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Smith Marketing Faculty-Staff Help Guide INFORMS Conference

Dec 09, 2012
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The Department of Marketing at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business recently helped unite top academics and practitionersINFORMSBall worldwide to bolster the marketing profession.

The department co-hosted the Dec. 9-10 "New Developments in the Practice of Marketing Science 2011-2012: Impact and Implementation” with the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in its 50th year. The conference took place at the Smith School's Washington, D.C., campus located at Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

P.K. Kannan, Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Marketing Science and marketing department chair, was pleased with the success of the event. “The by-invitation-only attendees, consisting of top academics and practitioners from the U.S., Europe and Australia, were very impressed by the event, by the quality of the program, by our D.C. campus, and by the top-notch logistics we had for the conference,” he said. “This event will further raise the profile of our school in key influencer groups.”

Michel Wedel, PepsiCo Professor of Consumer Science and co-chair of the conference, described the event as a "serious exercise" to address the perceptionINFORMSKannan that academicians sometimes go off on their own path in some way. "The question then, is: 'Is what we're doing still relevant to business practice'?" Wedel said. "In many cases it will be. So bringing together those who practice in the field and academics puts this to the test."

Executives from the likes of In4Mation Insights, the Hershey Company, lpsos, and Thinkvine attended the conference to participate in panel discussions and listen to academic presentations.

Among the presenters, the Smith School's Jie Zhang, associate professor of marketing and the Harvey Sanders Fellow of Retail Management, spoke on "The Impact of an Item-Based Loyalty Program" as part of a second-day session on customer management.

Michael Ball, Smith School Associate Dean for Faculty and Research and Dean's Chair in Management Science, gave a keynote speech titled "Perspectives on Business Analytics."INFORMSWedel He discussed various intellectual components of business analytics and provided a historical perspective on the concept. He also described the role business schools can play in its development and outlined relevant Smith School initiatives, including MBA program developments, the school's evolving strategic relationship with IBM and a planned MS program in Marketing Analytics.

Lilien Practice Prize Competition

Kannan served as a judge for a conference centerpiece – the prestigious Gary Lilien Practice Prize Competition for outstanding implementation of marketing science concepts and methods. The winning entry, "Creating a Measurable Social Media Marketing Strategy: Increasing the Value and ROI of Intangibles and Tangibles for Hokey Pokey," focused on harnessing social media's power for marketing and increasing sales for a small scale ice-cream retail chain, Hokey Pokey, in India.

This study, by V. Kumar and Vikram Bhaskaran (both Georgia State University), Rohan Mirchandani (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), and Milap Shah (Hokey Pokey co-founder), initially focused on developing customer/individual level metrics to measure and track the success of a social media campaign. Secondly, it showed how to predict those metrics for a group of customers in social media so that the chain can identify a priori which individuals would be influential in generating the maximum buzz and sales for the firm’s products. The study then selected those individuals with a predicted maximum social media influence to maximize its sales growth via the social media campaign. Kannan, a 2007 winner in the same competition, said the implementation shows such campaigns can be executed with a limited marketing budget. “The study epitomizes the very essence of the competition by applying an innovative and sophisticated marketing science modeling approach to a challenging business problem with measurable success,” he said.

The project was part of a wider study by competition namesake, Lilien, of all 22 of the entries, “Effective Marketing Science Applications: Insights from ISMS-MSI Practice Prize Finalist Papers and Projects” in the Marketing Science Institute Working Paper Series 2011. Lilien and his co-authors summarize “major takeaways” from the analysis, including “great upside potential in applying marketing science models and methods to business problems,” and “usually three sets of actors – practitioners, academics, and consultants/intermediaries – are involved in successful applications.”

Lilien, Distinguished Research Professor of Management Science at Penn State University and co-founder and Research Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets, told the conference participants that marketing is overcoming a “Rodney Dangerfield of management” status among executives who have traditionally believed analytics as “an expense” instead of “an investment.”

Lilien said a firm’s performance has a strong link to its use of marketing analytics. “You need management to buy in and strong IT support,” he said. “Analytics works, but management needs to learn how to utilize the data.”

Wedel said the conference itself directly addresses Lilien’s concerns by providing a means and incentive for practitioners and academics to collaborate. “The participation level, between 100 and 150, is ideal for providing interaction opportunity around the presentations,” he said. “We don't have a final answer, but every conference like this pushes us in the right direction.”

Greg Muraski, Office of Marketing Communications

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.