Jack Devlin

A team of Yale students — competing under the team name “Scooby-data-doo” — placed third in the annual Adobe Analytics Challenge on Oct. 28 at the tech company’s corporate headquarters in San Jose, California.

The team — which included Logan Disch SOM ’21, Jennifer Kang SOM ’21 and Cheng Zeng SOM ’21 — was one of the six finalists out of 1500 entrants. Their award in the annual student analytics challenge was $6000.

The goal of the competition was to source data analytics talent. Each year, Adobe partners with one of its customers — usually a major corporation or organization — that shares its own user data to encourage participants to produce analytics-driven recommendations to enhance the partner organization’s product. This year, the competition partnered with Major League Baseball (MLB). Using Adobe’s analytics software, student teams proposed solutions to how MLB could improve their customer experience.

“There has long been a discrepancy between the talent coming out of universities and companies’ data-driven needs,” Adobe event organizer Kevin Fu said. “We operate in the data space, which requires an analytics-driven approach to not just traditional data jobs, but also every function from product management to marketing. This skillset has become really valuable for employers, but the talent coming from universities often do not meet these urgent needs. Through this challenge, we aimed to, for one, raise awareness of the importance of data and two, cultivate enthusiasm for this new career field.”

The Yale team told the News that the competition was a valuable opportunity to explore their enthusiasm for deriving data-driven insights.

Kang said the event was especially important because “everything is becoming data-driven, no matter what industry.” She added that SOM students often aspire to become management-level professionals, and it is critical to acquire skills in analytics because every step of decision making must be informed by data.

Zeng, whose background is in mathematics, said that the competition was an opportunity to “understand the story that the numbers tell at a higher level.” The team derived recommendations for optimizing MLB’s customer experience, he added.

“The competition was an exciting opportunity for me since we were able to work with real-world data that updates every day, every minute, with a lot of potential ambiguity,” Disch said. “In classes, data analytics is taught in a very theoretical setting, where all the outcomes are already known, so it was exciting to work with something more ambiguous and realistic.”

After learning to use the Adobe analytics software together, the Yale team familiarized themselves with MLB’s website and mobile applications, and established frameworks to structure their analysis.

Kang told the News that the concepts she learned in the customer experience course at the SOM provided a strong analytical framework for considering the user’s needs.

“Our team’s findings and recommendations we presented were realistic and achievable in a short period of time,” said Disch. “We wanted to make sure the recommendations did not involve huge overhauls but rather improved upon the existing product at a low cost.”

This year’s competition marked the 14th year of the Adobe Analytics Challenge.

Viola Lee | kyounga.lee@yale.edu

Clarification, Nov. 10: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the purpose of sharing real-world data from Adobe’s partnership with different customers.