CMU-A student interns help to understand the customer experience using big data

Posted 24th August 2017

The South Australian Museum (SAM) and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra are renowned arts institutions in South Australia. They are treasured by Adelaide residents and visitors providing world class exhibitions and performances.
But with public funding continually under scrutiny and the need to generate more income from ticket sales, SAM and ASO needed to gain a better understanding of their customers’ experience, their willingness to pay and the effects of price rises and free activities.
Enter Carnegie Mellon University interns Fan Yang and Yuhao He, two global Masters of Information Systems Management students studying at the Adelaide campus. The students, who both have an interest in the Arts and consumer behavior, secured 8 week internships which involved analyzing 10 years of finances, tickets sales, and customer data collected from various performances and exhibitions to developed a predictive model for future
They were able to provide valuable insights for both SAM and ASO on the customers and give predictions on future responses to ticket prices based on certain assumptions.
Katrina Nitschke who supervised Fan and Guy Ross who supervised Yuhao were extremely impressed by the work of the intern students. Both organizations embraced the internship program. As neither has the resources to employ staff or consultants to build predictive models having a CMU-A intern was very much a win-win outcome for them.
Prior to undertaking their internships, Fan and Yuhao expressed concern that there would not be enough data to give ‘true’ predictions. But in the end, it was this factor that was most useful to the intern hosts. Ironically for SAM and ASO much of the value came from being told what information gaps they had and how to collect data so as to provide better analytics in the future.
Yuhao and Fan featured in an article in The Adelaide Advertiser