MinneFRAMA Brings Data Science to the Science Museum of Minnesota

Conference Chair and MinneAnalytics Board Member Dave Mathias shares his top takeaways from the Dec. 3 event.

By Dave Mathias

MinneFRAMA 2018 was Monday, Dec. 3 at the Science Museum of Minnesota and it was another fantastic MinneAnalytics event! More than 850 participants came out for our first conference in St. Paul, which focused on financial, retail, and marketing analytics. The T-Rex welcoming guests at the door was a sure sign they were in for a roar of a day!

Here are my top 10 observations from the conference:

  1. The Science Museum of Minnesota was a hit. Tons of great conversations were helped by the fantastic space. We made music all day by ascending and descending the musical stairs. Plus, it was a huge bonus to get a free ticket to a future Science Museum visit!
  2. AI was all the buzz. The hype is strong with AI at MinneFRAMA this year. However, the applications went deep, including discussions on the future of work, augmenting attorneys, and even AI to monitor AI.

    Melissa Krasnow leads the panel discussion “How Data Analytics Opportunities Can Co-Exist With US and EU Privacy Regulation.”
  3. The future of data privacy regulation is uncertain, but the direction is not. With Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act in place, the general view is this is only the start. There was a good discussion around data privacy and its present and future with Melissa Krasnow moderating a panel of experts, including Tim Nagle, Erich Axmacher, and Brad Hammer.
  4. Data storytelling and viz is in high demand. The importance of data visualization and storytelling was a popular theme. Arlene Birt’s “Visual Storytelling: Putting Data into Context session” was a hit and great turnout for the TC Data Viz MeetUp with an engaged audience right after lunch.

    Speakers Josh Moe and Morgan Catlin using a whiteboard to tell their story at the Elements Café overlooking the Mississippi River. Photo by SavvyPhotage
  5. Not everyone needs a screen and slides. This is the first time MinneAnalytics had a room that was designed to not have a screen! Lots of great sessions were held in an informal setting at the Elements Café overlooking the Mississippi River. Josh Moe and Morgan Catlin used a whiteboard to tell their story. We also saw post-it notes and pinned print outs!
  6. Sharing a meal with She Talks Data. The wonderful She Talks Data MeetUp held a networking session over lunch. Packed from the start, it was a popular destination. Thank you to Serena Roberts and Laura Madsen for continuing to advocate for women in data!

    Tad Gullickson, founder of Copernicus, pitches during the Startup Showcase.
  7. Startups abound. We had more startups participate in the MinneFRAMA Startup Showcase than any of our prior events. Analytics knows no company size boundaries and is often a key disruptor for startups.
  8. Getting technical. While our annual Data Tech conference is MinneAnalytics’ most technical event, MinneFRAMA had many great technical sessions starting off with sessions like Dr. Joseph Konstan’s talk about recommender systems and ending with Jason McNellis’ “Sniff Out, Then Snuff Regression to the Mean.” Like all MinneAnalytics events, the goal is to provide a variety of options.
    Jason Rogowski and Ryan Stellmaker present to a full crowd in the Omnitheater.
  9. Standing room only. While I can’t speak to all the sessions, Jason Rogowski and Ryan Stellmaker’s session “Building Marketing Analytics Capabilities, Brick by Brick” was definitely in the running for the biggest audience, which saw standing room only in the Omnitheater. Impressive Jason and Ryan!
  10. Live podcast taping to kick things off. Last year we had Kyle Polich record an interview with Joe Konstan, Ph.D. on Data Skeptic at FARCON, this year Matt Jesser and I interviewed Liz Weber and Tessa Enns on the Data Able podcast. Liz and Tessa told some great stories about successful analytics projects. Make sure to subscribe to Data Able on your favorite podcast catcher and listen to the MinneFRAMA taping when it’s released.

So what is my big takeaway from all of this? It is all about community! While sessions were often full, there were many hallway conversations between sessions. I saw tons of engagement with people making new connections and re-invigorating old connections. There was even a mini-job fair connecting organizations with participants seeking new opportunities. And of course, the day ended with good beer, good wine, and good conversations.

All in all, we had another stellar MinneAnalytics event thanks to the presenters, sponsors, and most importantly, the participants. Thank you again to my amazing conference co-chairs Graeme Thickins, Renee Ernst, Stacia Whelan, and Bethany Klebanov.

See what other people shared about the event by searching #MinneFRAMA on your favorite social media platform. You can also check out many of the presentation decks at this link.

Until next year!

Dave Mathias
MinneFRAMA Conference Chair & MinneAnalytics Board of Directors