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BYU bests U of U in annual web analytics business competition

There weren’t any painted faces or fight songs playing, but a rivalry was in the air as teams from the University of Utah joined Brigham Young University at the seventh biannual Omniture Web Analytics Competition. But the cougars triumphed with team “.convert” taking home the grand prize of $10,000 and three plasma TVs.

“This was the first time the U of U teams have participated in the competition,” said Jeff Brown, Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology program director. “The in-state rivalry added a new and exciting element to the competition.”

The competition called for teams to use Omniture’s SiteCatalyst software to analyze online traffic and consumer patterns on Overstock.com. Students then found the most profitable paths through Overstock.com’s Web site, determined where visitors were leaving the site and made recommendations to increase revenues.

“The skill set that the teams have been practicing here is incredibly valuable in the world,” said John Meller, executive vice president of Omniture.

.convert competed last semester and took fourth place. They came back this semester with a different approach and a more polished presentation to take the top prize as well as the audience-choice award.

The team consisted of Oliver Christensen, a first-year MBA student from Oak Hill, Va.; Justin Maner, a second-year MBA student from Taylor, Ariz.; and Nate Smith, a first-year MBA student from Orem, Utah.

“The biggest challenge of the competition is the sheer volume of data. You have to be able to quickly hone in on something that is a diamond in the rough,” Christensen said.

More than 70 teams from BYU and the U of U submitted presentations. Omniture reviewed the presentations and narrowed it down to two BYU teams and two U of U teams to compete in the finals.

Going Green, from BYU, placed second and received $5,000 and an iPod touch for each team member. Sand Pit Ninjas, from the U of U, placed third and received $2,500 and a digital camera for each team member. Triple Threat, from the U of U, placed fourth and received $1,000 and an iPod shuffle for each team member.

A Hall of Fame award was created this year to allow past winners to compete while letting new teams win cash prizes. Reed Olsen and David Wilson of Group X, the first-place winners of last semester's competition, were the first Hall of Fame inductees and received $5,000.

The competition is co-sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and Omniture. The next competition will take place during fall semester 2009 and is open to all BYU and U of U students.

Writer: Emily Webster

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