UVA McIntire Spring Symposium Recap

I had a fantastic time last week participating in UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce Spring Symposium, Analytics: From Revolution to Evolution. I was honored to be included as a member of the panel accompanying the keynote speaker, Tom Davenport. The other members of the panel included incredible movers and shakers in the world of analytics:

  • Laura Fuentes (Engineering ’97), Senior Vice President, Total Rewards and People Analytics, Hilton Worldwide
  • Marc Lefar (McIntire ’85), President and Chief Executive, RentPath
  • Nancy Smith, President and CEO, Analytic Partners
  • Cliff Young, President, Ipsos Public Affairs N.A.

onlyhumansneedapplyTom’s keynote was fascinating and took us through the recent changes in analytics as we face more complex amounts of data to process and we can rely more heavily on machines to do the analysis. It is inevitable that more and more of the work we do will be done by computers. The real question is how we adapt to this evolution and find alternatives or ways to reinvent our human roles. Tom recommend a series of options so that we can augment the automation (these are quoted directly from his presentation):


  • “Step in—humans master the details of the system, know its strengths and weaknesses, and when it needs to be modified”
  • “Step up—humans take a big-picture view of computer-driven tasks and decide whether to automate new domains”
  • “Step aside—humans focus on areas they do better than computers, at least for now”
  • “Step narrowly—humans focus on knowledge domains that are too narrow to be worth automating”
  • “Step forward—humans build the automated systems”

There was quite a funny moment during the panel discussion when I exclaimed “but I don’t want to be replaced! I think I am really important.” Tom pointed out that a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center said that this is a common sentiment.

“Even as many Americans expect that machines will take over a great deal of human employment, an even larger share (80%) expect that their own jobs or professions will remain largely unchanged and exist in their current forms 50 years from now,” the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, said in a new report on public expectations for workforce automation.

Over the past year we have seen more solutions in the marketplace that claim to automate influencer marketing. We have played around with a few of these tools with limited success. We don’t see an end-to-end solution that can create a campaign strategy for a brand, match with the appropriate influencers, create a contract, and measure campaign performance. There are however quite a few tools that enable us to provide amazing insights, data analysis and reporting for our campaigns. I look forward to participating in the evolution of this industry.

I was delighted to have a huge and loving cheering squad in the audience. Thank you to Tracey, my parents Tom & Penny Gilbert, and my dear UVA friends Julie Jenkins, Melissa Jiulianti, Hope Krutz, and Julie Briski and her wife Louise Gresham for coming to Charlottesville. Here are some fun moments from our MtoM Snapchat story.



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