Practice Prize

A celebration of outstanding applications of business analytics with significant organisational impact.

The Centre for Business Analytics Practice Prize

Established in 2022, the Centre for Business Analytics Practice Prize recognises the best applications of advanced analytics that have resulted in significant and measurable organisational impact with a $10,000 honorarium.

Established in 2022, the Centre for Business Analytics Practice Prize recognises the best applications of advanced analytics that have resulted in significant and measurable organisational impact with a $10,000 honorarium.

The work must be analytically sound, innovative (either in terms of a new methodology or application in a new problem context), and appropriate to the problem and organization. The work is also expected to provide evidence of verifiable and quantifiable impact on the organisation’s performance. The implementation of the work should be completed within the three-year period prior to the year of the competition.

The competition welcomes successful advanced analytics applications in business, government, healthcare, education, and non-profit.

2024 Submissions

The Melbourne Business School’s – Centre for Business Analytics (CfBA) solicits entries for the 2024 Practice Prize Competition, the culmination of which will take place at the 2024 Melbourne Business Analytics Conference 15 August 2024.

 

Application Process

Initial Application

  • A 500-word abstract of the work
  • A 1000-word summary of the impact of the work on the organisation’s performance
  • Deadline: 4 April 2024
  • Please send applications through to [email protected]

Semi-finalists

  • Will be invited to submit a full report by 14 June 2024
  • The report (25-page limit, double-spaced, 12-point font, normal margins) should elaborate on the context, problem, methodology, and evidence of impact.

Finalists

  • Announced 1 July 2024
  • Academics and Practitioners will be invited to present their work during the 2024 Melbourne Business Analytics Conference (15 August 2024), which provides a forum for 1,000+ board members, senior executives, industry professionals, and academicians to discuss the transformation of decision making through data science, advanced analytics, Big Data, Machine Learning and AI. Winner to be announced after presentations
  • The winning submission will be awarded prize money of $10,000 AUD.

The Centre for Business Analytics are happy to guide potential entrants on how to develop the most compelling and rigorous entry and address any other questions you might have.

Practice Prize Winners 2023: Downer

An innovative software tool to cut planning time and carbon emissions during road maintenance has won this year's Practice Prize.

An innovative software tool to cut planning time and carbon emissions during road maintenance has won this year's Practice Prize.

Using math to optimise road maintenance across Australia may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of data analytics, but it's how a team from Downer Group won the $10,000 Practice Prize at the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference this month. Dr David Ming (pictured, left) and Elton Shi (right), both alumni of Melbourne Business School's Master of Business Analytics program, created a decision support software tool to automate and standardise road maintenance schedules using mathematical optimisation.

The software was developed for the group's DM Roads brand, which performs road maintenance works across Australia and New Zealand. "Our challenge is really to find ways to be productive and keep roads safe," says David, a Data and Analytics Manager for Transport and Infrastructure with Downer.

"We noticed that the business does that task in a very manual intensive and domain knowledge-intense way, and we saw an opportunity to modernise it and leverage the benefits of business analytics".The 'travelling salesman' problem Road maintenance comprises two main activities, which are inspecting road networks and fixing defects.

To do it successfully, three key things must be decided: what jobs should be done, who should do them and what sequence they should be done in – a variant of the "travelling salesman" problem in computer science. "The actual task of driving around and fixing roads can be quite time consuming," David says. "And if you don't get it right, you end up not being so productive. There's a lot of complications if you think about how many things could go wrong on a road – barriers or potholes, litter and all that stuff." A trained human scheduler takes two to three hours to manually set up a reasonable route, according to Elton. But thanks to the tool they developed, that time is cut down to 20 minutes – a sixfold reduction in planning time.

Although many off-the-shelf vehicle routing tools are available to tackle the problem, David and Elton say they can be costly, inflexible, include unnecessary features, or difficult to adapt for roadworks scheduling. "We have empowered our planning leads and our supervisors to spend time on more impactful work rather than spending hours every single day creating this plan," says Elton, a Strategic Improvements Analyst with Downer who also holds a degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Melbourne. "It's a daily task that we've automated into a 20-minute tool that they can use right in the background – go get a coffee, come back and the job is much easier."

The productivity growth is passed on to road users in the form of safer roads, the pair say. After the tool was implemented, preliminary analysis showed a 25 percent increase in jobs completed, a 15 percent higher crew utility and 50 percent reduction in critical jobs. As an added benefit, optimising the road maintenance schedule also led to a reduction in carbon emissions. "We're quite a heavy transportation-based company," says Elton. "We do a lot of driving with a lot of trucks and a lot of fuel. So, one major outcome is that we now do it more efficiently, which means much less CO2 emissions."

Practice Winners 2022: Suncorp

A combination of geospatial technology, AI and machine learning helped Suncorp win the first-ever Practice Prize for outstanding applications of business analytics.

A combination of geospatial technology, AI and machine learning helped Suncorp win the first-ever Practice Prize for outstanding applications of business analytics.

Suncorp’s use of geospatial data to inform the way property insurance risk is assessed and priced saw it win the inaugural Practice Prize from the Centre for Business Analytics in 2022.

But the team behind the innovation – pricing managers Emily Chong (pictured, centre left) and Steven Farrugia (far left), data scientist Jim Hoang (centre right) and executive manager Nagender Chetti – say they’re just getting started.

It's fascinating to see that Suncorp is recognised for its leadership in data and ethics and how to bring the value from data analytics to the customer,” says Jim. According to Emily, the prize has boosted the team’s morale, showcased their analytics capability with the wider community and helped to attract and retain talent.

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