Impact Makers

IM Shahriar Akter - mobile
IM Shahriar Akter - mobile

The business of digital

Associate Professor Shahriar Akter
Sydney Business School

Co-creating new business knowledge with digital transformation and big data analytics

The rise of the digital economy and big data analytics is set to create a world of opportunity for business, government and the community in coming years. Simultaneously, how we harness the variety and purpose of data and the associated complexity of analysing and securing data is one of the great challenges of this generation.

Digital marketing and analytics expert Associate Professor Shahriar Akter is investigating the opportunities and the risks involved in this emerging area of research with a team of PhD students.

“Creating the means to help the world circumnavigate this big data revolution is essential,” he says.

And it cannot be done alone. A/Prof Akter is taking a co-creation approach to his work. He prioritises interdisciplinary research and pursues opportunities to work on real-world projects and collaborate with industry partners.

For example, A/Prof Akter has helped others see and understand the potential of social media and big data analytics in emergency services, thanks for a longstanding collaboration with the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES). He has also contributed a case study on the subject (titled Achieving High-Level Emergency Service Delivery through Digital Transformation and Big Data Analytics: The Case of New South Wales State Emergency Service in Australia) to the Case Centre, a not-for-profit organisation that advocates case method teaching (a method of teaching where students review and try to resolve a real-world situation) in business education.

Another project in collaboration with NSW SES explored the types of social media data and analytics that improve organisational performance. A/Prof Akter found in his social media studies that the use of sentiment analysis, topic modelling, and analysis of engagement, social networks and trends maximise business value. Other studies by his team also showed that most businesses do not know how to embrace big data or how to find value in it, though A/Prof Akter and his team are working on ways to help people overcome this through an interdisciplinary approach.

Encouraging business students to adopt social media for marketing early on may be part of the solution. A/Prof Akter regularly interacts with students via LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

“These tools help me engage with my students and achieve learning outcomes,” he says.

A/Prof Akter was recognised for his approach to teaching and learning by UOW in 2014 with an Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning Award.