IE Big Data Club: Data Expedition 2017

Written on August 28, 2017 by Campus Life in Other Activities

On 2nd and 3rd June 2017, the IE Big Data Club, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), organized the second edition of the IE Data Expedition Challenge. The aim of the challenge was to offer multi-disciplinary teams the hands-on experience of using a real dataset to understand, define and propose solutions for a real business problem.

The Business Case

This year, the chosen topic was ‘how to use data to improve project teams collaborations by a client. Teams were tasked to use the dataset provided to analyze and report the extent to which collaboration happened during the organization’s project preparation processes.

Some aspects that participants were asked to consider while analyzing the data were:
•Levels of collaboration by teams at sector, division and country levels.
•Involvement of units in the collaboration process and their characteristics e.g. homogeneity or heterogeneity.
•Relationships between extent of collaboration, in numbers and hours, and length of time to project approval.
•Frameworks of collaboration e.g. if it happened beyond the stipulated project scope and time.

The end goal was for the data challenge participants to provide suggestions on how to strengthen beneficial collaborations identified within the client’s teams and on promoting more results-oriented performance therein.


The dataset to be used for the challenge was prepared in advance and a team of mentors and judges for the weekend event was set up. Mentors and judges, drawn from different companies, greatly enhanced the experience for the teams present at the data expedition weekend. Our mentors and judges were experts in business and technology within various industries. They hailed from IDB, Carto, The Cocktail, GMV, McKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young, BBVA Data and Analytics, Ericsson, SUNN, CBRE, Next Limit Technologies and the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology. A few days ahead of the data expedition weekend, multidisciplinary teams were constituted, participants were from various graduate programs within IE – including the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data and the International MBA – and beyond IE.  Teams included a mix of business and data science skilled members. They were expected to make creative decisions, document their hypotheses and leverage their data visualization and analytics skills to provide solutions to the challenge provided.

Data Expedition Weekend

After months of preparation and anticipation, the long awaited weekend finally arrived. IE Big Data Club and IDB officially kicked off the event on Friday 2nd June 2017 at IE’s cool co-working space in Area 31. After the teams warmed up and members knew each other a bit better, it was all systems go! Participants quickly dived into the process: brainstorming on ideas, defining hypothesis and running initial exploration on the data set. The space was abuzz with team discussions and questions. Team mentors, including the IDB online team based in Washington DC, were at hand to offer one-on-one assistance as participants navigated difficult questions and refined their ideas. It was a great first day of ideation, data crunching, fun and, off course, food to fuel the hard working sessions. After hours of initial analysis, teams defined their strategies in approaching the challenge and divided the specific tasks among themselves. The second and final day of the challenge began on a high note as teams dove deeper into the dataset, tested their hypotheses and finalized on their proposals. The mentors were more involved in supporting the participants with the detailed business and technical workings of the challenge. After a full day of intense effort, it was time for teams to submit their final outputs.  The energy and tension was palpable as the submission deadline arrived. At last, teams sent their reports, presentations and code, setting the stage for the final pitches. The judges arrived at the end of the day, ready for the assessment phase of the final outputs.  After a short break, all teams presented their findings and proposed solutions, to the judges and fellow participants.

Thereafter, there was another break as judges deliberated on the results from the pitching session. The conversations were animated as teams reflected on their different experiences during the challenge. Our club received great feedback from the participating teams. They said it was lots of fun, a great learning experience and a great opportunity for networking.

Finally, the judges brought in their verdicts, but first, some feedback. They mentioned that most teams did a great job of understanding the business case and had made an effort to link their processes and proposed solutions to the case. A key take away point was that participants needed to understand that great pitching and good data visualization skills were powerful tools in communicating with actual teams in an organization: business and technical. In a nutshell, “…keep it relevant, simple, factual, engaging and well delivered”.

Weekend Prize and Grand Prize Winners

The winning team of the IE Big Data Club Challenge weekend was Team Dataholics. Teams Insiders and Funtastic took 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The winners of the weekend challenge received  prizes from our sponsors and all participants received a certificate of participation for their amazing work. 

After the weekend event, all the submitted presentations were assessed by the IDB team for the grand prize award. Team Dataholics scooped the grand prize award – a fully sponsored round trip to present the team’s results to the IDB head office team in Washington DC. Team Elementary My Dear Watson received honourable mention for the collaboration algorithm they created.

Team Dataholics


The IE Big Data Club deeply thanks all the participants, mentors, judges and the organizers that made this year’s data expedition weekend a great success. In addition, a special thanks to all our sponsors: Inter- American Development Bank, GMV, The Cocktail, Carto, IE Campus Life, IE Careers & Talent and the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology.

See you all at the next IE Big Data Club Data Expedition!!

Mean while, enjoy this short video of this year’s data challenge weekend.

Beatrice Wairimu Murage

IE Big Data Club


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