Business Intelligence and Cooperation with Universities: Does it work?

August 29, 2014 by
Business Intelligence and Cooperation with Universities: Does it work?

We’ve always felt that it is necessary to stay connected with the academic environment to keep our heads fresh and avoid losing ourselves in the business intelligence world.

Business Intelligence and Cooperation with Universities: Does it work?

We’ve always felt that it is necessary to stay connected with the academic environment to keep our heads fresh and avoid losing ourselves in the business intelligence world.

The Manta Tools team is proud of its cooperation with the Czech Technical University. Each country has its own set of rules and options for this kind of cooperation, but it is possible to sum up a few general points.

So, how can your company benefit from holding hands with universities?

Solve Theoretical Problems

Your teams are well-oiled machines built to deliver unique solutions to your customers’ problems. You have budgets, man-hours and carefully tracked efficiency with the best people you could get your hands on. There’s usually a little room for dreaming, though. And universities were made to push the boundaries of human knowledge.

When we started our cooperation with FIT CTU, we had identified four theoretical problems. We were sure that their solutions would help our project grow. We would have been able to finish our products and deliver them to customers anyway, but there’s always room for improvement. Each problem was analyzed by one team, which consisted of one Manta Tools developer and a few researchers and students. The Manta Tools team provided the necessary business experience, and the researchers contributed with deep theoretical insight unavailable to us.

Create Your Own Research

It’s awesome to use results of current research in your production process, but there’s another, even better option. During development, you’ll meet a lot of problems solvable with best practices, but you’ll know it could be solved systematically, once and for all. And if you are able to find the right guy or gal who is already digging into that, you will have already won. One of our joint teams, the “internal data representation team,” did exactly that.

When we were developing Manta Checker, we knew what rules our customers wanted to enforce, and those were easily deployed in Checker’s interface. However, about 10% of the rules still needed to be hard-coded. So we asked if it would be possible to invent a universal language, which would allow our users to enforce any policy via interface. It took a couple months of research and close cooperation with FIT CTU, but it worked to benefit all parties. We have an overall solution for every possibility, and they successfully published papers about abstract syntax trees.

Get Some Fresh Meat

Besides its actual influence on production, company/university cooperation offers other benefits. Your ever-hungry HR department can use your experience with students to headhunt them later on. Just think about it: you already know if they know what they are doing (or not); you know they are able to meet deadlines (or not); they have already met some of your employees (= their future supervisors); and they surely know which coffeemaker makes the best espresso in the whole building. So, they are all set to go.

In conclusion, there’s a lot of room for improvement, even if you are already cooperating with universities to both parties’ benefit. Not only can you use products of actual research, but you can also create your own to get complex solutions and contribute to science.

Do you have a different opinion on university-business cooperation? Feel free to share your experiences with us via Twitter or email. The research project mentioned in this article was made in cooperation with Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.

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