Category Archives: Conference Notes

I was there, here is what I learned.

Live from the Workshop on Social and Business Analytics

“We have to unite the art and science of marketing. The MadMen and the MathMen.”

This post was created as a live blog from the Workshop on Social and Business Analytics (#McCombsWSBA) at McCombs School of Business on March 28, 2014. I’m not a data scientist, and much of the material presented was way over my head, so I’ll apologize both to the readers and the presenters. I know I got some of this wrong, and the rest is stated in an overly simplistic way.

Perhaps I’ll pull it down later, but for now I’ll leave it up as a resource for others who attended and want to recheck their own notes.

Welcome & Logistics: Rajiv Garg, University of Texas

Rajiv Garg is a new faculty member at McCombs, in the department of Information, Risk, and Operations, and he has played a primary role as an organizer and promoter of this event. For the first workshop of this kind at the university, that I’m aware of, he has managed to assemble a stellar list of guests and attendees.

Welcome Remarks: Janet Dukerich, Sr. Vice Provost, University of Texas

Purpose of this session is to bring industry and academics together. We can produce massive amounts of data, but how we manage to make sense of this data is a critical area to explore. There are enormous policy considerations in the management of these data. 

Session 1: John S. Butler, Chair

Shyam Venugopal, Frito-Lay/Pepsico “Analytics as an Organizational Change Force”

Frito-Lay is no longer on the sidelines on how to use business analytics as a decision tool. 

You don’t have to understand every complexity of analytics. Figure out how to organize the data and the questions. The “sexy tools” aren’t going to get you anywhere. 

When the CFO leaves a company, who do key metrics and processes stay in place, but when a CMO leaves everything changes? The reason is that marketing lacks metrics and processes that reliably tie our activities to financial return in a predictable manner.

This is easier said than done, because the world is very complex. It can be quite overwhelming to get to our consumers. We have to unite the art and science of marketing. The MadMen and the MathMen.

Frito-Lay centralized our marketing decision making for all of our brands, so that what works for the individual brand must also work for the entire portfolio.  This was a difficult transition. “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.” Continue reading Live from the Workshop on Social and Business Analytics

Advertisements

The One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. 

UT Austin at SXSW

Gosh, is it even possible to get a blogger foot in the SXSW publicity door? The whole thing is like a giant ballroom full of chicken dancers–everyone is having fun but nobody is holding your hand. I honestly don’t know what that analogy means, but here is the One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014, selfishly featuring friends and alumni of McCombs School of Business.

Friday, March 7

Ubuntu Leadership: Leaders for a Connected Africa

Africa is on the rise, with a projected GDP by 2050 bigger than the U.S. and China combined, and a population that is young and anxious to experience economic and cultural growth. As evidence of that, their cell phone network already kicks our butt, but that’s another story. Enter John Kidenda, who graduated from McCombs with support from the African Leadership Bridge, a program designed to train the next generation of African Leaders. Kidenda will be joined by presenters Frank Aswani, Rick Reeder, and current UT Austin student Takalani Malivha.

Sunday, March 9

Should You Drop Out of School to Start a Company?

Short answer, it worked great for a small handful of people. Good luck! But seriously, Andrew O’Hara dropped out of the Texas MBA program to found Chiron Health, and he wants to tell you about “multiple perspectives surrounding…the value of staying in school for starting a company to dropping out to accelerate a career in entrepreneurship,” along with Cam Houser and Michael Gibson. Does anyone edit these session descriptions?

Big Data & Web Communities: Connect with a Click

Tying online activism to community organizing in order to achieve a better world. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. Luke Kyohere is a recent MSTC grad at McCombs and he just won the Austinpreneur of the Year for 2014, so listen up. He is founder of Beyonic Technologies, which helps businesses in Africa incorporate mobile-based bulk payments into their operations. He is joined by Asha Curran, Larry Irving, and Parker Harris.

Continue reading The One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014

Breaking Gridlock and Solving Problems – Lessons from Global Warming

“These strategies open the door to tangible progress, even though it will be slow and messy.”

Dr. David G. VictorEnvironment and energy policy expert Dr. David G. Victor has been on the front lines of global environmental diplomacy for more than twenty years, so your ears perk up when he says, “The effect of all environmental treaties is nearly zero, and it’s time we seriously asked the question, ‘Is climate too hard to solve?'”

If you’ve been involved in breaking gridlock and solving problems you’ll almost certainly empathize with Victor’s frustration. Problems may seem unsolvable, particularly when motivations, authority and resources are not aligned, as in international emissions negotiations.

In the face of such constraints, how can you break the gridlock?

Reframe the Approach, And Your Definition of Success

Victor finds no surprise in the lack of progress made on global emissions. “Progress on climate requires governments to do things governments have a hard time doing,” he acknowledges. “There are high upfront costs with uncertain long-term results; and as industrial growth and emissions evolve across the globe, the natural leaders on climate issues change.”

He suggests a four-point approach for breaking gridlock that can work in any complex organization.

Continue reading Breaking Gridlock and Solving Problems – Lessons from Global Warming

The Difficulty of Being Ethical in a Difficult Economy

Notes from the McCombs Alumni Network’s 8th Annual Alumni Business Conference on February 8, 2012.

Robert PrenticeRobert Prentice, Chair, Business, Government and Society Department, McCombs School of Business

“We are all Lance Armstrong…sort of.”

Robert Prentice began his lively remarks with a suggestion to visit the Ethics Unwrapped Website, that features a new free video series on business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

“The good news is, you’re not as unethical as you could be!” he says with a smile. “Everyone of us has the opportunity to mug little old ladies and steal candy from a baby, congratulations on not doing that. But, the bad news is, you’re not as ethical as you think you are.”

“We all lie a little bit when it suits us. We are all Lance Armstrong…sort of,” he says. “So the word of the day is humility. When you read about the latest scandal of the day, everyone thinks it couldn’t happen to them, but it could.”

Prentice points out that most people, even him, want to think of themselves as good people. Most people frequently act unethically, usually in minor ways. “When we can fudge a little bit to help ourselves out we frequently do it. Not that we know we are doing it.”

He says our brain is part of the problem in business ethics or other aspects of our moral lives, influencing our decisions based on factors such as:

Continue reading The Difficulty of Being Ethical in a Difficult Economy

CEO Rex Tillerson on Energy Innovation and Investment

Notes from the McCombs Alumni Network’s 8th Annual Alumni Business Conference on February 8, 2012.

Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon MobilRex Tillerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exxon Mobil Corporation

“If we are not careful this will become known as the Land of a Thousand Nos.”

Speech Preview Notes:

Innovation creates new opportunity. This has never been more evident than in today’s energy industry, where technological breakthroughs have led to a revolution in domestic unconventional resource development, which in turn has created thousands of new jobs, millions in government revenue and billions in economic growth. Thanks to innovation, an energy transformation is now underway in North America, the dimensions of which are still unfolding. We are breaking new ground in the safe and responsible production of oil sands, shale gas, tight oil and ultra deep water.

To sustain such innovation at the breakneck pace the world needs, the International Energy Agency estimates industry will need to invest $25 trillion by 2030. As you know, successful investment requires long-term vision and discipline as well as a secure and stable environment. For such long-term investment strategies to work, business and government must each know and fulfill their duties. The duty of government is to facilitate the safe and responsible development of energy within the context of a level playing field.

This new era of abundance has made it possible for the United States to meet our nation’s needs for energy and become something we have not been in decades – a major energy exporter. We must work together to build energy policies that strengthen markets, encourage free trade, promote the rule of law and provide a sound and stable policy environment to support the investments that enable continued innovation and improvement. If we can deepen our emerging energy consensus, we will develop the diversity of sources and security of supplies that a growing and more prosperous world needs.

Tillerson’s Remarks on Technology Innovation and Investment:

Rex Tillerson began with a remark sure to please the audience of UT school of business alums. “It’s always a pleasure to get back to the Forty Acres,” he says. “Most of the places I go aren’t this pleasant.”

Continue reading CEO Rex Tillerson on Energy Innovation and Investment