BYU students place third in Adobe analytics challenge

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BYU students Kevin Swan, Samuel Fisher and Nate Johnson accept the prize for placing third in the 2017 Adobe Analytics Challenge. The competitors used Adobe analytics to provide a marketing strategy to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. (Savannah Hopkinson)

BYU students Samuel Fisher, Kevin Swan and Nate Johnson placed third and were awarded $6,000 in the 2017 Adobe Analytics Challenge.

Each group was given two weeks to use Adobe analytics to analyze Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, or MGM, and give suggestions about how they could improve their website and marketing strategy for their hotels and other business holdings in Las Vegas. After two weeks the groups submitted a slide presentation.

If picked as a semi finalist, the teams were given the chance to present their project by telephone. The six teams chosen as finalists presented to judges at the Adobe building in Lehi on Nov. 3.

BYU student Samuel Fisher presents his suggestions for MGM after using Adobe Analytics. Fisher and his team won third place in the 2017 Adobe Analytics challenge. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Each year one of Adobe’s corporate customers is selected to be analyzed by students. Past companies have included Sony Playstation, Comcast and Overstock. This year the company was MGM.

The challenge began in 2005 by Omniture, a web analytics company bought by Adobe in 2009. Originally the competition was available only to BYU students, but it is currently available to colleges across the United States.

Each of the finalists had unique ideas for how MGM could make improvements to their business strategy based on the statistics and information they found through the Adobe software.

The first place team from the University of Michigan received a $35,000 prize. Teams from BYU Idaho and the University of Utah were also among the six finalists in the competition.

Johnson said some of the hardest parts of the competition were learning how to use Adobe analytics in the two weeks they had to plan their presentation, and trying to use the large amount of data to tell a story.

“We were getting raw, live data constantly. It wasn’t a normal case,” Fisher said. “It was just, ‘here is lots of data and lots of tools to analyze it, good luck.’”

The Adobe Analytics Challenge is also a opportunity to get experience and to have something to add to a resume. All three members of the BYU team are in the BYU Master’s of Business Association program. Swan and Johnson are studying marketing and Fisher is studying supply chain. They said they hope to use this opportunity in the future.

Nate Johnson was part of the BYU group that won third place in the Adobe Analytics Challenge this year. The team was awarded $6,000. (Savannah Hopkinson)

“My goal is to get a position in marketing, towards the analytics side and customer insights, find out why customers are doing what they’re doing,” Swan said.

He said this challenge helped him get experience with what he wants to do in the future.

Johnson said this competition has opened up doors for many BYU students in the past and it has helped them get in contact with customers.

At the event, two Adobe employees talked about their experience in the Adobe Analytics Challenge when they were in college, and how that experience helped them to get their current jobs at Adobe.

Fisher has an interview this next week about an analytics program, and said he is going to use this experience to help him.

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