, and advertising analytics for the last twelve years. His specialties are media and Web analytics, as well as competitive research. Aredakov earned a PhD degree in philosophy at Moscow State University. After working as a data analyst at various companies in Toronto, he moved to San Francisco and joined a major search engine company.
By Terry Connelly, Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University
When I first started the entry-level Wall Street training program at Salomon Brothers, our first instruction was simple: Force yourself to read The Wall Street Journal, end to end, every weekday. If you are planning to pursue Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, that advice is still good.
Today’s vast new array of digital media offers the aspiring MBA student a range of choices to keep up with business and economic affairs. Perhaps there are too many choices—so many so that you can focus on the Web sites that fit your personal world-view. And yet..the precious time in your life that you devote getting an MBA offers a tremendous opportunity to challenge your preconceived notions, rather than reinforce them. Learning other points of view will help you as you advance in your career.
Most business magazines are like a day-old sandwich. Web sources that are committed to near real-time news are helpful.
The New York Times (front section):Don’t focus so much on the business pages—those are yesterday’s news. The front pages and even the Op-Eds will offer far more clues as to what will move events and markets and commerce today, and even more so, tomorrow.
The Economist: This British journal is the quickest way to get something all MBAs need: a world view. You will find that The Economist has its own, distinctive, world view. In reading this, you will confront ideas different than your own, early and often, in your schooling. So go ahead and argue with our British friends and figure out your own view of things, and absorb the incredible amount of carefully crafted and thoroughly researched reporting and perspective it provides every week—especially in its in-depth special sections.
Financial Times: While you are in the “British Reading Room” perusing the Economist, also look at Financial Times, which will offer you a perspective on American business, finance, and politics that, as they used to say of Schweppes soda, is “curiously refreshing.” You will want to keep up with Brexit and the doings of the European Community institutions, the Eurozone, German competitors, and French upstarts (Watch that space.).
The Financial Times does not do a bad job covering the Asian region either. You can add Singapore’s Straits Times for that, or better yet, Bloomberg’s Live TV around midnight Pacific Time—when the stock and bond and currency trading day has already started. Speaking of Bloomberg, consider its Businessweek because it is reinventing itself as a more focused journal.
Terry Connelly’s Best Websites for Aspiring MBAs
The New York Times (front section)>> Financial Times >> The Economist >> Straits Times (Singapore)>> Bloomberg’s Live TV >> Bloomberg’s Businessweek >> Recode >>
Axios >> Sidewire >>
Expert Discussion and Commentary
No, I am not going to close with a recommendation of The Washington Post, despite their good information leaks over the decades. Instead, I suggest you get fresh information. Sign up to get the daily online D.C. webcast chats on Axios or Sidewire (the latter of which I have the privilege of contributing to). They limit discussions to those who are experts in their field and summarize current issues that are not discussed in routine press headlines. Their discussions also reveal what to look for during the day and how to stay just a smidge ahead of events related to your industry, your investments, and your general peace of mind.
These sources will help you figure out how to meet the first and mandatory challenge that awaits those who seek to be leaders: defining reality. Most people come to their new jobs with illusions which may have served them well in previous positions but will lead to poor results in their current one. Occasionally, a leader has to shatter the illusions of their team with a cold dose of truth, like the “BI Running Platform” analogy found in more than one business school case study.
Defining reality provides what successful athletes and CEOs alike refer to as acute “situational awareness.” If you want to make the most of your post-MBA moments, use your MBA “free time” to learn how to always know the score and the time left on the clock.
About Terry Connelly
Terry Connelly is an economic expert and dean emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University, California’s fifth largest private university and a nonprofit institution based in San Francisco with award-winning online cyber campus. With more than 30 years experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Terry analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction on global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides.
Terry holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Terry co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Available on Amazon.com, Riptide deconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. Terry is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Terry lives in Palo Alto with his wife.
by Doug Geier, GGU’s Director of eLearning and Instructional Design
Online education is enormously popular, with the number of online students in the US growing to over 6 million in 2015. This is true at Golden Gate University, where many students get their degrees or certificates 100% or partially online. Online classes provide a way for many students to fit education into their daily lives, an opportunity that they may not have otherwise.
If you become a GGU student, you will soon realize that you are at a school that takes online education seriously – 94% of students who took 80% or more of their courses online favorably rated the overall quality of their education at GGU (2016-17 GGU Graduating Student Survey).
More than an Internet Connection
At GGU, we think online learning is more than a medium or a convenient way to learn. Quality online learning is built with many elements – not just an instructor and an Internet connection. Here are the features of GGU’s quality eLearning experience:
Faculty experience in an online environment
Opportunities for interaction among students and instructors
Stimulating and engaging eLearning
Integrated online learning platform for interaction, multimedia, and assignment submission
Dedicated eLearning department to ensure proper student and faculty proficiency
24/7 support team for technical issues students may have
Curriculum that connects learning to the real world
Creating the GGU Online Experience: The eLearning Department
I have a passion for online learning because it provides an opportunity for all students to participate in course activities, contribute to the discussion, and engage with one another. (No one has a “back-row” seat in online learning.) It’s also a great supplement to classroom learning and provides a great deal of flexibility for the adult learner.
One of the building blocks of the GGU online experience is the eLearning Department, which I lead. The eLearning instructional designers have experience and training in both technology and education—and how the two come together for effective teaching and learning. Through GGU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the instructional design team supports faculty in the effective use of technology for education.
Golden Gate University has been recognized for excellence in online education for its MBA, Counseling Psychology, and graduate-level Accounting programs. Learn more about GGU’s accolades >>
Even though we have been offering online education for over 20 years, we are always seeking to improve the student experience. We stay on top of the latest trends and effective practices by monitoring educational blogs, publications, and sites related to technology, online learning, and higher education. Educause Learning Initiative, EdSurge HigherEd, the Online Learning Consortium, and WCET are all wonderful sources of information and inspiration. We also exchange ideas with others in the online education community through attendance at conferences and meetups. Most importantly, we listen to feedback from students and faculty and strive to continually improve the quality of online education at GGU.
My Experience as an Online Student
I hear positive feedback from our online students, but I also share this perspective as a fellow online student at GGU. I’ll be completing my MBA degree this year, most of which I have taken online. If the courses had not been challenging and provided the opportunity to interact with fellow students and the instructor, I wouldn’t have remained engaged and interested. As a working professional, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if not for effective online courses.
About Doug Geier
Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and continues to be an active member of the OLC community–serving as a volunteer, presenter, and conference track chair. Doug is also a member of the Substantive Change Committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission and a part-time MBA student at GGU. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer.
The Golden State Warriors have won the 2017 NBA Championship! We’d like to take this opportunity to provide an example of the strong relationship between the Golden State Warriors and Golden Gate University – Proud University Partner of the Golden State Warriors.
In Spring Term of 2016, a team of GGU students taking a graduate-level Mobile Marketing class presented ideas to Warriors Leadership for improving the team’s mobile app (Android / iOS). The project included direct interaction with Warriors management who provided the students with an inside look at mobile marketing and the changes in the mobile technology landscape brought on by data and business analytics.
GGU instructor Goldie Aranha Viegas challenged students to develop ideas for an app based on the game-day journey of a fan – from download, to tip-off, to post-game. Like many instructors, Viegas works in the field as Senior Mobile Manager at VF Corporation: an apparel company that offers iconic brands such as Vans and Timberland. The project was a present-day scenario in which students had to provide ideas that were achievable and realistic.
“The people from the Golden State Warriors and GGU made this a journey to remember. This project got me closer to Dub Nation than I was before, and proved to be a great learning experience.”
—Farhad Kazi (MS Marketing, 2016)
Then student and now alumnus Farhad Kazi (MS Marketing, 2016) comments: “As in many GGU classes, our instructor was a working professional, which added important value by directing our project, providing mentorship, and creating an experience of real-world learning,”
The six-member team included students from China, India, Colombia, and the United States. The group had prior work experience in marketing which allowed them to create a solid marking plan in all aspects.
The group studied successful mobile campaigns launched by other companies and conducted a survey of Golden State Warriors fans. Social media features were an important consideration because Golden State Warrior fans are highly active and engaged on social platforms. The recommendation included social sharing, paid, unpaid and earned digital marketing tactics, app analytics, and fan behavior.
“Mobile Marketing had the elements of a real-world professional experience, as we had to follow a tight deadline and create a comprehensive plan,” says Kazi. “We not only had to convey information, but also give a live presentation intended to persuade a Golden State Warriors marketing executive to implement it.”
After graduation, Farhad Kazi found work as a Communication Analyst at Cisco. “The people from the Golden State Warriors and GGU made this a journey to remember. This project got me closer to Dub Nation than I was before, and proved to be a great learning experience.”
Farhad Kazi: My Experience in the Mobile Marketing Class
Real-life challenge that is relevant to future work assignments
Diverse environment that helps generate ideas
Professional instructor providing an up-to date scenario
Assignments relevant to future work assignments
Mentoring and networking opportunities
Taking in to account the most recent developments in mobile marketing
Golden Gate University Assistant Professor Nabanita Talukdar recently traveled to Seoul, South Korea to present a luxury branding research paper at The Mystique of Luxury Brands Conference. Dr. Talukdar’s paper, “Tweets, Retweets, and Luxury Connoisseurs: An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Tweet Volume and Stock Prices for Luxury Brands in the US,” is based on her Golden Gate University doctoral dissertation. Dr. Talukdar’s focus area of research is primarily in the area of luxury brands’ online space, and her work integrates social media analytics, digital marketing, and marketing science.
The Mystic of Luxury Brands conference was organized by Australia’s Luxury Branding Research Cluster at Curtin University and the Korean Scholars of Marketing Science. This two‑day conference forges links between industry and academia within the luxury brands industry and promotes academic and practitioner collaboration in the area of luxury branding. The conference attracted 120 industry and academic presenters from around the world and covered a wide range of luxury brand topics: beauty and wellness, gastronomy, lifestyle and culture, social media, strategies against counterfeiting, marketing, and consumer behavior.
Dr. Talukdar’s paper was selected through a competitive, peer-review process and showcased her application of quantitative analysis of social media and firm financial performance metrics to U.S. luxury brands.
About Nabanita Talukdar
Nabanita Talukdar holds a DBA in Marketing (’16) and an MS in Finance (’09) from Golden Gate University. She also holds an MBA in Marketing and a BS in Geology, Physics & Math from universities in India. Her research interests include luxury brands and digital marketing, social media analytics and luxury marketing, and the use of marketing science in luxury marketing. She has presented her research in both domestic and international conferences. Outside of academia, she has worked in industry — conducting quantitative and qualitative analyses for L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, First Republic Bank, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals. She enjoys swimming, traveling, and watching movies, and is involved with social causes dedicated to providing educational opportunities to underprivileged populations.
Golden Gate University is located in downtown San Francisco in the heart of the Financial District. In this video, Dr. Gordon Swartz, Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business, reflects on the city’s reputation and position in the business world.
Dr. Swartz’s holds a DBA from Harvard University and has extensive and varied experience that combines business school teaching, research, and administration — with strategy consulting and development of high-growth organizations. As vice president of MarketBridge, Inc., he led major marketing, sales strategy, and transformation efforts for Fortune Global 500 companies.
Getting an MBA degree at GGU in San Francisco, specifically in the “FiDi”, gives students access to a wealth of expert working faculty and networking opportunities in major business areas such as finance, accounting, taxation, marketing, project management, and IT management. Throughout its 115-year history, Golden Gate University has become an integral part of the San Francisco business world — with over 16,000 alumni residing in the San Francisco Bay Area alone.
Would you please talk about your cognitive science background and your transition to business? Was this a leap?
I was part of the first attempt at cognitive science in the 1980’s, as the discipline was inventing itself. We researched psychologists of all types, computer science researchers but also linguists, philosophers and even a few math/stat folks. This afforded me the opportunity to learn about anything and not be overly focused on one approach.
At the time, I was trying to use Artificial Intelligence models (Minsky’s Frames) to understand the relationship between learning, memory and attitude change. I had social, memory and experimental psychologists as well as cognitive scientists supervising my work, which proved to be challenging as no one faculty member particularly cared about defending my work as a whole. But I picked up a little bit in a lot of areas.
These skills, when put together, helped me enter work on projects that involved things like machine learning and intelligent computer-assisted instruction with Aerospace and Defense Research and Development at Honeywell. After that, I had the opportunity to work in a data science group at Merck & Co., where I could apply my understanding of behavior change and do things like price elasticity, promotion response, and marketing experimental design.
We are using machine learning techniques to predict the likelihood of trauma-care products needed in a given region based on weather, holidays and, other predictors.
I ultimately found my way into IT where the data is created (or not), and the capability to bring advanced analytics to major problem solving and the development of people-centered solutions is enabled.
Does cognitive science have a relation to what you are doing today at Johnson & Johnson?
I would like to say that I was smart enough to know that the methods and tools I learned in graduate school would be relevant to me as Johnson & Johnson’s CIO. This is not at all the case!
There are two primary aspects of my cognitive science background that are extremely useful today.
The first is the statistical methods that we use to try to comprehend human cognitive behavior, which advances our understanding of consumers’ and patients’ behavior. We have long applied tools like predictive modeling to be able to identify what the next best action is to take.
Now, with machine learning, the system continuously and manually updates the model without human intervention. This means that the productivity of our data scientists can be greatly enhanced. With the ability to create machine learning models that extend the reach and power of each data scientist, we can leverage the creative work our professionals produce and extend it more broadly throughout the enterprise.
To lead a data science group, it is helpful if you are an “outgoing introvert”…who enjoys sharing that work with people, creating teams that do this valuable work, and persuading business leaders that this is an area well worth the investment.
How did you get into the pharma industry?
My father had a long career in marketing, which resulted in my being born in Cincinnati, Ohio, while he was working at Procter & Gamble. Because of his career, I had always been intrigued by the idea of applying cognitive science techniques to marketing. So, once I decided it was time to get serious about establishing my career, I interviewed for a variety of positions, including a marketing job at Merck & Co.
Within its U.S. business, Merck & Co. had created a small group of what we now call data scientists, where we worked on things like promotion response assessment, hospital purchase probability modeling, conjoint analysis, and extrapolative methods for product forecasting. I don’t think there was any other time in the pharmaceutical industry until now, where a company like Merck & Co. would have hired someone like me. This gave me an opportunity to join a marketing development program where I rotated through roles like managing marketing research and product management. This business foundation has been enormously useful in my career leading IT organizations.
What are the specific applications of data analytics at Johnson & Johnson?
Data science is being applied to almost every business and function within Johnson & Johnson. It is being used to help us better understand and target consumer micro-segments in order to meet our people where they are – from the grocery store to the home. It is being used in the supply chain organization to understand how to create an agile response to emerging consumer demand locally, while planning on a global basis. We are using machine learning techniques to predict the likelihood of trauma-care products needed in a given region based on weather, holidays and, other predictors. Ultimately, we are using data science to identify and create people-centered solutions that help meet our consumers’ needs.
At Johnson & Johnson, I have been involved in all areas of data analytics. We have a group of about 30 data scientists in our IT organization supporting Janssen pharmaceuticals. I have played a role in establishing a group of supply chain professionals to model the supply chain flow, end to end. And most significantly, Johnson & Johnson created technology environments that allow us to break down the complexities of modeling, and support the massive amounts of data and power required for today’s techniques.
Is there a type of person that data science appeals to?
I don’t know if there is one type of data scientist. Data science work typically requires someone who is interested in math and in understanding the relationship of metrics to the real world. It requires the type of person who gets excited about finding and quantifying relationships that no one understood before. To lead a data science group, it is helpful if you are an “outgoing introvert”. An introvert can be defined as someone who gets their energy from quiet time working alone, while an “outgoing introvert” is someone who enjoys sharing that work with people, creating teams that do this valuable work, and persuading business leaders that this is an area well worth the investment.
One of the most important soft skills required for a top-performing data scientist is the ability to understand what your business partner is trying to do… If you take the time to ask your business partners, you may be surprised at how happy they are to share their work with you.
For people who consider themselves data scientists first, what hard and soft skills do they most need in the business world?
One of the most important soft skills required for a top-performing data scientist is the ability to understand what your business partner is trying to do. If you take the time to ask your business partners, you may be surprised at how happy they are to share their work with you. You can learn a lot in a short period of time about their business strategy, about the capabilities that are needed to accomplish business objectives, and the barriers that your business faces in accomplishing those goals. Once you have this knowledge, you can aim data science techniques at overcoming the most important obstacles. If you have helpful solutions to answer your business’ most critical problems, you will find a ready audience.
Lastly, what one thing would you like people to know about your field or your work at J&J?
Many individuals know about Johnson & Johnson from our Band-Aids® and baby products. But in reality, our two largest businesses are pharmaceuticals and medical devices. We are a health technology company fueled by empathy, and we ultimately attract people who are interested in our core mission which is helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives. If you’re interested in the opportunity to contribute to humanity in this way, and would rather develop people-centered solutions then say, tune search engines or adjust hedge fund algorithms, then we have a place for you!
In this brief video, Rich Clayton, who is the VP of Oracle’s Business Analytics Product Group, describes what he calls the “massive transformation” of the business analytics market. The elements of this transformation are technology advancement, an abundance of data, the declining cost of mining and analyzing these data, and the engaged consumer.
Clayton also serves on the Advisory Board of Golden Gate University’s new Master of Business Analytics program.