UF Warrington student Caleigh Molner is using AI and analytics to help a global business

Using AI and analytics to solve business problems

Warrington students are working in UF’s HiPerGator to answer challenges for AT&T

After graduating from the University of Florida with my Bachelor of Science in Statistics in May 2020, I was eager to continue my education and expand my business knowledge. When I found out that UF’s Master of Science in Information Systems and Operations Management (MS-ISOM) program was offering a new concentration in Business Analytics, I knew this program would be a perfect fit with my interests and career goals. Unfortunately, like many, my summer internship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a non-business major who had lost her last internship opportunity just shy of starting her job search, I was concerned that I had less experience than my peers entering the ISOM program. While I lost that internship opportunity, little did I know, as a Business Analytics student, I would essentially be gaining an 8-month internship as an Analytics Consultant in Dr. Jim Hoover’s Business Analytics Practicum Course.

In the Business Analytics Practicum Course, I am working with a group of four other students on a Customer Segmentation/Propensity to Buy project for AT&T’s Cybersecurity team. The goal of the project is to identify which of AT&T’s mobility customers are most likely to buy their cybersecurity products. In achieving this project goal, our job is to create ideal customer profiles which AT&T can implement to leverage those customers identified as most likely to buy. I serve as the Project Lead and Data Scientist, acting as the main point of contact between my team and AT&T, overseeing the project deadlines, and collaborating with my team’s technical roles to ensure our solution appropriately addresses the business problem.

Although I volunteered to be a Project Lead, I was initially unsure of how well I would execute the job since I had limited experience managing group projects and navigating business relationships. However, turning to my teammates and Dr. Hoover as resources, I quickly adapted and learned some fundamental best business practices, which gave me the reassurance to move forward in my role.

As for my role as Data Scientist, I was very excited to get my hands dirty, so to speak. AT&T provided us with about 12 gigabytes of data that might be useful for the project. To give everyone an idea of exactly how much data we were working with, imagine an Excel worksheet with about 50 million rows and 20 columns. Of course, we couldn’t handle this amount of data on any regular computer. Therefore, our team had the opportunity to work on UF’s supercomputer, HiPerGator, where we ran our analysis using RStudio. By having access to HiPerGator, our team had first-hand experience with Big Data only paralleled in the real world. We saw the tremendous value of working with large amounts of data, while simultaneously learning the associated complexities and complications. And trust me, there was never a shortage of complications. We set up weekly meetings with Dr. Hoover for guidance and advice to overcome the challenges we faced. In the end, we learned strategies to reduce the wait time on our analysis and improve our productivity. We are now in our last module of the course and preparing for our final presentation to present to AT&T; I am very proud of the work we have accomplished and all we have learned throughout this project.

Dr. Hoover’s course provided me with an invaluable experience to work a real-world business analytics problem from start to finish. Throughout my experience, I improved my technical skills, management and teamwork skills, and overall business acumen. After graduating from the MS-ISOM program, I will be joining Florida Blue as an Associate Health Business Analyst. I feel confident and prepared to take on any project or role thrown my way, thanks largely in part to Dr. Hoover’s Business Analytics Practicum Course and the opportunity to work in HiPerGator.

Are you interested in students working on a project for your company? Contact Jim Hoover or Kandace Frasier for more details.