ArcNews Online

Spring 2008

E-mail to a Friend

College Students Use GIS in Business Intelligence Competition

For the second year, Esri provided GIS software and staff resources to assist in the design, staging, and judging of the Business Intelligence (BI) Competition at the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) annual National Collegiate Conference held March 27–28, 2008. The conference was held in Memphis, Tennessee.

The BI Competition is hosted by Central Michigan University (CMU) and the Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMU-RC). The objective of the competition is to introduce the use of GIS and BI software tools to a large audience of future technology leaders.

"We chose Esri's Business Analyst Online software because it is a true BI tool that combines GIS technology with extensive business, consumer, and demographic data to deliver relevant reports and maps," says Tim Pletcher, CMU-RC. "The software was also easy for us to integrate into the competition because it is a Web-based solution and doesn't require any additional software to be installed on the participants' computers."

Sixteen undergraduate and four graduate teams were given four hours to solve a business problem that involved prioritizing potential new retail store locations from a list of six available sites. A budget of $85 million and a set of key factors were part of each analysis. Participants used Business Analyst Online trade area analysis tools, such as drive-time and buffer analyses, and the reporting functionality to generate demographic, consumer spending, market potential, and retail marketplace profit reports to derive revenue-to-asset ratios based on primary, secondary, and tertiary service areas for each potential site.

The participants' task was to use Business Analyst Online and the included data to determine the retail site location or locations containing the highest revenue-to-asset ratio that could be constructed within the $85 million budget. Although not all participants had experience using GIS software, they found Business Analyst Online an intuitive software tool to use.

Findings were presented to a panel of judges in a three-page executive summary, including maps as appropriate. The top three graduate and undergraduate placements received awards. Honorable mention awards were also provided. Undergraduate winners were as follows:

  • First place: Zach Waugh, Nick Tuttle—Oklahoma Panhandle State University
  • Second place: Nathan Bower—University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • Third place: Steven Bauer, Matthew Brickner—Central Michigan University

Graduate winners were as follows:

  • First place: Adeyinka Owotuyi, Iris (Yuyin) Qiu—Central Michigan University
  • Second place: Robb Winkie—Missouri Western State University
  • Third place: Shirish Modi, Nilesh Hardikar—University of Central Missouri

CMU-RC is a not-for-profit organization established to facilitate innovative research and development opportunities between the university and high technology companies. The organization is focused on the areas of nanoscale sciences, business insight services, economic development, and health information technology.

More Information

For more information, contact Roger Hayen, professor, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan (tel.: 989-774-3889, e-mail:

Contact Us | Privacy | Legal | Site Map