Melbourne Business School News Inside the 2024 Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

Inside the 2024 Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

Global experts will join some of Australia's biggest CEOs to explore how AI is redefining the future of business this August.

Stela Solar Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

With guest speakers from Amazon Web Services, Coles, REA Group and the Wharton School, this year's Melbourne Business Analytics Conference will bring the best of business research and practice together to discuss the theme of "redefining the future of business with AI".

Hosted by the Centre for Business Analytics, the conference will be held at The Grand Hyatt Melbourne on Thursday, 15 August 2024.

Attendees will explore the integration of artificial intelligence into core business processes, learning from industry leaders about the transition from AI as a standalone tool to a fundamental, integrated business capability.

Professor Yalçin Akçay, Director of the Centre for Business Analytics, said the theme was designed to build on last year's conference, which equipped leaders with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the complexities of data and digital transformation in the age of AI and automation.

"AI has evolved from a collection of bespoke tools to a fundamental ingredient of business strategy, driving innovation, efficiency, and competitive advantage," he said.

"As such, many businesses find themselves at a crossroads, where they have adopted AI and are now uncertain of the next steps in their strategic evolution.

"We want to equip Australian organisations with the knowledge they need to move beyond the implementation stage and begin integrating AI capabilities into their business models and across entire business operations.

"It's critical that Australian businesses embrace the transformative opportunities that AI presents, otherwise we risk being left behind."

Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

Thursday 15 August 2024 | The Grand Hyatt Melbourne
Redefining the Future of Business with AI

The conference will offer insights into the strategic embedding of AI technologies for enhanced decision-making, efficiency and innovation, highlighting the ethical considerations and transformative potential of AI in shaping future business landscapes.

"This is a particularly special event this year, as we are celebrating 10 years of the Centre for Business Analytics," Professor Akçay said.

"We have spent a decade helping Australian businesses to gain a distinctive competitive advantage through harnessing the insights of business, mathematics and technology. The integration of AI is simply the newest opportunity we want to help companies embrace."

How AI is levelling the playing field

Professor Gad Allon from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will speak at this year's conference on topics including how AI has broken down the barriers to entry to analytics and data.

Prof Gad Allon"The barrier to entry has really come down because large language models are now available to people with much more limited skills through platforms like OpenAI," he said.

"In the past, you needed a ton of data to actually build good models and this is no longer the case.

"Now, you can piece together three to four different things through OpenAI to develop a data solution that would have taken 10 people two years to develop."

Professor Allon said that as well as levelling the playing field, AI also raised new risks for businesses to consider.

"Firstly, there are major privacy issues," he said.

"There's also concerns around GenAI hallucinations. This is the notion that the more we begin to rely on fake articles, and fake research being written by generative AI, the more they will simply become part of our reality.

"It's the same way that now, if you don’t get served on the first page of Google, you basically don't exist. And unlike Google which serves you 10 answers, Open AI just serves you one, so if you don't ask any follow up questions you will just accept its answer as truth."  

Quality and quantity of data still important

Professor Maxime Cohen from the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University, who is also booked to speak at this year's conference, said that while AI did allow people to create models with less data, there was still an advantage to having more.

"The more data you have, the better AI can be, and it's not only the quantity of data you should consider, but also the quality," he said.

Prof Maxime Cohen

"Firstly, it enables companies to predict better. If you have a lot of data, if you have a lot of AI capabilities, you can potentially preempt and predict those types of Black Swan events – like the pandemic – before they occur. You can be better prepared."

Professor Cohen said the quality and quantity of data made a difference to personalisation services in particular.

"If you have a lot of data about a lot of different individuals, you can personalise

 the recommendations, the decisions and the actions at the customer or the individual level," he said.

"A good example is in healthcare, where we see that AI can really enhance the patient experience. We can really understand each patient based on their medical history."

The ability of AI to enhance productivity is another opportunity Professor Cohen believes organisations should be looking to embrace, especially where it can also lead to positive social outcomes.

"If we look at healthcare again, if you use AI properly, you can automate all the administrative tasks that are very low value and therefore allow physicians to spend most of their time in very high value tasks, such as doing better diagnostics and seeing more patients – and in doing so, increase access to healthcare."

Hear from Australia's top executives

Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to attend sessions led by industry experts on a range of topics including building AI-enabled organisations, ethical considerations of AI in business and how to find the right technologies and partners for your company.

Senior business leaders confirmed to speak at this year's conference so far include:

"The opportunity to hear first-hand from leading Australian business people has always been a highlight of the conference," said Anita Arbogast, Executive Director of the Centre for Business Analytics.

"Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with leaders from top Australian organisations and hear case studies that exemplify the practical application of AI and AI-integrated business strategies.

"The knowledge exchange that takes place in these sessions is invaluable."

Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

Thursday 15 August 2024 | The Grand Hyatt Melbourne
Redefining the Future of Business with AI

Annual Practice Prize competition

The conference will also feature the announcement of the third Practice Prize winner. The annual competition was established to celebrate outstanding applications of business analytics with significant organisational impact, with the winning team taking home $10,000.

Last year, a team from Downer was awarded the top honour for creating an innovative software tool that cuts planning time and carbon emissions during road maintenance.

At this year's conference, Practice Prize finalists will present their findings and field questions from the audience.

"Having the finalists present at the conference gives them the opportunity to share with a wider audience their effective solutions, methodologies and initiatives that can potentially have broader applications," Professor Akçay said.

This year's Practice Prize judging panel will include:

To learn more and book tickets, visit the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference page.

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.

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