It started as a casual conversation with a friend.
That is how Dr. Gordon Burtch, PHD ’13, says he decided to obtain his PhD in management information systems (MIS) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He was already working as a consultant with an undergraduate degree in software engineering. A doctoral degree, he thought, would help him harness the experiences he had in the business industry and explore research in an entrepreneurial way.
Today, he has received two of the top honors available to young scholars.
At the end of 2017, Burtch received both the Early-Career Award from the Association of Information Systems and the Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award from the INFORMS Information Systems Society. Both awards recognize individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already greatly contributed to the field of information systems through research, teaching, or service.
As an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Burtch focuses on understanding what drives people to contribute online—such as supporting a crowdfunding campaign or donating to a charity. He analyzes website data to model and predict consumer behavior, explores social factors like the influence of peer groups, and designs interventions that aim to encourage people to get involved in online campaigns.
While Burtch says these awards are quite the honor, he credits his experience at the Fox School with much of his success today.
“I was given the freedom to explore collaborations with whomever I wanted,” Burtch explains. After multiple collaborative research efforts, including with senior associate dean of research Paul Pavlou, Burtch found his niche working with Dr. Sunil Wattal, associate professor in the MIS department.
In working with Wattal, Burtch discovered an interest in econometrics and was able to expand his research expertise under the guidance of his mentor. Being at the Fox School, he says, gave him resources and ability to experiment until he found his forte.
Now, Burtch is seen as an emerging leader in his field. Not only is he dedicated to his research efforts, but he also takes time to mentor students. “I always tell my students,” he says, “to start from the business problem first and work backwards.”
While the awards are an honor, Burtch is not complacent. His research direction is constantly evolving, but Burtch hopes to expand his research to support the public good. He plans to apply his insights to stimulate positive social behaviors, such as encouraging people to volunteer or donate money to charities.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
The Philadelphia Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history.
Experts from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) are available to discuss the following subjects relating to the Super Bowl: advertisements; city pride and team branding; consumer behavior; economic impact; event production; risk management; social media; sport betting; ticket markets and availability; and tourism impact.
For interview requests, email Christopher A. Vito at email@example.com.
Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Senior Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Fox School of Business
Dr. Angelika Dimoka, Associate Professor of Marketing and Management Information Systems, Fox School of Business
Available to discuss: Neuromarketing research using fMRI brain scans to identify the anatomy of the brain that significantly better predicts the success of TV advertising.
Dr. Subodha Kumar, Paul R. Anderson Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Fox School of Business
Available to discuss: The effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising, as well as social media analytics and web analytics as they pertain to the Super Bowl
CITY PRIDE/TEAM BRAND
Dr. Thilo Kunkel, Assistant Professor of Sport and Recreation Management, STHM
Available to discuss: The Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance and its spill-over effect on the civic and community pride, and team branding
Dr. Joseph Mahan, Associate Professor and Chair of Sport and Recreation Management, STHM
Available to discuss: Sport-related consumer behavior, like the extent to which the Super Bowl will inspire merchandise and ticket purchases, TV viewership, etc.
Dr. Jeremy S. Jordan, Associate Dean, STHM
Dr. Daniel C. Funk, Professor and Washburn Research Fellow, STHM
Available to discuss: The economic impact of major sporting events
Ira Rosen, Assistant Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management, STHM
Available to discuss: Event production, entertainment booking, client account management, and service consulting
Michael McCloskey, Assistant Professor of Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management, Fox School of Business
Available to discuss: Riot and civil authority risk management and security around large-scale events
M. Michael Zuckerman, Associate Professor of Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management, Fox School of Business
Available to discuss: Risk management around large-scale events, including terrorism readiness
Amy Lavin, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems, Fox School of Business
Available to discuss: Social media’s role in coverage of the Super Bowl and other large-scale events
Dr. George Diemer, Assistant Professor of Sport and Recreation Management, STHM
Available to discuss: Sport economics, including odds and probabilities and sport betting
Dr. Joris Drayer, Associate Professor of Sport and Recreation Management, STHM
Available to discuss: Supply and demand of Super Bowl tickets and secondary ticket markets that include StubHub, Seat Geek and others
Dr. Robert Li, Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management, STHM
Available to discuss: Destination marketing, and the mechanisms through which a location (like a Super Bowl host) can market itself to support tourism and travel
This was a busy—and for some, award-winning—fall semester for the Fox School research community!
On October 18, the Office of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives hosted its 7th Annual PhD Paper Competition in the MBA Commons of Alter Hall. This year, 31 doctoral students and alumni submitted papers and created visual posters of their research to compete for more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.
Papers were evaluated by Fox School faculty, who chose winners in categories including first year, second year, and third-to-fourth year doctoral students. Students also competed for best dissertation proposals and completed dissertations. The 15-member evaluation committee judged the rigor, novelty, and presentation of the research, as well as its contribution to theory, practice, or policy.
Winners included Lauren Spirko of the Statistical Science Department, who won first place in the completed dissertation category for her paper proposing a statistical method for analyzing enormous data sets of genes and their various types of expressions. See a full list of participants and winners here.
On November 1, the Office hosted its 15th Young Scholars Interdisciplinary Forum, which aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborative research projects that span disciplines within and outside of the Fox School. Together, twenty Fox doctoral students and faculty members received nearly $35,000 in grant funding for their research.
Han Chen, a Marketing and Management Information Systems PhD student, received a grant for her research aiming to understand the neurophysiological responses to branding and marketing with respect to age. The funding will go toward the purchase of eye-tracking glasses to monitor subjects’ eye movements when reviewing physical and digital advertising materials.
The Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program also had students succeed this semester. Terry T. Namkung, a first-year DBA student and CEO of DC Energy Systems, was chosen as one of seven finalists in the 2017 Global Business Challenge. He presented his research—an energy panel that aims to reduce energy waste by 30% by decreasing the inefficiencies of Alternating Current to Direct Current adapters, converters, and inverters—in Brisbane, Australia, in early November.
Carla Cabarle, a second-year DBA student, showcased her work at the Fall 2017 Meeting of the Institute for Fraud Prevention. As one of five finalists, Carla presented on using analytics to predict the risk of financial statement fraud in crowdfunding to academics and industry experts in financial risk and fraud management.
On behalf of Paul Pavlou, senior associate dean of research and Milton F. Stauffer Professor in the Fox School, the Office congratulates the doctoral students and faculty on a very successful fall semester.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Eleven alumni leaders share insights on how technology is shaking up today’s major industries and constantly reshaping business possibility.
You can’t open a magazine, a newspaper, or Twitter now without encountering a story about the rise of artificial intelligence and how this will impact businesses and economies around the world. Will the robots displace workers, leaving behind a massive trail of catastrophic unemployment? Or will the relationship be more harmonious as robots optimize productivity and maximize efficiency boosting both the bottom line and free time for us humans? Nobody knows. But one thing is for certain: Technology has brought and will continue to bring radical changes and thrilling opportunities for business innovation industry-wide. To get a firmer grasp on how some of the major industries and fields of business are positioning themselves for the future, we asked 11 Fox School of Business alumni leaders—representing a variety of industries from finance and professional sports, to transportation and healthcare—to examine what’s on the horizon and to share their insights.
James Poyser, BBA ’92
Grammy Award-winning musician, The Roots
“Advances in technology have totally changed how music is made, performed, taught, marketed, and sold. Hit records are not only made in studios anymore, but in bedrooms, basements, and even on smartphones. Traditional instruments are being replaced with digital ones (check out a Stro Elliot video on YouTube). Artists are foregoing the traditional route of signing to record labels, and putting their music out online or finding other ways to collect payment. And more changes are coming, too. The rules keep changing and evolving. What new advances are in the future? I know they’re coming. How will we create music in the future? How will we listen to music in the future? How will we purchase music? Actually, will music even be purchased anymore? (This is when it gets scary: Do I matter anymore? Is there any value left in music?) Whatever changes take place, I believe those that adapt to the changes, keep their heads on a swivel, or have the mindset to change, will be positively affected.”
Eric Salfi, BBA ’91
CPA, Partner, Cwienkala & Salfi
“Many CPAs didn’t know how to deal with QuickBooks when it was first released and it put them out of business—the advances in technology and the way accounting is done now has changed even more dramatically since. We’re moving toward strictly cloud-based activities where there’s more interaction and my clients send documents and information through a portal. The accountant’s role has evolved, too. It used to be about bookkeeping—handling bank statements, creating financial reports, and so on. QuickBooks, and now cloud software, eliminated all the people sitting in a room somewhere compiling this information, but it still requires an expert to manage the software. The accountant has evolved and, for me, it’s more of a business consultant role now. Clients don’t just need me to prepare a tax return; I now have deeper relationships with my clients and I act as a personal advisor, helping them value new businesses or solve cash flow problems. One of the big issues, as information’s moved to the cloud, is cybersecurity. There’s more data accessible now, so creating a safe, encrypted portal that allows clients to interact with us is essential. You need to adjust and adapt with technology or you’ll be left behind. I look forward to embracing whatever changes come next.”
Adam Lyons, BBA ’09
Founder & Chairman, The Zebra
“Technology has changed and is changing insurance, though no one would hesitate to admit the industry was painfully slow to welcome the insurtech revolution. At the Zebra, we’re a technology company in the insurance space, and we believe the right technology, applied by people who truly understand the profound complexities of the insurance industry, can create efficiencies which simplify everything from assessing risk to distribution to claims management and beyond. We’ve seen incredible developments in the property and casualty insurance industry, like peer-to-peer insurance and pay-per-mile models, and we’re creating an insurance search engine where consumers can access, understand, and use all of these innovations. We’re creating essential technology which informs and educates consumers so they can understand their options and make the right decisions for their unique needs. Environmental factors are critical as well, but they’re unpredictable. Still, we’ve seen trends showing an increase in devastating storms, most recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, for example, which just reaffirms the need for people to have the resources to find the right coverage for their circumstances to protect themselves.”
Bob Rosenthal, BBA ’85
Partner, Envision Land Use
“Real estate, like everything, is in the middle of the internet revolution. Philadelphia was dead 20 years ago, back when I went to Temple. There was a void between City Hall and the suburbs—then the millennials came. The parts that have grown, like Fishtown, used to be manufacturing areas, and the buildings have now been repurposed. Everyone talks about the retail change and how people now buy online, but the same has happened in everything from healthcare to office space. What once was a retail center is no longer a retail center; this battle’s been going on for years in the city and is now hitting the suburbs. I’m 57 and right now I’m working from my car on an iPhone. People don’t need office space the way they did—with a lobby, a huge campus, and a front desk—especially younger people without ties to old ways of doing business. And when the millennials come back to the suburbs—which they’re already starting to do—they want lifestyle options just as they do in the city. They want to be able to easily Uber or walk to a bar or a restaurant. So even in new developments in the suburbs, we’re aiming to make these changes. With more businesses moving online and changing needs, land uses change so quickly that governing authorities can’t keep up and many aren’t willing to change. People are always frightened of change, but we must keep moving forward and adapting.”
Heather Qader, MBA ’16
Manager of Business Development, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce
“Technology is slowly changing local government for the better. Philadelphia, like other cities, is realizing that to compete at a global and national scale, it must adapt its infrastructure. These adaptations look like the digitization of SEPTA’s ticketing system, installation of Indego Bike Share citywide, parking kiosks that allow the use of cards instead of change, and an overhaul of the City of Philadelphia website to create a more user-friendly interface and allowing for more public engagement and user ease. With every new administration, personnel changes occur and there is a transitional period required to get new personnel up to speed. One initiative that has survived the Michael Nutter administration and is currently embraced by the Jim Kenney administration is StartupPHL, a platform that funds worthy initiatives and connects startups to resources in the Philadelphia tech ecosystem. The most recent StartupPHL call for ideas round funded five organizations with $100,000 to train instructors, supply equipment, and teach children the technology skills that they need to be globally competitive. We are keeping up—not as fast as many of the lean startups here in Philadelphia—but progress is being made.”
Salvatore DeTrane, BBA ’93
Managing Director, Empactful Capital LLC
“Most innovation in healthcare technologies in recent decades has been in medical devices, drug therapies, and medical diagnostics. These have led to people living longer, more productive lives. The downside is these advancements have resulted in a financially unsustainable cost trend. The next frontier is entrepreneurs disrupting healthcare with innovative information technology solutions. There have been massive investments in the last 15 years in electronic health records, claims systems, genomics, social determinant data, and big data software. Some of the innovation opportunities include practical applications of machine learning, natural language processing, intelligent workflow advancements, and advanced analytics that offer actionable insights. Proactive interventions will enable healthcare providers and payers to better manage care, reduce healthcare costs, improve quality, and assess risk of managing populations and encourage business model evolution. With the expected increase of today’s industry expenditures in the U.S. from $3.5 to $5.5 trillion by 2025, this transformation will prevent a financial crisis. All payers—whether health plans, employers, or consumers—are demanding more efficient and effective healthcare and transparency. The industry now stands at a pivotal moment. It must transform into a system that leverages these data/IT investments to support better, more informed decisions by each major constituent. And I think Temple, given Fox’s programs and its health system and medical school, is positioned to support the innovation required to transform our healthcare system.”
Joe Heller, BS ’05
Vice President of Marketing, Philadelphia Flyers
“Broadcast coverage of live sports events continues to evolve and advance at a rapid rate. Viewers are getting more access to their favorite teams and players through virtual and augmented reality, cable cams, and GoPro cameras. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see dedicated channels allowing viewers to experience the duration of a live game straight from a players helmet through a virtual reality headset. This could be similar to the way motorsports has cameras mounted on cars, or the NHL on referees and players at the All-Star Game. Stadiums and arenas will be continually challenged on new ways to adopt VR/AR into their venues, improve WiFi, provide charging stations in the seats, show live video helmet feeds on the big screens, and alike, to bring the comforts and expectations of home viewing to the game. From an NHL team perspective, the Flyers recognize we’re becoming our own media company by placing a greater emphasis on content about the team, connecting players and fans through mobile platforms, providing behind the scenes access, and much more. As tech advancements are made, pro sports will continue to look for new ways to be early adopters and integrate them into event coverage, for home viewers and in arenas and stadiums.”
Marco Herbas, MBA ’15
Whole Securitization Funding, Ford Motor Company
“Self-driving cars are an inevitable reality that will disrupt and transform the industry for its incumbents as it opens new doors for non-traditional, automotive value-chain players able to purvey hardware and software that enable interconnected and autonomous vehicles (AVs). AVs, along with mobility and continuous development of electrified powertrains, are creating a paradigm shift in the lengthy, bureaucratic processes engrained in traditional automakers’ decision-making, essentially forcing them to become more agile in their product and systems development lifecycles to emulate these potential tech entrants. The notion of AVs is not only disrupting the auto industry, but the transportation ecosystem as a whole. Some examples may include public transportation, where cities may have to partner with automobile purveyors to deploy fleets of self-driving vehicles, as well as insurance providers where AVs create a safer commuter environment, meanwhile curtailing risk and impacting insurers’ revenue streams. Ford has communicated it intends to pursue automotive and high-growth mobility businesses. In 2016, senior leadership announced the company would commence mass production of level-4 autonomous vehicles by 2021 available for ride-sharing/ride-hailing services. Key underpinnings include the launch of the next generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Development Vehicle, the creation of its mobility division, as well as its acquisition of Chariot, an app-based, on-demand shuttle service. And Ford is investing $1 billion in start-up Argo AI to further its advancement in AV development by leveraging the startup’s robotics technology.”
Andrew Bertolazzi, EMBA ’97
Vice President, Ronin Security Solutions LLC
“Seaborne shipping accounts for approximately two-thirds of global trade, with over $4 trillion worth of goods transported annually. One of the major challenges the industry faces—increased global competitiveness, new regulations, reliance on automation, etc.—is security. This includes compliance with layers of domestic and global requirements, physical security, and protection of the supply chain. But the most insidious risk with the potentially greatest impact is cybersecurity. The industry, both afloat and on land, is increasing the level of automation across the value chain to improve efficiencies, reduce cycle times, enhance safety, and drive down cost. The greater use of technology leads to the need for increased knowledge and specialized tools, as well as the risk of breaches and compromises. A recent example of cybercrime’s impact on global shipping is the Petya ransomware attack, whose disruptions cost over $300M to one of the world’s major shipping companies. The federal government and industry associations are working to raise awareness and offer assistance to organizations across the supply chain through focused outreach, education, and grants. And the private sector is improving cybersecurity through assessments, training, and adding specialized security tools, processes, people, and consulting support. Each organization must evaluate the amount of resources of time, people, and funding needed to appropriately address the threats. The level to which they’re able to do so will determine the impacts and stimulate innovations in technology, business processes, and approaches to security.”
Ron Iller, BBA ’93, MBA ’95
Director at Large, Fox Alumni Association
Director, Product Management-Analytics and Data Discovery, Change Healthcare
“The move to value-based care and risk-based contracting within the healthcare market has changed the game. It’s about providers and payers applying data and analytics to effectively provide better care at the lowest cost. Overall, it will be a very positive change in terms of working to improve outcomes. The focus will be on the individual and patient populations, and how their level of health impacts the cost of the system. Organizations will focus more on keeping people healthy as opposed to getting them healthy by utilizing care management programs and other forms of outreach. Change Healthcare will inspire a better healthcare system and deliver wide-range financial, operational, and clinical solutions to payers, providers, and consumers. I’m focused on helping hospitals and health systems move from fee-for-service to a value- or risk-based payment model. This involves taking a broader view of the patient or population, either in terms of payment, health status, or access to care, not only within the walls of the hospital, but extending to the broader community. We do this by providing a data platform for health systems to acquire and aggregate massive amounts of data at scale and then applying analytics in the transition to value-based care. The data we gather and what we can do with it will continue to improve with new technology, and ultimately allow us to improve the quality of care we provide even more.”
James Sanders, EMBA ’12
President-elect, Fox Alumni Association
Vice President, Commercial Lending, Customers Bank
“Fintech is providing access to capital, especially to small businesses, at a right-now rate. People are getting loans on mobile devices and it happens quick. Mobile and cloud technology, whether people use it to bid on contracts or communicate with employees, is helping small businesses evolve faster. It used to be more difficult to start a small business; now there are infinite online resources people can tap into. You can watch a YouTube video that will tell you how to do it (but, keep in mind, that won’t help you when it comes to actually executing a successful business). Small business owners are getting younger, too. There’s a lot of buzz around millennials and how they have a fresh way of thinking and handling business. With platforms like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Instagram, there are many ways to make money. My son started a tech company; he designed the app and everything. I’m very optimistic about the future of small and medium sized businesses—they’re the backbone of America. Their names aren’t plastered on the highways when you’re driving downtown and you may not see them on TV or the internet. But they’re everywhere and they’re creating and driving new industries and opportunities.”
Vast amounts of data are generated every day – about 2.5 quintillion bytes according to estimates from IBM.1 This “big data” originates from numerous sources: from individual social media posts and text messages, to corporate supply chain management activities and financial transactions. Businesses are gaining valuable insights through the analysis of all the data they can gather.
According to a CGMA survey of more than 2,000 finance professionals around the world, 87 percent of respondents said that data analytics will transform the way business is done in the next 10 years.2 The same survey, however, found that only 48 percent believe that they have the skills within their organizations to take advantage of the opportunities that data presents. This article focuses on how CPAs can leverage the power of data analytics coupled with data visualization to improve decision-making.
A major factor in gaining a competitive advantage in today’s globalized business environment is the quality of a firm’s decision-making.3 Imagine the strategic decisions that a CFO could make with the ability to predict the optimal price to charge a customer on a particular day. Suppose controllers could accurately predict the collectability of a receivable based on a customer’s credit score. Or think about the level of assurance that an auditor could obtain by analyzing entire data sets rather than samples. All of the aforementioned scenarios are possible today thanks to data analytics and visualization software, and you do not need to be trained as a data scientist or information technology (IT) professional to leverage these tools.
Data analytics is the process of examining big data for the purpose of gaining insight. There are four key characteristics of big data, often described as the four Vs: volume, variety, velocity, and veracity. Volume is the number of records in the data set. Variety refers to the types of data, and the data set must contain more than one file type to be considered big data. Velocity describes the speed with which the data is generated. Notably, a key characteristic of big data is that it constantly grows – often at a rapid pace. Veracity refers to the certainty of the data. Large amounts of data may not be useful for decision-making unless the data is clean and accurate.
In recent years, data analytics has gained immensely in popularity. Advances in technology, the decreasing cost of data storage, and innovation in the marketplace has earned the practice wide recognition from businesses. Data analytics provides managers with greater insight into business operations, creating a positive reinforcing cycle. As more meaningful insights are obtained, businesses start tracking and capturing new and additional data points to analyze. The results are more robust data sets and insight, leading to additional questions and theories, requiring more information to be captured and analyzed to answer them.
Data analytics can be applied in many disciplines, such as marketing, monitoring business transactions, or even identifying potential fraud and corruption. It opens new windows of opportunity for generating business intelligence and helping businesses run more efficiently and effectively. There is a wide variety of data analytics software tailor-made for specific industries, including health care analytics to identify waste and reduce costs at hospitals, energy analytics to predict surges in electricity usage to ensure adequate supply, and weather analytics to anticipate environmental conditions to help farmers improve crop yields.
By using data analytics, businesses can considerably reduce the time, effort, costs, and, most importantly, likelihood of errors associated with manual review. In addition, data analytics can be executed in real time on an entire population instead of relying on a sample, providing valuable insights to help businesses detect nefarious activity. For example, companies like Visa can review every single credit card transaction in real time and use rule-based monitoring systems to flag suspicious transactions. Banks can leverage real-time transaction monitoring systems to identify potential money laundering and terrorist financing.
Data analytics not only streamlines operations, it is also more useful and efficient for detecting fraud compared with traditional, manual methods. Instead of spending time performing detailed transactional testing, data analytics allows auditors to focus on performing higher-level risk analysis. Moreover, data analytics allows auditors to review the entire universe of transactions and attain greater confidence about whether or not material misstatements exist in the financial statements.
Data analytics can give auditors access to real-time information, allowing them to proactively get in front of issues and quickly devise remediation strategies. For example, during an internal audit, running data analytics on disbursements, sales activity, product returns, and expense report data can tease out information and suspicious patterns that are indicative of potentially fraudulent activities and behavior. Trend analysis of payment data can help CPAs immediately identify peaks and valleys indicating abnormal payments and any other anomalies in the data that warrant additional investigation.
One of the most critical characteristics of data analytics are traceability and repeatability. It provides a documented step-by-step audit trail of executed analyses to demonstrate how the conclusion was formulated. This can be a valuable benefit for independent parties, such as regulators, in reviewing the work of auditors. If necessary, an independent party can repeat the analyses and reproduce the same results.
For CPAs providing consulting services, data analytics can be used as a targeted exercise to run high-impact analyses to identify areas with the highest risk. This enables project teams to narrow the investigative focus and significantly save time. This is referred to as a top-down approach, where data analytics is applied to the universe of data to cull it down to a targeted population. Data analytics can also offer a holistic analysis, or viewing a problem in a broader context, when information is linked and consolidated from disparate systems and data sources. Through data aggregation and analysis techniques, information is no longer isolated, allowing data relationships and correlations to become more easily identifiable.
Insights from data analysis are not always easy to glean, and can be equally difficult to share. But the analysis can be enhanced with visualization. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a common expression that underscores the important connection between visual imagery and cognition. Humans can make sense of an image much quicker, and often more effectively, than text. In fact, the brain is capable of processing visual images in as little as 13 milliseconds.4 Another study found that presentations using visual aids are 43 percent more persuasive than unaided.5 Data visualization is simply the representation of data in the form of a picture or graph.
For decades, CPAs have created visual representations in the form of bar charts and pie graphs to communicate financial results. Today, a rapidly growing field of data visualization takes advantage of the intersection of visual imagery, big data, and advances in technology. CPAs should leverage data visualization given their important role in communicating and using data for decision-making.
Data visualization facilitates communication and understanding of complex relationships, and it can help managers identify patterns. Making sense of large, complex data sets for decision-making is one of the challenges facing business managers today.6 CPAs who can effectively communicate insights gained through data by using visualization tools stand poised to gain a competitive advantage.
Sophisticated and inexpensive software has made data visualization accessible to just about anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. But Scott Berinato, in the Harvard Business Review, warns users to avoid the temptation to simply “click and viz” without understanding the purpose and goals of visualization.7 Berinato suggests that users consider two questions: Is the information that you have conceptual or data-driven; and do you need to make a declaration or explore something? If the answer to the first question is conceptual, then you will want to visualize qualitative information. If data-driven, you are likely going to plot quantitative information.
Berinato describes four types of visual communication: idea illustration, idea generation, visual discovery, and every day “dataviz.” The goal of idea illustration is to clearly communicate complex information by relying on visual metaphors or basic geometric shapes.8 For example, consultants will often use a metaphorical tree in diagramming decisions that can be made. As another example, organizational charts and flow charts often use geometric shapes and hierarchies to communicate the relationships of reporting responsibilities and the flow of processes.
The second type of visual communication is idea generation, or creative thinking, to solve problems and capitalize on business opportunities. Idea generation is useful for various business professionals – from finance managers looking to make strategic cost reduction decisions, to independent auditors holding brainstorming meetings to discuss the risk of fraud. Incorporating visualization as part of the idea-generation process can lead to higher-quality idea conception.
Visual discovery, the third type of visual communication, can be broken down into two categories: testing hypotheses and open-ended exploration.9 In testing hypotheses, data visualizations can serve as confirmation that a suspected relationship between variables exists. For example, an auditor that suspects fraudulent revenue recognition could use data visualization to compare a population of sales invoices to shipping documents to confirm whether or not recorded sales are supported by evidence of shipping. The second category of visual discovery, open-ended exploration, is useful for spotting trends, making sense of complex data, and performing deep analysis.
Finally, Berinato describes everyday dataviz as simple line charts, pie graphs, and bar charts that can be generated in spreadsheet software such as Excel. The data for this type of visualization is simple and low volume. The goal is typically communicating a simple message for formal presentations. Examples include quarterly profitability, income versus expense, and expenditures by percentages. Despite the simplicity, it is important that CPAs are proficient at creating and communicating through everyday dataviz because poorly designed graphs can result in unnecessary questions and failure to communicate the point.
The execution of data analytics requires certain skills and software to perform. According to an EY survey, 58 percent of CFOs and finance leaders believe they need to increase their understanding of digital technologies and data analytics as a strategic priority.10 Fortunately, there is a plethora of resources and off-the-shelf software, such as SQL (Structured Query Language) and Python, to run data analytics and conduct various forms of forensic analysis. SQL and Python are programming languages used for accessing, manipulating, and analyzing data contained in databases.
The majority of CPAs are well versed in Excel, but when comparing the technical abilities of SQL and Python to Excel, the latter is less efficient and incapable of handling high-volume data analytics.
Tableau is a popular software program that is robust in graphic visualization and reporting. A free version is also available called Tableau Public. There are dozens of other data visualization programs, including Microsoft BI, Domo, and Zoho Reports, to name a few. It is important to note that software is only as good as the person using it, and it can’t replace human judgment. Software is useless without the right people asking the right questions. CPAs that are comfortable approaching unfamiliar data can use data analytics and visualization as a successful approach to problem-solving and strategic decision-making.
Becoming proficient with data analytics and visualization requires an investment in education and training. Surely that is no easy task for busy professionals, but it could be a worthwhile investment. A CGMA survey found that 85 percent of respondents believe data analysis skills will enhance career options and employability.11
So how can CPAs prepare for the opportunities and challenges related to big data? The top three learning opportunities by potential for skill development are a data analytics degree, data analytics certificate, and proficiency in data visualization software.12 In Pennsylvania, there are several colleges and universities that offer analytics degrees at the graduate level.
Another option is to take data analytics and visualization courses offered through Coursera, an educational company that specializes in massive open online courses. Coursera partners with universities to offer content for free or at a low cost. For example, Coursera offers a data visualization course developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Students gain access to course materials for free, but they have the option to purchase the course and obtain access to graded materials, receive a grade after completing assessments, and earn a certificate of completion.
Many consulting firms also provide professional workshops focused on data analytics and visualization proficiency in a variety of formats, including online, traditional live-classroom instruction, accelerated 90-minute sessions, and multiple-week classes. The PICPA, too, has numerous courses available that cover data analytics.
The complexity and volume of data will only grow in the future, and surveys of business leaders highlight the importance of being able to gain insight from such data. By applying data analytics, CPAs can make sense of large data sets in a way that was not possible until recently. CPAs can add value to their organizations by leveraging the power of data analytics and visualization to recognize trends, predict outcomes, and test hypotheses. Ultimately, these skills improve the CPA’s decision-making and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
1 “Bringing Big Data to the Enterprise,” IBM. www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/what-is-big-data.html
2 From Insight to Impact: Unlocking Opportunities in Big Data, CGMA (2013).
3 “Business Analytics and Decision Making: The Human Dimension,” CGMA (2016).
4 M. C. Potter, B. Wyble, C. E. Hagmann, and E. S. McCourt, “Detecting Meaning in RSVP at 13 ms per Picture,” Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 76(2), 270–9 (2014).
5 D. R. Vogel, G. W. Dickson, and J. A. Lehman, Persuasion and the Role of Visual Presentation Support: The UM/3M Study, 21 (June 1986).
6 Ramesh Sharda, Dursun Delen, Efraim Turban, Business Intelligence: A Managerial Perspective on Analytics (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2014).
7 S. Berinato, “Visualizations That Really Work,” Harvard Business Review, 94(6), 92–100 (2016).
10 “Do You Define Your CFO Role? Or Does It Define You? The Disruption of the CFO’s DNA,” The DNA of the CFO, EY (2016). www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-the-disruption-of-the-CFOs-DNA/$FILE/EY-the-disruption-of-the-CFOs-DNA.pdf
11 “Business Analytics and Decision Making: The Human Dimension,” CGMA (2016).
12 N. Tschakert, J. Kokina, S. Kozlowski, and M. Vasarhelyi, “The Next Frontier in Data Analytics,” Journal of Accountancy, August (2016), 58–63.
Cory Ng, CPA, DBA, CGMA, is an assistant professor of instruction and the undergraduate program director of accounting at the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cngcpa.
Mason Pan is director at Control Risks in Washington, D.C., a professional services firm that specializes in compliance, forensics, and intelligence. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The authors gratefully acknowledge Steven G. Blum, CPA, CFE, CFF, a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board, for his efforts in coordinating this article.
Reprinted with permission from the Pennsylvania CPA Journal, a publication of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Does speed matter in e-commerce? How can you eliminate the harmful effects of smoking on society? How can you predict which movies will be a hit or a bust? These were the questions posed this year by the annual Temple University QVC Analytics Challenge and its sponsors QVC, Pfizer, and NBCUniversal.
Now in its fifth year, 582 students from 10 different schools and colleges across the university participated in the competition, organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), where participants solve important industry-specific problems using data. This year’s 245 entries were judged in two categories—analytics and graphics—and winners took home $12,000 in cash prizes from the event, held Nov. 13, 2017 at Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.
The winner of the graphics category was a team consisting of Charles Attisano and Luke Harding, two seniors studying graphic and interactive design at the Tyler School of Art. They worked on the NBCUniversal challenge about movie box office forecasting and produced a short video exploring the topic, which you can watch here.
“We concluded that, on average, the highest performing movies in the box office tend to be adventure films with production budgets between $100-250 million, and release dates in May, June, or December,” said Attisano and Harding. “Providing a formula for success, on average, may help a producer choose a genre, budget, and release date. One of the most important things we learned in the process is that storytelling is an integral part of the analyzing process, and that you must communicate your analysis in a clear manner.”
The winner in the analytics category was a team of four Fox School students majoring in management information systems: Ngoc Pham, Chi Pham, Run Zhu, and Jiawei Huang. They focused on QVC’s e-commerce problem, and showed how the shopping network can ship the right products at the right time to its customers. (See the winning infographic here.)
“Working with raw data is like playing a video game,” the team explained. “You have the same goal to fulfill certain tasks, and there are tons of approaches that can be used to accomplish this goal. We provided our recommendations for highly underutilized distribution centers in terms of product categories based on their sales. By implementing our recommendations, QVC could increase its sales volume in California, Texas, and Florida within three months.”
One of the most thrilling aspects of the Analytics Challenge is that participants represent many different schools and colleges across the university. This means teams approach data, analysis, and visualization in diverse ways, and they bring unique, multi-disciplinary insights to each problem.
“It was exciting this year to see how well so many students from so many different majors instinctively understood the importance of the science of data,” said Laurel Miller, assistant professor of management information systems, IBIT director, and the co-founder of the Analytics Challenge. “It was hard to pick the winners, and all the students should feel proud of how well they did.”
Learn more about the Temple University Analytics Challenge.
Paul A. Pavlou is the Milton F. Stauffer Professor and senior associate dean at the Fox School of Business, and co-director of Temple University’s Data Science Institute. Dr. Pavlou has repeatedly been ranked number one in the world in publications by top publications in the Management Information Systems (MIS) discipline in 2010-2016, he has won several best paper awards, and his work has been cited more than 31,000 times by Google Scholar.
We caught up with Dr. Pavlou to ask what advice he has for doctoral students and aspiring researchers.
How do you determine a research question?
Observe what’s happening in the real world and try to see if you can contribute in those emerging areas. Start by seeing what is going on around the world, what companies do, what is happening in society, and trying to see what is interesting in the world and what excites industry and managers. It is about looking at the “big picture.” Often, an idea is not perfect the first time. You have to discuss it, improve it, sharpen it, and challenge it. You have to ask why people, academics, and managers would read your work—it should be an interesting problem that has broader societal implications. So you have to focus on what interests people and about what people would get excited. There’s simply no magic formula!
What happens once you have an idea you would like to research?
First, form a team that has complementary strengths. You look for researchers who either have or are doing work in a certain area. For example, if you are working with highly quantitative and empirical research, you need to find people who can deal with large scale data and sophisticated types of methodology. Sometimes you need an expert in an area who can guide the research in a certain way. You need to consider the unique advantages your project may carry. What do we have in terms of data? And keep asking, is this a practical problem that is exciting and relevant to industry and practice?
How can PhD students get feedback and develop their own points of view on research topics?
We have different forums to give feedback from different departments. There are school-wide events, such as the Young Scholars Interdisciplinary Forum and the PhD Paper Competition, where students can present their work, and we encourage them to be receptive to the feedback. There are also multiple department-specific events, and students should make an effort to present in front of the faculty. However, it is important that doctoral students have their own voice and viewpoints on their research topics. I do not want students to just go along with my feedback without questioning it. Students need to be able to defend their positions and not to agree without carefully thinking about the feedback. Students are supposed to know their topic better than anybody.
What advice do you have for current and prospective PhD students?
My advice is to do interesting research that is theoretically and methodologically strong. Try to be focused in your substantive area of expertise. It is best to be strong in one area versus being weak in two areas. Quality is more important than quantity! Also, be as rigorous as possible in terms of your methodology—and the doctoral programs are the best place to strengthen your methodological skills.
How can the Office of Research help doctoral students?
The Office of Research supports students in multiple ways. We provide services such as copyediting for manuscripts, and a workbook with tips for successful grant writing. We have small funding opportunities such as our new seed-funding program that is designed help students establish proof-of-concepts or complete a pilot study. We offer numerous databases for research, and can support travel arrangements for presenting at conferences. However, the most useful resource we have is the faculty and their time. In both the PhD program and Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, we have advisors who can guide your research and dissertation.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Cookie-baking and front yard-decorating remain staple holiday traditions around this time of year. But they’ve certainly got company.
More consumers than ever are seeking out sales during the holiday season. And two faculty members from Temple University’s Fox School of Business are available to discuss the phenomena of Black Friday (Nov. 24) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27).
Last year, more than 154 million consumers filled their online and in-person shopping carts on Black Friday, according to data from the National Retail Federation. A separate study, by Adobe, found that nearly $3.5 billion was spent on Cyber Monday 2016—making it the single-biggest online shopping day in history.
Black Friday annually causes consumers to cut short their Thanksgiving dinners to stand in line from sunset to sunrise, all in the name of large-scale shopping discounts.
Dr. Subodha Kumar is available to discuss topics pertaining to Black Friday, including consumer behaviors, retail and social media analytics, and price-matching tactics. Another area of his research explores multi-channel retailing.
“That, in particular, is the investigation of a consumer’s decision to shop at brick-and-mortar locations over online stores, or vice versa,” said Kumar, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Marketing at the Fox School. “What I have found is that in-person shopping locations can compete; they simply need to change gears. For example, brick-and-mortar stores can capitalize and create a buzz around brand-specific items that are available only in person, thus giving the consumer something that an online retailer can not.”
Cyber Monday 2016 outperformed sales for that day in 2015 by 12.1%, according to Adobe. Does that portend more sales for this year’s Cyber Monday?
Amy Lavin believes so. An assistant professor of management information systems, Lavin is available to discuss Cyber Monday-related trends like digital marketing strategies and the growing popularity of third-party cashback apps that offer real monetary returns for consumers in exchange for data related to their purchasing habits.
“In these arrangements, shoppers get the sense that they’re getting a deal, and companies like Ebates receive data about your purchase,” said Lavin, who leads Fox’s online graduate-degree program in digital marketing. “The data, for example, can be used to upsell consumers on items they may like but might not have previously considered.”
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For one couple, the next chapter of their #TempleMade love story is ready to be written.
Zahra Safa visited Main Campus recently, believing she was there to film a testimonial video for the professional development office at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. What the Fox alumna did not expect was a marriage proposal.
Fellow Fox graduate—and now fiancé—Bijan Barikbin surprised Safa at O’Connor Plaza near Founder’s Garden, dropped to one knee, and asked her to marry him.
Spoiler alert: She said yes. (But watch the video.)
— Fox School (@foxschool) October 27, 2017
This year, the Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) celebrates its 20th anniversary. A 2014 accounting alumna, Safa credits CSPD for aligning her with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she is employed as a talent acquisition senior associate.
To Safa, it seemed natural that CSPD would ask her to film a brief on-camera testimonial to be played during an upcoming anniversary event. After all, Safa met Barikbin in 2014 in CSPD’s offices, where she held a student-worker position. Barikbin had asked to borrow a stapler, and the rest is history.
“We met at Fox, and it just seemed right to get engaged on campus,” said Barikbin, who earned a BBA in Management Information Systems in 2013, and a Master of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber Security in 2014.
Temple’s motto is “Perseverance Conquers.” Ask Safa and Barikbin. They’ll tell you that love does, too.
When looking for a restaurant, bakery, plumber, or lawyer, you’re likely to visit sites like Yelp or Angie’s List to help make a choice. In fact, recent research shows that 78 percent of consumers in the United States will read online reviews prior to making a purchase or decision. Meanwhile, businesses can use these review sites to interact more directly with their customers, through tools like new owner response features.
How does this online interaction translate into real-world performance? Dr. Subodha Kumar, professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, conducted a study to find out.
Kumar examines the impact of the adoption of the business owner response feature within online review platforms in his paper, “Exit, Voice, and Response in Digital Platforms: An Empirical Investigation of Online Management Response Strategies,” which was accepted for publication in the Information Systems Research, an A-level journal.
Businesses that use the response features saw an increased number of mobile “check-ins” through sites like FourSquare and Facebook. Although the feature has been beneficial for businesses that use it, the key to consistent success resides in the need for companies to stay up-to-date with ways to connect with their consumers, both present and future.
“Overall, the new features supported through digital platforms will help businesses develop the right engagement strategy, improve consumer experience, and generate more reviews and consumer traffic, which will ultimately open more revenue generating opportunities for both the digital platforms and businesses,” said Kumar. This strategy will essentially drive higher website traffic and, if done well, enhance customer relations.
The study also found that use of the online response feature impacted the performance of nearby businesses. For example, in analyzing the performance of nearby restaurants in direct competition, businesses that directly engaged with customers online increased their number of check-ins, while businesses that did not use the features saw a decrease. This spillover effect suggests that businesses must be aware of how their neighbors and competitors are engaging with customers online in order to optimize their own digital strategies.
With the growth of mobile check-ins, social media, and online reviews, the research possibilities are evolving as well. “A future research direction is to examine which types of online management responses are more likely to attract consumers and enhance business performance,” said Kumar.
Dr. Subodha Kumar recently joined the Fox School. He will be a part of the Data Science Institute, an interdisciplinary body that connects multiple disciplinary perspectives to increase collaboration in the fields of computer science, math and statistics, and business knowledge.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
The Fox School of Business has announced Dr. David Schuff as the new chair of the Department of Management Information Systems (MIS). Since joining the faculty in 2000, Schuff has played a major role in elevating the reputation of the department through his exceptional teaching, research, and leadership.
“David’s service to Fox and the MIS department has been invaluable since his arrival nearly two decades ago,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School. “His creation of the Temple Analytics Challenge, for example, demonstrates the value he places on interdisciplinary research and experiential learning activities. I am confident the department will continue flourishing under David’s leadership.”
Schuff’s research interests include the application of information visualization to decision support systems, tools for self-service business intelligence, and the impact of user generated content on organizations and society. He has published over 40 journal articles, many in top research publications, such as Management Information Systems Quarterly, Decision Sciences, Decision Support Systems, and Information & Management.
In addition to teaching in the MIS department, Schuff has taught in the BBA, MBA, and Executive MBA programs at the Fox School’s campuses in Colombia and Japan; and he was the founding academic director of the Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program. His course topics include data analytics and information systems strategy, and he has won numerous awards, including the Musser Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the MIS department’s teaching award. (He won the latter 13 times—more times than any other faculty member.)
“Dr. Schuff’s accomplishments as a founding faculty member —and especially his commitment to teaching excellence—make him extremely well qualified to take on this role,” said Dr. Munir Mandviwalla, who preceded Schuff as MIS department chair. “I am confident he will take the department to even higher levels. It has been a privilege serving the department since its founding in 2000. I look forward to concentrating on leading the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) to further enhance industry engagement.”
Schuff’s impressive history with the Fox School gives him a unique ability to lead the MIS department into the future.
“I am proud to serve as chair of the MIS department,” said Schuff. “Together we’ve built an amazing foundation of highly ranked undergraduate and graduate programs with a vibrant faculty of excellent teachers and top-tier researchers. It will be exciting to see where the future takes us as we create new academic programs, explore new areas of boundary-spanning research, and continue to grow as a leading department.”
Learn more about the Department of Management Information Systems.
Kevin Hong, a 2014 graduate of the Management Information Systems concentration of the PhD program at the Fox School of Business and an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, recently received a $120,024 grant to research bias and health issues in online “gig economy” platforms. The grant, awarded by the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will provide Hong with funding for two years to research how online labor platforms, that connect prospective employees with employers, are shaping the economy and influencing the health of participants.
The gig economy, which encompasses various freelance and temporary employment opportunities and is worth billions of dollars, is the future of the labor market. “It is important to understand how participants in gig economy platforms make decisions and how such decisions affect their health, as these platforms promise to become the future workplace for hundreds of millions of citizens,” said Hong.
Hong’s intersectional analysis of online gig economy platforms also seeks to identify gender and racial biases in the hiring process, while analyzing the health implications of technology-based employment. For many participants in the gig economy who jump from job to job, health insurance is not an option, and part of Hong’s research grant focuses on access to health insurance and how health issues are addressed in an economy that is increasingly shifting towards short-term employment. “Understanding health-related challenges faced by these workers will help us prescribe policy suggestions for online labor platforms to inform platform design,” said Hong.
Aside from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, Hong recently received Arizona State University’s esteemed W.P. Carey Faculty Research Award, the first time a non-tenured, tenure-track faculty member has received the award.
Hong attributes his success to the intimate advisor-student relationship he had as a PhD student at Temple. Indeed, his current research is in part inspired by his research at the Fox School of Business, where he partnered with Dr. Paul Pavlou on a project, in collaboration with Freelancer.com, to publish two articles about their project in Information Systems Research.
“It is fair to say that without Paul’s effort in mentorship and guidance, none of my achievements would be possible.”Hong also notes that the academic rigor and exposure to different research methodologies during his time at Fox gave him the tools necessary to succeed. Hong’s seamless transition from PhD student to accomplished professor and researcher is a testament to his intellect and work ethic and reflects the high caliber of Fox PhD graduates.
Pennsylvania is a hotbed for technology and innovation, said Governor Tom Wolf, and is more than capable of tackling upcoming talent gaps in its workforce.
Wolf visited Temple University May 2 to discuss innovation, economic development, and technology for a Philly Tech Week event held at the Fox School of Business’ Alter Hall. He addressed Pennsylvania’s need for self-promotion, with regard to its historical reputation in innovation sectors, and acknowledged the commonwealth’s strength in producing high-caliber college graduates.
Wolf participated in the question-and-answer panel alongside Sharon Minnich, Pennsylvania Secretary of Administration; Krystal Bonner, Director of Digital Communications and Strategy; and Julie Smith, Director of Data and Digital Technology.
Calling himself Pennsylvania’s “Cheerleader-in-Chief,” Wolf also tackled subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and marketing, to statewide data access. He reflected on Pennsylvania’s need for a more-robust conversation with its residents “so I can provide them with what they want, and not what the state thinks they need.”
Wolf’s most significant contribution to Pennsylvania’s technological innovation happened in 2016, a year after the first-term governor took office. Wolf introduced an open data portal to improve the state’s transparency with its residents, and to support cross-agency collaboration. In doing so, Wolf told attendees that he had wished for greater civic engagement and bolstered economic opportunity.
The executive order, he said, has since strengthened Pennsylvania’s commitment to technological innovation and improved access to state-agency data sets. Wolf also has overseen the hire of Pennsylvania’s first open-data officer and data scientist.
“Pennsylvania should not be a shrinking violet when it comes to tech innovation. The state needs to tout its strengths,” said Wolf, making his fifth visit to Temple during his two years in office.
“We are a great place to innovate. Pennsylvania has gotten this reputation in the minds of some that we’re not an innovative place. Pennsylvania is where the action is. It has a great workforce, great institutions of higher education, and great people. Modesty is a wonderful thing, but it keeps us from having a sincere discussion about how great we really are.”
Temple University president Richard Englert and Fox School of Business dean M. Moshe Porat delivered opening remarks, welcoming Wolf and thanking him for his ongoing support of higher education.
“Innovation informs our curriculum, drives our students, and leads new program development,” said Porat. “It’s an important subject because innovation is critical to directing us as a nationally ranked provider of business education.”
“It’s very appropriate for the governor to be here,” Englert added. “You are an outstanding supporter of education and innovation. Thank you for all that you do for Temple and fellow institutions across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Temple houses undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs that are ranked top-10 nationally by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, and is home to the renowned Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, which proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit and innovation across all 17 schools and colleges.
Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, editorial director of Technical.ly, moderated the panel discussion featuring Wolf. The Management Information Systems department at Temple’s Fox School of Business sponsored the Philly Tech Week event.
Wolf closed the panel with a bit of self-deprecation. He lauded Pennsylvania for its wealth of elite higher-education institutions. Wolf called attention to what national economists have forecast as the nation’s largest talent gap, as members of the Baby Boomer generation begin to retire. He then pointed to the state’s need for stronger retention of its talented college graduates—even citing his two daughters.
“I’m trying to convince them to come back here, and I think I’m going to be successful,” Wolf said, smiling. “We’re not there yet, but we’re better in that area. We should be considered among the top places in the country, if not the world, for innovation. … Pennsylvania is a very fertile place for the kind of new ideas you’re all interested in.”
Lauren Moreno’s undergraduate education spanned fine arts, journalism, and art history. In search of a graduate program that would enhance her sales and marketing career, Moreno chose Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
In February, Moreno earned a Master of Science degree in Digital Innovation in Marketing (DIM), as part of the online program’s first graduating class.
“I wanted a graduate program that offered the business school background that I didn’t get from my undergraduate degree, while complimenting my work experience,” said the 31-year-old Moreno. “I decided the DIM program was what I was really passionate about and thought that should be where I’d put my energy.”
Moreno co-founded Team 624 Communications, a digital branding, social media, and content marketing firm for which she serves as creative director. The Digital Innovation in Marketing program, which can be completed in 16 months, enables students like Moreno to flourish in a collaborative environment that fosters an understanding of the digital marketing industry.
“It’s always changing,” said Moreno. “As professionals, we need to keep learning and challenge the practices we’re using. If you’re not paying attention to where your engagement is coming from and what type of content is working, it won’t take long before marketing efforts are diminished.”
With the help of an advisory council comprised of digital innovators who are currently in the industry, students in the DIM program are offered a curriculum that coincides with what is part of the professional landscape.
“The overall mission of our program is to create the next generation of digital marketers,” said Amy Lavin, director of the Digital Innovation in Marketing program. “In today’s digital economy, it’s not enough to just be a marketer. It’s not enough to just be technical on the marketing side. We give the students in our program the ability to understand both sides.”
The MS in Digital Innovation in Marketing is managed jointly within the Fox School’s Management Information Systems (MIS) and Marketing and Supply Chain Management departments. In January, the MIS department’s graduate programs earned a No. 16 ranking in the country from U.S. News & World Report — a feat that Lavin said validated what the program has to offer.
“You can complete any kind of Google search right now, and you know this market is hot,” said Lavin. “In this program, we’ll give students the skills they need in order to be successful. As the marketplace opens up and people realize that they need this skill set, we’re going to continue to grow our MS in Digital Innovation in Marketing.”
Currently, Moreno remains focused on utilizing the tools she has taken from the program to grow Team 624, alongside her business partner, Kaitlin Cleary.
“We want to meet our next goals by identifying potential revenue streams,” Moreno said. “We’re looking at offering trainings, workshops, online courses, and like we learned in the program, really using technology to our advantage to reach more people.”
The Master of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber-Security (MS-ITACS) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business provides students with the latest practices in the field with the help of an advisory council composed of industry leaders.
The Fox School strengthened that mission with its recent appointment of Kapish Vanvaria, management consultant with Ernst & Young LLP, as the program’s advisory council chair.
A Temple alumnus who studied Accounting and Management Information Systems at the Fox School, Vanvaria first established a commitment to the program when he became a member of the ITACS advisory council two years ago. In accepting the chair position, Vanvaria’s role will include leading the program’s strategic growth and curriculum development, and ensuring a strong student placement within the technology and cyber industry.
“I’m passionate about education. It’s one of the few things in life that has no expiration or devaluation, and therefore is one of the best self-investments,” said Vanvaria. “With a strong agenda and vision, we can make ITACS a global program that will elevate the Fox School’s brand and allow others to see Temple as a talent factory for technology and cyber security resources for many of the leading organizations of the world.”
ITACS program director David Lanter, an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School, sought an advisory council chair with significant industry background who would be able to draw from his or her personal networks and utilize corporate resources. Lanter found that in Vanvaria.
“Kapish has been an enthusiastic and valued contributor to the start of the ITACS program (in 2011) and a key player in the current successes,” said Lanter. “We are optimistic he will do as much and even more to help guide the future evolution and success of the program.”
In addition to ensuring that Fox School students have a seat at the table in the development of the program, Vanvaria said he hopes to reach out to different organizations for insight on what they are looking for in future employees.
“I want to go to these companies and governmental organizations and ask, ‘Does our curriculum match what you’re looking for, and if not, what can we do?’” he said. “We already do that within the advisory council because we have good representation of startup through Fortune 50 companies, but I know we can do more. I’m looking forward to that.”
In light of all the excitement around his appointment, Vanvaria said he wants to make one thing clear: the success of the council boils down to collaboration.
“In becoming the chair, this is not going to change our advisory council from the standpoint of it truly being a team sport,” he said. “The program’s success is dependent on all of us joining together to consistently elevate the brand. Two years from now, I want to look back and say, ‘We made a difference.’”