Melbourne Business School News ANZ team wins Analytics Datathon 2021 with restaurant recovery idea

ANZ team wins Analytics Datathon 2021 with restaurant recovery idea

ANZ's Data Maniacs have won the annual Melbourne Business Analytics Datathon with an idea to help restaurants survive a vastly changed world.

Datathon 2021 winners

Data scientists Mohammad Esmaeilzadeh, Li Ting Chen, Ally Gu, Jeremy Forbes, Sadegh Motallebi and Marcus Zhao were ecstatic to win the $12,500 first prize but very relieved that the competition was over.

"Most of the pressure was on our presenters, but we're all feeling relieved it's over and really happy for our win," Mohammad said.

"When they were announcing the results, I think we were all equally nervous. But I'm feeling really great right now," said Mohammad's teammate, Ting.

The team looked at multiple data sources to form their solution to help restaurants survive in a post-COVID economy.

"We specifically targeted restaurants to find different data on their location, customer base and more, combining all of that to see what areas a restaurant can target to recover," Mohammad said.

"The data we used gave us a very good overview of each business and their customers, and the machine AI allowed us find opportunities in the customer segments that restaurants can target to start delivery."

The competition's data was provided by Roy Morgan, Domain, UberMedia, Taylor Fry, Tanarra Philanthropic Advisors, AURIN,, the City of Melbourne and Burning Glass Technologies. Sponsors included SAS, KPMG, Zetaris, DXC Technology and Amazon Web Services.

"I think one of the reasons why we won was the practicality of our idea and the physicality of our solution," Ting said.

"All of us were impacted by COVID, and we could very well see how COVID has impacted restaurants and eateries, in particular.

"In the past, we would go out to dine, whereas, after COVID, most of us are eating at home. So, being able to come up with a solution that addressed that directly benefits the lives of everyone affected by COVID."

For a share of the $25,000 prize pool, the Datathon challenged corporate and student teams to use analytics to generate valuable and actionable insights and communicate to the judges how their insights would influence decision-making and create value.

The judges included Lynette Clunies-Ross, VP and Managing Director at SAS, Paul Cikala, Chief Revenue Officer at Zetaris, Amanda Good, Director at KPMG, Prof. Ujwal Kayande, Director of the Centre for Business Analytics, and Wendy Stops, Non-Executive Director at Coles Group and Chair of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Board.

Runner-up team Four2 took out the $5,000 second-place prize, while student team, UNSW's Data Squad, came third but won the competition’s student division.

"It's fantastic. We're really really happy with the result. It took a lot of work to make the solution and everyone is just really happy" said Jake Antmann from UNSW's Data Squad.

"We've been working non-stop for the last 36 hours, and now we can get back to basics, like study," said Sibo Zhang, Jake's teammate.

Data Squad's winning idea looked at minimising the financial strain that small, ongoing COVID outbreaks have on a community.

"We're good at handling reducing COVID spread, but not at minimising the financial strain that's put on a community," Jake said.

"Our model predicts, based on government policies, the financial-strain index, COVID-case and Google-movement data, the financial strain of your policy choice, allowing a balance between a COVID response and a financial-strain response."

The Datathon ran from 27-28 February with the finals held at Melbourne Business School on 18 March, the final day of the 2021 Melbourne Business Analytics Conference.

More than 1000 people attended this year’s conference to hear from industry data leaders, including the world's top social-media expert, MIT's Professor Sinan Aral, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Wharton’s Professor Raghu Iyengar, Royal Melbourne Hospital's Dr Kudzai Kanhutu and RBA Governor Dr Philip Lowe, among others.

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