Haas Tech Challenge Takes on Big Data

Students from seven top MBA programs advised General Electric how to best tap big data analytics in the second annual Haas Technology Challenge Case Competition from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3 at the Haas School.

The team from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business took the top prize in the challenge, which was hosted by Berkeley MBA students' Haas Technology Club. The team from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business placed second.

General Electric’s Global Research Group and its new Global Software Development Center in San Ramon, Calif., were top sponsors for the events, with additional contributions from Adobe Systems and the Haas School’s Fisher Center for Management and Technology. GE, in close collaboration with Adjunct Professor Andrew Isaacs and student volunteer case writers, provided the case for the competition. Students were given 24 hours to assess how GE can leverage data analytics to generate insights that will help GE and its customers make better resource-allocation and forecasting decisions.

The winning Duke team took a three-pronged approach: to share data with clients in verticals across the supply chain; to increase the pie by building a data-sharing ecosystem across industries; and to increase sales opportunities within GE through better customer-profiling.

“This is an important topic for GE as it seeks to develop and grow its new Software Development Center here in the Bay Area,” says Benny Du, MBA 13, who served as challenge co-chair with evening and weekend student Sameera Gutta, MBA 14. “GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt echoed this importance during his recent keynote at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.”

“I have been hearing about big data as a hyped word but really saw the value and execution of it when seven business schools came together to solve a real business problem that GE is currently facing,” adds Gutta. “It was an amazing experience.”

All participants had the opportunity to hear from Dean Rich Lyons, who kicked off the competition on Thursday evening, and to meet with representatives, executives, and recruiters from GE at the reception and at the post-competition celebration dinner. Bill Ruh, vice president and global technology director at GE, delivered the opening remarks, while closing keynotes were delivered by Katherine Butler, chief legal counsel at GE Global Software, and Mike Karim, chief financial officer at GE Global Software.

Benny Du, MBA 13; Bill Ruh of GE; and Sameera Gutta, MBA 14