BYU’s Community team presents on the main stage at the new Adobe Lehi campus

Last month, Adobe held the finale for its 11th Adobe Digital Analytics Competition (ADAC) at its new Lehi campus. This unique competition gives college students an opportunity to test drive Adobe’s industry-leading digital analytics tools and to analyze real data from a well-known company. Last year, Adobe partnered with, and this year it partnered with Comcast for the competition. The Philadelphia-based media giant asked the student teams to analyze its site and provide recommendations to its analytics team.

In 2012, the number of universities competing in the ADAC expanded to twelve schools: BYU, Chicago, Indiana, Missouri, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, Texas-Austin, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Utah, and Utah Valley. For the first time, student teams were given access to Adobe Discover in addition to Adobe SiteCatalyst. Even though there was only enough time to train the students on SiteCatalyst, many of the top teams dived into Discover to analyze key Xfinity segments. Participation also grew this year to more than 350 students (60% growth) and 150 teams (78% growth). In the competition finale on Friday, Nov. 16th, six teams from BYU (two), UC-Berkeley, NYU, Missouri, and Texas battled it out for the $15,000 grand prize ($27K in total prizes).

Erin West of Mizzou shares analysis findings and recommendations with Comcast team

After a tough fight in the finale, three MBA students from BYU—Jared Ferguson, Tyler Ruby, and Ryan Terry—captured the top prize. BYU has competed in the ADAC since 2005, and it was able to return to the top of the podium in 2012. In its first year in the competition, a team from the UC-Berkeley Haas Business School (Dino Boukouris, Alex Leung, and Tamara Patterson) left a strong impression when it captured second place. For the third straight year a team from NYU participated in the ADAC finale, and the NYU team of Agata Dec, Rodrigo Domingues, and Jean-Paul Behrens placed third in the competition. The University of Missouri continued its winning ways for the second year in a row by capturing the fourth-place position (Chris Knutson, Brian Reitz, and Erin West).

David McBride and Dave Hodgman from Comcast joined Michael Halbrook and me from Adobe as judges for the finale. McBride, who is the Director of Analytics at Comcast, shared the following thoughts on the ADAC:

I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the findings provided by the finalist teams. Every presentation contained several excellent recommendations. We are already working on some of these ideas, but there were many new suggestions shared that we will consider for implementation.

Digital analytics practitioners often talk about how hard it is to find qualified analysts. If this year’s ADAC is any indication, help is on the way as these students and others seek internships and full-time employment. I am glad to see Adobe cultivating this talent on a national scale.

Audience mesmerized by insights shared during the competition

I’d like to congratulate the winners and all of the teams that participated in this unique, analytics-focused event. We look forward to expanding the college and student participation in the ADAC next year. If your company or school would like to participate in 2013, please reach out to me directly at @analyticshero on Twitter.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the Adobe Training Services team (Mark Willder, Tiffany Powell, Amberly Kingsford), and Beckie Pouch for helping to organize and host the ADAC event. This event wouldn’t have been a success without their help and support. I look forward to next year’s competition and meeting another generation of future digital analysts.