Business Intelligence Group

The iSchool is home to the Business Intelligence Group (BIG), a fast-paced, real-world learning opportunity for graduate students working in interdisciplinary teams to solve information and technology problems for international, national, and regional clients. Led by Associate Professor Yoo-Seong Song, who brings extensive experience as a consultant and an entrepreneur, this program offers a unique learning opportunity for students. Student consultants at BIG acquire and practice problem-solving skills critical to the success of today’s organizations. BIG's clients include multinational corporations, nonprofit organizations, and technology start-ups.

Consulting projects

Studying the impact of blockchain technology on the agribusiness and food supply chain
Creating a dashboard for global sales management for a manufacturing company
Building a business model and assessing market opportunities for a mobile healthcare device manufacturer
Identifying talent gaps for data scientists
Developing an investment proposal for a genomic testing start-up
Creating a knowledge management roadmap for an international university consortium
Developing a growth plan using data analytics for a sports management start-up
AGCO logo

"We were extremely impressed with the talent and professionalism of the student consultants.  As data analytic skills are in high demand, working with the Business Intelligence Group helped us to create an operational dashboard using Tableau that takes in distinct sales-related datasets and identify outliers/anomalies and business trends.  The student consultants were able to add in their creativity and worked alongside us to create the appropriate visualizations.  We put the output from the project into production, which delivered immediate value and served as a great proof of concept for larger-scale projects internally." — AGCO
 

How BIG works

Students are assigned to different teams and engage with selected clients from industry and community organizations. Projects range from drafting engagement letters to delivering final presentations. A typical student team consists of one project manager and consultants. The faculty advisor may assign a senior consultant if necessary. The team will have either weekly or biweekly calls with the client throughout the engagement.

Areas of expertise

  • Data analytics
  • Entrepreneurship based on data analytics
  • Knowledge management
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Data curation and management
  • Information security
  • Business and technology research

Outcomes

Clients receive:

  • Solutions to complex problems via BIG's expertise as well as access to experts on campus
  • Deep understanding of students' talents and innovative approaches
  • Creative recommendations from student teams with diverse subject backgrounds and work experiences

Students learn to:

  • Approach complex problems using proven methods of strategy and management consulting
  • Produce professional deliverables that have true impact on the clients' businesses

Project lifecycle

Clients typically connect with Associate Professor Song six to eight weeks in advance of the semester with a list of projects. Once the semester begins, the life cycle runs eight to twelve weeks.

Weeks 1-2: Project team is assigned
Weeks 3-6: Project launches with NDA and initial
Weeks 6-9: Focused research with biweekly client
Week 10: Project midpoint and client confirmation of direction
Weeks 10-12: Final presentation to client

Students worked with COUNTRY Financial at the Research Park on a project examining the impact of autonomous vehicles and smart cities on the insurance industry. The student consulting team's research provided the company with a glimpse of how the additional liability autonomous vehicles bring would change the landscape of the insurance industry. 

Julia Hart

It was very clear that the students working with COUNTRY Financial spent a lot of time researching and analyzing trends and forecasts for autonomous vehicles and connected cities in the insurance industry. The team was very dependable and always came to meetings prepared and able to answer without hesitation any question asked about the topic.

Julia Hart, Site Leader, COUNTRY Financial DigitaLab

Have a research project suitable for a semester-long collaboration? Contact me for information on how to work with the Business Intelligence Group.

Yoo-Seong Song
Yoo-Seong Song, Associate Professor & BIG Leader