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Published: 20/01/2023

Perspective on Business Intelligence interaction at Academic Institutions: Discussing BI Day at Wrocław Tech

BI Day

There is a great demand for business intelligence professionals in the world today. About 80% of the employees in an average organization still need to leverage the Business Intelligence tools available to them. The future workforce must be prepared and skilled to facilitate solving challenges that the world faces today. 

Academia strives hard to give students the best theoretical and practical knowledge. At the same time, the industry also needs to do its part by supporting students and academics.

Przemek Szleter, the CEO of DAC.digital says, “The role of businesses and industry experts has always been important for the future workforce to gain the required skills and competencies that can contribute towards any technological development to flourish. Today, with the pace at which technology is advancing, this role has become even more important. Industry requires skilled manpower in business analytics, business intelligence tools (BI Tools), predictive analytics, market intelligence, embedded BI, competitive intelligence, and similar fields.”

At DAC.digital, we pay special attention to collaboration with academia by participating in various R&D projects and events, organizing conferences and workshops, and having some exciting competitions lined up shortly. To know more about our research, check out the Case Study section.

DAC.digital at Business Intelligence Day

One of the recent events where we interacted with students and academia was Business Intelligence Day (BI Day), organized at Wrocław University of Science and Technology on January 10, 2023. Dr. Yash Chawla (R&D Communications Advisor at DAC.digital) represented us in the panel of experts to whom the students of the Business Intelligence (BI) Master Program at the Wrocław Tech presented their initial thesis work in the form of 3MT (3 Minute Thesis Talks), and gained valuable feedback. 

BI day

The Industry-Academia Panelists

DAC.digital shared the panel with other experts from industry and academia. Among the industry panelists, apart from Dr. Chawla from DAC.digital, there were Michał Adamczyk, Alex Hartmann, and Jeremias van der Wardt from HeadFound; Kamil Śwętek and Michał Marianiuk from BNY Mellon; and Emanuele Fabbiani from xtream. Among the academia panelists from Wrocław Tech were Prof. Rafał Weron, Dr. Katarzyna Maciejowska, and Dr. Dimitrios Sotiros.

The panel represented a very diverse group of experts, having different backgrounds and expertise, which enabled them to provide feedback to the students from a multidimensional point of view. Hence, helping the students to get more holistic input about their work.

3-minute talks – a contest

To motivate the students, the 3MT by students were organized in a context where the industry panel, including DAC.digital, prepared special prizes for the top performers. The “rules of the game” were simple, which Prof. Weron (the event organizer) shared at the beginning of BI Day. Each student had 3 minutes and three slides to present the work to the audience and panelists.

All the panelists graded each presentation, and at the end, the results were aggregated to declare the best performers. Check out the results below!

It is worth noting that this whole event was not extracurricular. It is a part of the formal curriculum of the MSc in Business Intelligence at Wrocław Tech, which Prof. Weron chairs. 

Between each block of presentation, there was a Q&A and discussion about the students’ presentations, where the panelists and audience members had an opportunity to ask questions, give feedback in the form of constructive criticism, and also point out the positives. Between the blocks, the industry experts also gave three-minute talks about their companies. 

“It was an exciting experience because there were four blocks of presentations, and each of them ended with a 3-minute presentation, a kind of a pitch about the company, from the panelists. At this time, it was the students, as well as other panelists, who gave comments and feedback to them. It helped students open up and made the whole event lively and positive.” shared Dr. Chawla. 

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Talks by Industry experts – An informative exposure for the students

Longer 20-minute presentations by students followed the 3MT by industry experts. Panelists from each company presented some examples and insights from their company that would give students an understanding of how the concepts of BI are currently being used in a real-world environment. Topics discussed were as under:

Emmanuele Fabbiani from xtreme shared about one of their projects related to Business Intelligence, “Power price scenarios for the European market.” He showcased how they built different Power price scenarios that aided the business executives in deciding if or not a particular investment was worth pursuing. 

Next, Alex Hartmann shared about “Headhunting use-case” from his company and how they obtained the information for job vacancies and then connected appropriate candidate profiles to the companies looking for them. 

And last but not least, Dr. Yash Chawla talked about the “Innovative solutions from DAC.digital,” showing the unique projects we have developed for our clients. From the application of computer vision to blockchain and from the backend to UI/UX, our unique solutions were well appreciated.

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Why are events like BI Day important in the academic and business field? 

At DAC.digital, we believe such events are significant, and we could elaborate on this at length. We were curious to understand the organizers, participants, and other panelists’ point-of-view. Hence, Pola Włodarczyk (Junior Communication Specialist at DAC.digital) reached out to them and asked about the importance of events such as BI Days. We were delighted that all of them responded and shared their opinion, which we are elaborating on in this section. 

Prof. Rafał Weron, the organizer of BI Days and the general chair of Business intelligence at Wrocław Tech, pointed out that workshops like BI Day provide students with a holistic understanding of the societal and industry perspectives of the knowledge gained during their studies:

“The Business Intelligence (BI) Master Program at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology is a unique educational offering that is designed to equip students with the latest business knowledge and a solid foundation in descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. By leveraging computational and visualization techniques, students gain the ability to detect trends, challenge assumptions, simulate realistic scenarios, predict outcomes, and deepen their understanding of the world through data-driven insights”, claims Prof. Rafał Weron. 

From a business user’s point of view, BI Day is beneficial not only for students but for companies too. Emanuele Fabiani, Head of Machine Learning at xtream, notes that universities should teach concepts and methods, but it’s up to companies to go the last mile and prepare students for the job: 

“Take the 3-mins talk the student delivered during the BI Day: a researcher can comment on the scientific value of the content, but a professional can suggest how to make it more attractive for a customer or an investor. Allowing the businesses in the academic classes to complement (not replace) the formal education is a win-win solution.”, said Emanuele.

BI Day is a chance for students to practice their presentation skills in front of an audience with different backgrounds and perspectives. Jeremias van der Wardt, a Team Lead at HeadFound, also talks about the joint benefits of the BI Day:

 “These events are a great way for companies to attract new talents. While it is inspiring for companies to listen to interesting research projects, it is motivating for students to see that there are companies out there, like Headfound, that are keeping up with the latest research results to continually implement state-of-the-art technology.”

In addition, an event like Business Intelligence provides an opportunity to see examples of how to apply the material learned in practice, which is often overlooked in higher education. Alex Hartmann introduced the importance of students at HeadFound: 

“At Headfound, most of our Data Science staff are students, which means that our efforts are largely based on material learned in class. Additionally, students have a chance to ask specific questions they may have, getting answers from people who work in the field they aim to get into. Further, for us at Headfound, events like BI Day allow us to establish a connection with like-minded students and other companies.” Alex shared. 

How do students feel about initiatives like BI Day? From their responses, it was evident that they appreciated such events, which are engaging and informative.  

“BI Day is a time to prove yourself as the three-minute presentations in front of representatives of business and science is a real challenge. BI Day is also a moment when we gain valuable tips and advice for the future, which makes us better speakers. Finally, BI Day is a moment when we can hear what challenges guests from the business face, which is also a clue for us where we can use the knowledge gained in our major.”, shared Julia Nasiadka, a student of Business Intelligence at Wrocław Tech, and the second runner up at the 3 MT contest. 

Another student, Paweł Kasztelan, shared, “Events like that stimulate students to be creative and help develop interpersonal communication skills which are essential in the work environment, especially in relations with clients. The challenging part of creating innovative ideas is validating them in real-world scenarios, and this is where BI day allows us to exchange our thoughts with experts.”

Kornelia Pikiewicz, who emerged as the runners-up of the context, shared, “For me, the main advantage of the BI Day is the possibility to get feedback and perspective on our work from the practitioners, who deal with these kinds of problems daily. The opportunity to build connections with business representatives is crucial for the development of our future careers.”

Finally, Katarzyna Chęć, who won the competition, shared, “During events such as BI Day, we are able to show ourselves in a friendly environment, presenting our work done as a part of our studies. Thanks to that, we can gain the interest of companies, who in turn have the opportunity to attract future good employees.”

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Business and science at DAC.digital 

DAC.digital is a unique company. We emphasize R&D and cooperation between business, science, and academia. It is why we focus on the R&D commercialization of our products and support our clients and collaborators in the same. “There is steep competition in the market, and it vital to keep innovating and pushing the envelope of technology from the business growth perspective.”, shares Radosław Szmit (Head of Growth and Business Partner at DAC.digtital). 

We don’t just stress that industry-academia collaboration is essential; we implement it. One of our most successful proprietary systems, MuuMap, is a product based on optimization algorithms developed with the Gdansk University of Technology. Another example of practical cooperation between business and science is the prototype created as part of the Productive 4.0 project in consortium with the Gdansk University of Technology.

Collaboration with academic centers allows us to develop in various aspects and to contribute back to them as we also have several employees from academia – not only people with doctoral degrees but also working students. There is also the opportunity for students to participate in internship programs. Following are some of the key concepts that we recommend industry-academia collaboration in:

Business Intelligence tools

Business intelligence (BI) tools are applications that collect and process large amounts of unstructured data from internal and external systems, and provide actionable insights for managers and decision-makers. Key areas that academia can look for support from the industry include business analytics, business intelligence data, BI tools, self-service BI tools, business intelligence software (BI software), Advanced analytics, BI dashboards, Business processes, and business operations optimization, business metrics, performance metrics, BI developers, BI applications, BI dashboards, business intelligence strategy,

Data Analytics

Data analytics (DA) is the process of examining data sets to discover trends and draw conclusions about the information contained within them. Analyzing data is increasingly being performed with the assistance of specialized systems and software. There are almost 400,000 data analytics jobs vacant in Europe. Key skills that academia can look for support from the industry include: configuring data sources, data preparation, data visualization tools, data warehouses, data analysis techniques, data infrastructure, connecting multiple data sources, framework to provide insights, and reports.

Preparing students to be Business Intelligence Analysts

As discussed so far in this article, the role of the industry is important in supporting academia to run a successful BI program. It would ensure that skilled and competent human resources that can help businesses leverage the benefits of business intelligence grow in numbers. It is also vital that those working as business intelligence analysts, business intelligence vendors, etc., in large companies come forward to share their experiences and knowledge with the next-generation workforce. Some key areas that students can focus on are data analytics, business analytics, self-service business intelligence, data visualizations, BI software, data mining, ad hoc reporting, business decisions, supply chain, big data, customer behavior, and so on.

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Quotes we received from Industry and Academia participants and organizers of BI Day

Prof. Rafał Weron (Member of the Academia Europaea, Professor of Management Science, Head of the Department of Operations Research and Business Intelligence Wrocław Tech, Poland)

“The Business Intelligence (BI) Master Program at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology is a unique educational offering that is designed to equip students with the latest business knowledge and a solid foundation in descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. By leveraging computational and visualization techniques, students gain the ability to detect trends, challenge assumptions, simulate realistic scenarios, predict outcomes, and deepen their understanding of the world through data-driven insights. To supplement the curriculum, the program includes BI Days. These all-day workshops aim to provide students with a holistic understanding of the societal and industry perspectives of the knowledge gained during their studies.

During the first BI Day in November 2022, students were engaged in the World’s Future social simulation game developed by the Centre for Systems Solutions. They took on high-level leadership roles and experienced the pressure and excitement of making trade-offs and finding synergies in pursuit of sustainable development. The second BI Day in January 2023 provided students with the opportunity to present their research projects to a panel of industry experts (BNY Mellon, DAC.digital, HeadFound, xtream) and academics. This hands-on learning approach enhances not only analytical skills but also develops soft skills, preparing students to tackle the challenges of their future careers confidently. By joining our program, students will be well-equipped to make a real impact in the business world. Such events also provide an opportunity for the industry to attract future talent and establish strong connections with academia.

We look forward to welcoming more companies to participate in our BI Days in the upcoming years.”

Emanuele Fabbiani (Head of Machine Learning at xtream, Italy)

“Initiatives like the BI Days are helpful both for students, professors, and companies. We often hear that the university should prepare students for their future jobs. I do not believe that it is the case. The university should teach notions and, most importantly, methods: it is up to companies to cover the last mile and make students ready for their job. Take the 3-mins talk the student delivered during the BI Day: a researcher can comment on the scientific value of the content, but a professional can suggest how to make it more attractive for a customer or an investor. Allowing the businesses in the academic classes to complement (not replace) the formal education is a win-win solution.”

Alex Hartmann (Data Scientist at Headfound GmbH, Germany, Student at Maastricht University, Netherlands)

“I think that for students, events such as BI Day represent a great opportunity to present their work to people from the industry, gaining valuable feedback not only on the presentation but on the content too. Also, as a student myself, I think one of the most valuable things is that students get the opportunity to see examples of the learned material being applied in practice, which is often lacking attention in higher education. At Headfound, most of our Data Science staff are students, which means that our efforts are largely based on material learned in class. Additionally, students have a chance to ask specific questions they may have, getting answers from people who work in the field they aim to get into. Further, for us at Headfound, events like BI Day allows us to establish a connection with like-minded students and other companies.”

Jeremias van der Wardt (Team Lead – Data Science at Headfound, Germany)

“It allows students to practice their presentation skills in front of an audience with a potentially different educational background. Also, these kinds of events are a great way for companies to attract new talents. While it is inspiring for companies to listen to interesting research projects, it is motivating for students to see that there are companies out there, like Headfound, that are keeping up with the latest research results to continually implement state-of-the-art technology.” 

BI Day

Quotes from 3MT Contest Winner (The Students of M.Sc. Business Intelligence at Wrocław Tech, Poland)

1st Place – Katarzyna Chęć

“Even if we achieve very good results at the University, it is difficult for us to find a first job. Our CVs just get lost in the crowd. During events such as BI Day we are able to show ourselves in a friendly environment, presenting our work done as a part of our studies. Thanks to that we can gain the interest of companies, who in turn have the opportunity to attract future good employees.”

2st Place – Kornelia Pikiewicz

“For me, the main advantage of the BI Day is the possibility to get feedback and perspective on our work from the practitioners, who deal with this kind of problems on a daily basis. The opportunity to build connections with business representatives is crucial for the development of our future careers. Moreover, I believe that presenting before an audience that is not purely academic is beneficial for creating our first professional image.”

3rd Place – Julia Nasiadka

“BI Day is a time to prove yourself as the three-minute presentations in front of representatives of business and science is a real challenge. BI Day is also a moment when we gain valuable tips and advice for the future, which makes us better speakers. Finally, BI Day is a moment when we can hear what challenges invited guests from the business face, which is also a clue for us where we can use the knowledge gained in our major. BI Day is a great day!”

Paweł Kasztelan

“BI day and similar events are crucial for a student’s growth. Events like that stimulate students to be creative and help develop interpersonal communication skills, which are essential in the work environment, especially in relations with clients. The challenging part of creating innovative ideas is validating them in real world scenarios, and this is where BI day allows us to exchange our thoughts with experts.”

BI day

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