2016 Nashville Analytics Summit Highlights
Written by: Alex Curtis | Posted Aug 17, 2016

Post by Knight Stivender, Alcott Marketing Science

We were thrilled to be part of the Nashville Technology Council‘s annual Nashville Analytics Summit last week at the Omni Hotel. More than 500 business intelligence analysts and data scientists from fields including healthcare, higher education, consumer goods, and government gathered to share experience and explore new tools together.

Our owner and CEO Jim Alcott gave a presentation on using data to solve marketing and advertising problems, which is how we approach our clients’ campaigns and what sets us apart from other agencies.

We hope we were able to give a little, since – certainly – we gained a LOT from the other speakers, vendors, and attendees of the Summit.

Here are a few key takeaways – which we’ve outlined in snackable, pictorial snapshots in keeping with the advice of several speakers who said presentation can be as important as the information underpinning it.


Colleges are doing phenomenal work

Todd Gary, Director of the Data Science Institute at Middle Tennessee State University, discussed the work of several students and colleagues at both MTSU and Lipscomb University, both of which were supporting sponsors at the Summit. Among them: a project aligned with the Centers for Disease Control that is using data to help with suicide prevention.


Understanding data is one thing…

Explaining it to the C-Suite is another. I spoke to several attendees who reiterated the value of being able to easily visualize data for executive teams, including new friends from Asurion, Tractor Supply, andOptimum.

“Being able to display the data and put it into a form your customer wants is important,” said Matthew Hoty, senior business analyst from Asurion. “Sometimes they’re asking for the whole spreadsheet, but what they want is a chart.”


Your password should not be password.

Nor should it be umpteen iterations of your kid’s name and birthday.

FBI Special Agent Scott Augenbaum teamed up with a partner to talk about some of the security breaches he’s seen and what can be done to repair them. The sad reality: not much.

“When the bad guys get your data and you call us, the chances of us getting it back are VERY challenging,” he said. Moreover, the breach almost always occurs overseas, which means that even if the culprits are caught, bringing them to justice presents whole new challenges.

What you can do is practice good data security in the first place.


Do we seriously know more about cat photos than people’s health?

I really enjoyed Casey Bennett’s talk, “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Predictive Analytics for a Pay-for-Performance World”. As Chief Scientific Officer for Faros Healthcare, Bennett talked about how new artificial intelligence technology can become a kind of GPS for healthcare.

What he means is that instead of simply giving you a map and saying, “Drive from Point A to Point B” (like in the days before GPS systems took into account real-time data from traffic conditions), healthcare can eventually get to a point where data informs clinical decisions in real time instead of only at the beginning of a patient’s care.

He drew a smart analogy between GPS and factors like medication effects, nutrition, allergies, health conditions, etc., all playing into a real-time model that helps doctors make better decisions for patients. He said his inspiration was watching his grandparents struggle with dementia and wondering why we as a culture know more about what people are likely to respond to on social media than how they’ll react to health treatments.

“Why do we know more about what will make people click on cat pictures … than what will help people dealing with these hardest problems?” he asked.

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Keep your presentation clean.

Lea Pica, Director of Data Visualization + Storytelling for Search Discovery, gave a simple but helpful presentation on how to give great presentations. Use limited text in your slides. Tell more stories. Keep the attention on yourself instead of your presentation. Don’t kill people with a million bullet points.

I heard from several folks who recommended her website. Here’s a link.

Know your people
The more you know about your customer, the more likely your business is to nail the entire customer experience – down to what kinds of magazines you order for the waiting room and what color scheme you use for your website.
This was Jim Alcott‘s driving message in using customer data to influence marketing and advertising decisions. I am biased, but there’s no one better in this space – using data insights to build and execute an effective, measurable, and creative marketing campaign. (Let us know if you need help on this front.)

A new set of eyes
Adam Yeomans, Regional Director for the Associated Press, talked about ways data scientists have mined the AP’s metadata to create new opportunities for learning and problem-solving. For example: looking at the text, tagging, and timing behind news stories and marrying that up with trends in the stock market to predict financial market changes over time.
His point has merit for all of us: by building a partnership between unexpected teams – in this case, data scientists and news editors – the AP is innovating in ways neither thought possible. Let’s all give them a hand for successful collaboration and seeing the possibility that comes from working together!

Thanks again to the Nashville Technology Council for putting together such a well-designed and engaging event. We were proud to be presenters as well as attendees, and we hope to stay in touch with the great new folks we met. In the meantime, sign up for our blog for news and information on marketing, data, and the Nashville business community.