Meet the new Director of our Centre for Business Analytics
Yalçın Akçay has been appointed as the next Director of the Centre for Business Analytics at Melbourne Business School.
Prof Akçay earned his dual-title PhD from the Pennsylvania State University and served at Koç University in Istanbul before joining Melbourne Business School as a Professor of Operations Management in 2017.
He will now take over leadership of the Centre for Business Analytics after the departure of founding director Ujwal Kayande, who was appointed Dean of Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Prof Akçay paid tribute to the work of Prof Kayande in establishing the Centre and its strong connection to industry, with corporate partners including SAS, Deloitte, EY, L'Oreal Australia, Downer, Bupa and the Victorian Government.
"In its first seven years, with Professor Ujwal Kayande's vision and leadership, the Centre has established excellent connections with Australian businesses and instituted an outstanding Industry Advisory Board comprised of some of Australia's finest analytics professionals and business leaders," Prof Akçay said.
"The Centre has also facilitated invaluable internship experiences for students in the Master of Business Analytics program hosted by its corporate member organisations, and made a significant impact on many Australian businesses through its Data for Decision Makers course for organisations."
One of Prof Akçay's top priorities will be to strengthen the Centre's corporate partnerships while also leveraging the potential benefits of academic research for business applications.
"I am particularly passionate about research," he said. "The Centre's Academic Fellows are among the most research-active group not only at Melbourne Business School, but in Australia.
"We have prolific researchers in statistics, econometrics, marketing, operations and finance who consistently publish in the top-tier, flagship journals of their fields. I will be making it a priority to increase awareness of this outstanding expertise among Australian business leaders."
New prize for analytics practitioners
Prof Akçay has also been a driving force behind the Centre's new Practice Prize launched to recognise outstanding applications of business analytics with significant organisational impact, which carries a $10,000 prize.
"We are in the call for submissions stage of the inaugural prize, which is open globally, and we expect to see submissions from business, government, healthcare, education and non-profit organisations around the world," Prof Akçay said.
"The work we're looking for 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 organisation."
Prof Akçay said initiatives like the Practice Prize were designed to help organisations move towards advanced uses of analytics that improve performance and push the boundaries of what is possible.
"There is more to business analytics than simply using dashboards or trying to generate insights by looking at an 80-page report full of numbers," he said.
"Using data for decision-making requires a deep understanding of the context, the ability to distinguish between correlation and causation, and being able to process multiple streams of data simultaneously – which humans don't have the cognitive capacity to do.
"Analytics can help executives realise their business goals if they build predictive models for forecasting and estimation, and prescriptive models for superior business performance.
"This is far beyond 'data analysis'. It is 'problem solution' that calls for a unique skill set, with simultaneous expertise in business, mathematics and technology – which we call being 'trilingual'."