Sometimes, exercises in classes can feel purposeless. You work hard to create something with no value for the community that students have done in years past. Obviously the students learn something they then use later, but shouldn’t there be an alternative?
How Daniels tackles this problem is exactly what separates this college from a other business schools. At the very start of the academic year, 78 students from a variety of Daniels College of Business graduate programs came together to work on a real world problem for the digital cable and high speed internet provider, , Comcast.
Comcast currently faces the challenge of keeping pace in innovation with the rapid changes that exist in technology today. In order to achieve this goal, Comcast gathered our students and probed them with this challenge: How should Comcast think about leveraging artificial intelligence technologies to improve user engagement?
Pretty cool right? The students involved agreed as well.
Prior to their meeting, Comcast provided pre-readings to help create a foundation for the ideation process. At the very start of the meeting, hosted at the Commons of Champa in downtown Denver, Comcast also presented some more information about the problem and allowed students to ask questions. Next, professor Aimee Hamilton discussed a framework for design thinking, a concept familiar with many undergraduate Daniels students. Lastly, the students were put to work and separated by 4 prompts with different groups tackling each question. The sound of scribbling on sticky notes and chatter from the students filled the room. This is the third year that Comcast has collaborated with Daniels students to help innovation. Ideas from the past had already made an impact within Comcast and you could feel the excitement in the room from students wondering if they might be able to make real life influence as well.
Will Anderson, a first-year Denver MBA student, was drawn to Daniels by its pioneering approach to offer classes for integrated marketing communications. Prior to coming to Daniels, Anderson was a media studio worker involved in roles such as associate producer and product video director for REI. Like many of the other students involved, Anderson thought the Comcast ideation meeting was a great way to kick off the year for Daniels.
“It really provided a great example for how the rest of the year will unfold.” One of the first things that Will brought to my attention was the unique perspective that Daniels’ students were bringing to Comcast. With creating new and innovative ideas, Anderson found it beneficial for Comcast to have a different perspective from students not really engaged in the AI industry. Without being weighed down by all the information with constraints for AI, the Daniels’ students were able to think more creatively on what might be possible.
A favorite idea from the design-thinking challenge was from Aaron Eddy, Anderson’s friend and peer graduate student. Eddy’s group proposed the idea of leveraging the data that is generated from the voice technology in Comcast products to gain more insights on the individual consumers.
Overall, for the third straight year, the Comcast and Daniels collaboration was a success. Graduate students leave feeling that they are making an impact in the community and Comcast has more brainpower to work with.