Adobe and MLB Team Up to Create the Next Generation of Analytical Talent

Contest aims to promote analytics skills among college students

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Every organization has felt the acute shortage of workers with analytic skills. But while the headlines often focus on the lack of data scientists, the far larger problem is that organizations need more employees who understand how to use analytics tools in the course of their regular job duties. Being able to use analytics is quickly becoming a “must have” skill, in much the same way that using PowerPoint or Excel went from being a technical skill mastered by a few to a part of nearly every employee’s job.

Adobe is aware of this shortage and recently came up with a creative way to address it by launching an analytics contest, in collaboration with Major League Baseball. Participating college students used Adobe Analytics to analyze actual MLB data to identify trends and propose new ways of engaging fans.

“We wanted to expose students to using data and analytic tools to draw insights into a real-world scenario,” said Amber Thornton, product manager with Adobe Analytics. The 1,500 students who qualified for the competition have provided great insights into MLB data, she added.

The simplicity and power of Adobe Analytics allow students to creatively assess the data and look for meaningful insights without spending days learning how to use the software. In fact, students receive just two hours of training: one hour as an introduction, and one hour of more focused training after they’ve started their work. The accessibility of Adobe Analytics shows how easy it is for any worker to add analytics to their skills inventory.

As Thornton noted, “We don’t hold anything back in this contest. These are the same tools that any Fortune 100 company gets, and the feedback from the students is that they didn’t realize how easy the tools are to use.”

One interesting insight that arose from evaluating the data from the stadium experience was an opportunity to promote the communal viewing of games and the ability to share perspectives with others, either at the stadium or at home.

MLB is of course excited to be the beneficiary of the students’ analytic efforts, but other businesses are taking notice. Some of Adobe’s customers have even offered jobs or internships to the contestants. The firms are impressed with the knowledge and skills that the students possess on day one on the job. They have found the students who took part in the competition to be “plug and play” employees who help the organization immediately. The response has been so positive that Adobe is going to roll out similar contests in other countries soon.

The Adobe/MLB endeavor is a creative approach to increasing the size of the “analytics-aware” workforce. The contest makes clear that with Adobe Analytics, acquiring those skills doesn’t require days of training; a couple of hours is all that’s needed. This is critically important to data-driven businesses that need employees who can effectively work with data and find the most valuable insights.

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