WCAI Takes California

WCAI recaps summer events in California


This summer, members of the WCAI staff and co-director Pete Fader abandoned our Philadelphia offices and invaded California. The mission: to host five events in three days. Our expedition started with a Research Symposium at the Wharton San Francisco campus and ended in Los Angeles at the American Apparel factory.

Research Symposium June 23, 2015

WCAI started at the Wharton San Francisco campus to host a research symposium that concluded our Research Opportunity, Measuring Skill Level and Optimizing Player-Matching Algorithms in Online Games. During the symposium, researchers from around the world presented their findings to the California-based corporate partner. In this particular case, the project asked researchers to focus on determining the satisfaction of players and if they experienced more or less satisfaction when evenly matched.

The day ended with an impressive tally of insights and findings from the research teams who worked on the data for over 18 months.

WCAI staff and co-director Pete Fader abandoned our Philadelphia offices and invaded California. The mission: to host five events in three days.

Teradata Event June 24, 2015

For our next event, WCAI and Teradata co-hosted a roundtable discussion that brought more than 35 experienced marketing and analytics executives from across industries together to talk about using customer centricity to establish a competitive edge.

The event focused on how customer centricity impacts performance metrics, organizational structures, and salesforce incentives. However, the intimate setting of the Wharton San Francisco campus allowed the discussion to flow into a more authentic conversation about the challenges, successes, and other experiences surrounding the change from a product-centric business model.

Update: The event inspired Pete Fader to write a follow-up blog post offering more thoughts on the barriers to achieving Customer Centricity which is available here.

476/776 Reunion June 24, 2015

While in the Bay Area, WCAI took the opportunity to host a reunion for alumni who took Prof. Fader’s course, “Applied Probability Models in Marketing”  (if you aren’t familiar with the course, it’s earned the prestigious title, “One of the Hardest Classes at Wharton”).

The event started with a ‘state of the union’ from Professor Fader that included updates on what he’s been up to; changes in syllabus of his infamous course and the direction it’s taken since an increase in popularity of analytics at Wharton; launch of his online “Business Foundations” course on Coursera. (You can read more about it here)

Following Pete’s update, the alumni were able to reconnect and meet other 476/776ers who survived the course.

“On one hand I love being the center of attention – it’s great when so many alumni from different years want to catch up and learn what’s new with me (and Wharton overall). But as nice as that is, it’s even nicer to watch the alumni mixing it up with each other. Even if they graduated 10 years apart and never met before, they share many special experiences from their days on campus (including my course), and they find ways to make meaningful connections that are personally and professionally valuable to them. You just can’t beat that feeling!” – Pete Fader

Update: Wharton has also launched a business analytics specialization on Coursera.

But as nice as that is, it’s even nicer to watch the alumni mixing it up with each other. Even if they graduated 10 years apart and never met before, they share many special experiences from their days on campus (including my course), and they find ways to make meaningful connections that are personally and professionally valuable to them.

SoCal:

The last two stops for WCAI’s California tour were in Santa Monica and Los Angeles; the first of which was held at the General Assembly offices in Santa Monica.

The event focused on Customer Valuation (you can read more about in Prof. Fader’s book) which highlighted new ways of valuing corporations from the “bottom up” i.e., determining the forward-looking financial value of the customer base as a complementary perspective to the standard “top-down” methodologies that dominate current practice.

What was special about this event was that not only was it WCAI’s first time in SoCal, but the crowd of over 30 alumni were so engaged in the conversation — we have a feeling that these folks will be having serious customer-centric conversations with their own organizations. After the presentation, there was a networking opportunity for all of our attendees to meet with the WCAI staff and of course, fellow alumni.

Special thanks to our host, General Assembly and the Wharton SoCal Club who helped us organize WCAI’s first ever event in Southern California!

Our final event took us to a rather bohemian setting among giant looms and sewing machines in American Apparel’s enormous open floor plan factory. Pete discussed customer centricity on a broader level. He clarified common misconceptions about the definition of a customer-centric organization and the challenges of adopting such a radical shift from a product-centric business model. WCAI is interested to see how an unconventional company such as American Apparel might apply the methods of customer centricity and what the business would look like after such a change.

We had a great time out in California, but we’re glad to be back and planning a full line-up of more events for the upcoming academic year.

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