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Turning Big Data into Actionable Intelligence



In the age of big data, the biggest challenge for companies is how to interpret all the information they can gather and act on it. Matthew R. Pape (MBA ’86) suggests building a team that uses both the right brain and left brain – that is, the math side for technical skills and the language side for analysis and communications. That’s what Pape, who was promoted to his current position at Ryder in April, has done at the fleet management and logistics heavyweight. The team he leads today includes newcomers and veterans, engineers and marketers.

Pape’s group analyzes everything from internal data on Ryder customers to external data on companies, industries and market trends. His team strives to find, for example, which customers’ businesses are growing or shrinking, whether customers are part of a larger company that may have more locales Ryder can serve or whether customers are spending the industry average on logistics with Ryder. His team also works with Ryder’s digital marketing crew to track how prospects respond to Ryder emails and other digital communications – all part of an effort to expand company sales.

Pape, 58, who has been with Ryder for 31 years, recalls starting as a marketing intern in 1985, when research typically meant calling the IT department for help, waiting days for results and then sorting through inches of printouts on wide, folded sheets full of green bars. Back then, mainframe computers could pull from one database at a time. Today, PCs query multiple databases to produce swift results on digital spreadsheets. “It’s exciting to see how the power has shifted to end users,” Pape says. “We can make strategy recommendations and business decisions backed by better data than ever before - and be able to execute and monitor results too.”

For students seeking marketing careers, Pape, who chose a marketing concentration for his MBA, advises sharpening both left-and right-brain skills. He says to take courses in statistics that can help you summarize customer and market data and run models to answer such questions as: What are the key drivers for customer retention? Plus, learn to analyze data and to use software such as Excel, PowerPoint and data visualizer Tableau.

Pape attends conferences and seminars, meets consultants, searches the web and licenses new tech tools for pilot runs. “If I didn’t keep myself up-to-date and educated,” he says, “I’d be selling used cars.”

Pape is part of a University of Miami family. His wife Marina Blanco- Pape (BARCH ’81, MSME ’87) is a ’Cane, as are their daughters Mari (BSBA ’14, MAcc ’14) Marilyn (BSIE ’15) and Marie Jacqueline, a University of Miami sophomore double majoring in mechanical engineering and applied physics. Plus, Blanco- Pape’s father, Luciano Blanco, was a University of Miami physics professor and medical researcher.

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