Melbourne Business School News Meet the 2022 finalists of the Centre for Business Analytics Practice Prize

Meet the 2022 finalists of the Centre for Business Analytics Practice Prize

Teams from NAB, Suncorp, Taylor Fry and the University of Sydney will compete for $10,000 in our inaugural Practice Prize.

Centre for Business analytics practice prize

This year's Melbourne Business Analytics Conference will also mark the first awarding of the Practice Prize, a new event to recognise outstanding applications of business analytics with significant organisational impact.

Ahead of the conference on 11 October, four finalists were selected from a competitive round of applications from all over the globe, with candidates required to show how they have used business analytics to generate significant organisational impact.  

Centre for Business Analytics Director, Professor Yalçın Akçay, said the top four finalists represented some of the best examples of cutting-edge practical applications of analytics in the world.

"I'm looking forward to hearing these amazing leaders in their field present their case studies at the conference and hear how they have transformed their organisations through analytics," he said. 

The finalists will present to an expert panel consisting of industry leaders and prominent analytics experts, with the winner of the $10,000 prize announced at the end of the session. 

And the finalists are...


Submission: "Proactive Analytics: Fast Find and Fix based Customer Resolution"

Following the 2018 Royal Commission into Banking Misconduct, customer remediation was high on the agenda for all financial institutions including NAB.  

To address that issue, NAB created an enterprise function to rectify any errors that might have been made in the past more effectively.   

This included using data and analytics to identify impacted customers and solve root causes that might have caused negative impacts. 

In order to proactively address remediation matters, a three tier advanced analytics strategy was designed and implemented to automate risk triage, profile risks on enterprise-level, and detect customer detriment in near real-time, which the NAB team will present to judges at the conference.

NAB Manager of Data Science, Amir Neshastehriz says they are incredibly excited to be a finalist amongst the many entries submitted from across the world.

"We are grateful for the recognition, especially given the high calibre of the judges on the panel," he says.

"We are now looking forward to sharing our work with the wider analytics community through the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference."


Submission: "Geospatial technology introduced in industry first"

Over recent years, Suncorp has been focused on leveraging advanced analytics to improve and solve business problems.  

This project saw the company transform insurance operations by challenging the status quo and questioning if there was a different way to gather data which resulted in fewer questions for customers to answer.  

"It was an industry-first," said Emily Chong, Pricing Manager at Suncorp.  

"We used geospatial intelligence to inform our risk selection and pricing, removing the need for customers to answer 50 per cent of property questions on their application."

The technology was able to identify property building attributes from aerial images of more than 9 million Australian homes, turning these images into usable data. 

"The new capability brings a better, simpler customer purchasing experience, and puts Suncorp at the leading edge when it comes to the innovative use of new technology for the benefit of our customers," Ms Chong said. 

"Analytics when used as a strategic advantage across all areas of business operations, could deliver profitable financial outcomes for the business, delight our customers by delivering on promises and allow us to keep ahead of a competitive market."

Taylor Fry

Submission: "Measurement and experimentation for Qantas's marketing Next Best Action engine"

For its submission, analytics and actuarial consulting firm Taylor Fry focused on its work with Qantas to develop a framework to measure the effectiveness of the airline's Next Best Action direct marketing engine.

Qantas's large customer base and broad range of product offerings provides its loyalty team with a unique opportunity to drive value through direct marketing activities.  

To keep pace with changing customer preferences and expanding product offerings, Qantas established a program to develop a Next Best Action direct marketing engine, built on machine learning foundations and aligned with data privacy best practice.  

Taylor Fry worked closely with Qantas to co-develop a framework and tools to rigorously measure performance of the Next Best Action system, and assess opportunities for improvement.

This included measuring the level of customer engagement, the performance of marketing messages and developing a framework for evaluating potential system features or changes. 

"We believe appropriate and robust measurement is vital for generating value from analytics," said Jonathan Cohen, Principal at Taylor Fry.

"Some of the tools, platforms and functionality we've developed in solving AI and machine learning measurement challenges have broad application and it’s great to know it could be useful more widely to improve business outcomes."

University of Sydney

Submission: "A Machine Learning Attack on Illegal Trading"

For their submission, a team from the University of Sydney documented how they developed a machine learning model to detect illegal trading that outperformed benchmark approaches.

Dr Robert James, a post-doctoral Research Fellow in Business Analytics at the University of Sydney, said their research was a good candidate for the prize because it involved finding a data-driven solution to a difficult business problem faced by financial institutions worldwide. 

"Analytics is essential for developing and maintaining good business operations, especially in today's business environment where large volumes of data are generated at a high frequency," he said.

In order to detect instances of suspected illegal trading, existing market surveillance systems rely upon alert logic which has been trained and defined by human intervention. The human element means these systems suffer, with gaps in the monitoring and systems often reporting false breaches. 

To address this issue, the team at University of Sydney including Robert James, Artem Prokhorov and Henry Leung  developed a novel financial market surveillance model that was based upon time series anomaly detection techniques. 

"Time series anomaly detection techniques seek to identify patterns that differ from normal in a sequence of data that is collected across time," Dr James said.

"A classic example might be identifying abnormal heartbeat signatures from a collection of electrocardiogram time series."

They evaluated their system against 14 real world cases of suspected illegal trading in Asian equity markets and found that their model outperformed all benchmark approaches.  

Their work was used as proof of concept by a global investment firm to demonstrate the value in machine learning and business analytics when it comes to market surveillance.  

Stating their cases  

The four finalists will now present their case studies in a special session at the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference on Tuesday, 11 October.  

The expert judging panel will consist of:  

Jane Livesey, CEO, Cognizant Australia 
Christelle Young, Chief Strategy & Analytics Officer, L'Oréal ANZ
Dan Adelman, Charles I. Clough, Jr. Professor of Operations Management, University of Chicago Booth School of Business 
Michael Smith, Chair of Management (Econometrics), Melbourne Business School 
Steve Tadelis, Professor of Economics and Sarin Chair in Strategy and Leadership, Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley 
Christopher S. Tang, UCLA Distinguished Professor and Edward W. Carter Chair in Business Administration, UCLA Center for Global Management 

Dr Cohen from Taylor Fry said it would be an honour to receive recognition from a panel of such highly-experienced experts.

"Being acknowledged in this way also places a focus on the importance of measurement and experimentation in business, which can only be a good thing!"

To attend the inaugural Practice Prize, register for the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference on 11 October.

For more analytics information and research, visit our Centre for Business Analytics page. 

To find out more about studying at Melbourne Business School, visit our Degree Programs and Short Courses pages, or learn about our range of services For Organisations.


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