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Building the future of data: Inside the 6th Annual ASU Data Conference

November 4th, 2022

Data is the building blocks of the world around us.

That was the theme for the sixth annual ASU Data Conference, which took place from November 1-2, 2022 at Memorial Union in Tempe. 

“People are not on an island,” said Mike Sharkey, director of data and analysis at Enterprise Technology. “ASU is very broad and federated, and the data conference is one of the ways in which we try to foster community.”

Every day, ASU leverages data-informed insights about its people, environments and products to create an even better foundation to work, learn and thrive. And during the two-day hybrid event, over 400 data professionals and enthusiasts from across the university registered to share best practices and upskill in new data tools and processes. 

With 42 activities offered, participants and presenters alike had various opportunities to learn from, and share with, fellow data enthusiasts across ASU. Sessions ranged from showcasing performance dashboards — including a partnership with ASU Athletics to improve the Academic Progress Rate — to best practices with tools like Airtable, Alteryx, Query and more. 

“This conference has become such a staple in our community,” said Kristin Kennedy, senior director at EdPlus at ASU. “And just seeing how many people look forward to it every year is always exciting.”

 

Teams from across ASU came together to participate in knowledge-sharing sessions. 

Being able to come to this data conference and meet people at all levels and hear the challenges they're having, or the things they're doing, is just really cool,” said Kennedy. “To be able to speak to that community and learn about what's going on in their lives gives you information you wouldn't otherwise have.”

On day two, Sharkey hosted Sliced!, a data-challenge competition inspired by the hit show Chopped! 

Judged on accuracy, design and storytelling, contestants spent an hour slicing data before presenting in front of a live audience.

Games, such as Sliced!, have a unique and powerful ability to build rapport and spark imagination, even if contestants have never worked together, have never met, or have different skill sets. The overarching goal is to build a supportive community and collaborate, said Sharkey. “This is not an ‘I win, you lose’ style of competition. It’s very positive and supportive.”

Strong cross-institutional networks are essential to ASU’s data-driven future. Year after year, block by block, the Data Conference helps break down barriers to form deeper connections, no matter your background in data. 

“There's something for everyone, whether you are a hardcore data user, or just curious, there's something exciting for you,” said Kennedy. “It’s a legacy we get to leave to our community so that they can find out what's going on here across ASU.”

ASU Enterprise Technology is proud to host the Data Conference for the ASU data community each year. Learn more about our annual events. 

Written by Kevin Pirehpour; photos by Mike Sanchez.