An university wide research collaborative is opening in Minneapolis this fall “to gain a deeper causal understanding of how consumers, firms, industries and societies are being reshaped by the social media and big-data revolution.”
Seed funded by President Kaler, The Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative (SOBACO) is placed within the U of M Carlson School of Management and will eventually be supported by a collective of interdisciplinary peers, explains Director Ravi Bapna.
“SOBACO is envisaged as a large-scale real-world laboratory where researchers design and conduct experiments and collect the data needed to obtain answers to a variety of questions, from peer influence effects, the influence of dynamic ties, pricing of digital media, the role of search costs in online relationships, to designing next-generation recommender systems and enquiries into the changing preference structures of Generation Y and Z consumers.
SOBACO researchers work at the cutting edge of econometric, computational and experimental methodologies with the hope of drawing of causal inferences or strong predictions, as the case may be, from large-scale network and non-network data. Of particular interest to SOBACO are meaningful industry partnerships that help shape our research agenda through knowledge and data sharing as well as live experimentation.”
The experimental nature of SOBACO certainly has the potential to bring together the business side of the University (CSOM) and the CS&E department in new and unique ways; depending on how serious the play becomes, MSI could be involved as well, perhaps feeding the Office for Technology Commercialization in a true skunkworks nature.
As fall sets in, the group will be rolling out a speaker series, distinct continuing education courses, and eventually perhaps an accredited curriculum. SOBACO is currently hiring for an Associate Program Director; social media ninjas need not apply.