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Data collaboration - the benefits for industry and academia

By Matthew Revie - Posted on 11 May 2017

Dr Matthew Revie of the Management Science department highlights some departmental research projects involving data, and the benefits of the recent collaboration between Data Lab Innovation Centre and academia.

 All departments across the Business School and University are working more and more with business and government organisations in a number of different ways, utilising different mechanism for engaging with companies. This is an obvious win-win for both academia and business as researchers get access to new problems and data, while business gets access to cutting-edge models that give them a competitive advantage. On top of this, where the engagement is particularly innovative, sources of public funding are readily available to escalate this innovation in industry.

As an example, in the Department of Management Science, we have developed a strong relationship with the Data Lab Innovation Centre which has helped us collaborate with numerous companies. Examples of these companies, which contain multinational and Scottish companies, include Morgan Stanley, SynGro Ltd and Datalytics.  The Data Lab Innovation Centre has helped us and other universities create new collaborations with industry and the public sector, driven by common interests in data science. The focus of Data Lab is to strengthen Scotland's local industry and help ‘transfer world-leading research in informatics into the business world’ while ensuring that Scotland remains a hub of excellence in Analytics.

The Data Lab has funded three projects with Management Science recently. We've been working with a company in Glasgow on developing forecasting models for offshore wind turbine groups. They have a technology platform that pulls data from different services, processes the data and hands it over to different modules for analysis. We're helping them develop new analytic capabilities that can integrate with this platform and offer value for business.

As an example, when considering when to go out to maintain offshore wind turbines, the best information possible on the weather is required to ensure companies are not wasting money on starting out on a trip but having to abort it due to bad weather, or a turbine being out of commission for a while due to poor weather forecasting which turns out to be inaccurate. Both scenarios are costly for the company. Our models help to collate information and provide the best indication of what is likely to happen with weather patterns, ensuring maintenance trips are carried out at the optimal time.

Another project with a Central Scotland SME again centres on forecasting models but this time with the focus on increasing revenue using data from their customer database. Specifically, we were looking at their business-to-business sales. The company was using a customer survey tool created at SBS but, having gathered three years’ worth of data, there was a big gap between the information they had and how they could use that data to improve their performance. Collaboratively with our Computer and Information Sciences Department, we worked with them on how they could best utilise that data by targeting what customers were spending, who in particular was increasing sales and the reasons for it, and how the company could use that knowledge to increase profits.

By working in this collaborative way, SMEs tap into new knowledge, expertise and support from their university partner, and ultimately benefit from innovative solutions which can have considerable benefits - we have seen one of the SMEs we work with begin to scale up their international portfolio as a result.

All industry sectors can benefit from data – finance is an obvious one but medicine, law, agriculture, finance, or tourism can all benefit from improved use of data. By partnering with universities, organisations can benefit from getting access to new methods and continuing to ensure that Scotland remains a source of excellence for analytics capabilities.

The Data Lab also funds scholarships for our MSc in Data Analytics and MSc in Business Analysis & Consulting. To find out more, click here



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