The Department of Information Systems at HEC Lausanne (UNIL) has been working on an artificial intelligence (AI) project for Adidas since last year. The four-year project illustrates how the academic and scientific world can contribute to helping businesses tackle challenges such as digitalisation.
The HEC Lausanne-Adidas project is an excellent example of the various collaborative ventures between the academic sphere and the world of business and industry. These links allow academic research and scientists to offer their expertise and know-how to businesses to help them deal with the major challenges of our time.
What does the project involve?
Digitalisation is unquestionably one of the major challenges that businesses need to tackle to maintain and optimise their market competitiveness. Machine learning offers infinite potential in this field for automating certain processes, for example in terms of production, logistics, sales or marketing. This area of artificial intelligence uses algorithms to allow a computer to learn from its experience and as a result, continuously improve its task resolution processes.
The collaboration between HEC Lausanne and Adidas is focused on this AI technology.
The project began in 2020 and is led by Valérianne Walter, a PhD student with a Master’s in Information Systems from HEC Lausanne. She is working with Prof. Christine Legner and using a machine learning application to optimise data quality at the huge sports equipment manufacturer.
During our interview, she explained what was important and the issues at stake: “Producing high-quality data is a highly demanding task and takes a lot of human resources. But it is also one of the key pillars in a business’s digital transformation, whether that means digitalising business processes, advanced analytics applications or digital interactions with customers.” Valérianne Walter continues: “With hundreds of thousands of new items launched every season, but also customers, markets and consumers all over the world, Adidas generates an immense quantity of data. A single shoe style, for example, is defined by several hundred attributes. And the trend is continuing with the increasing need for details for online shopping, in particular.”
How did this partnership between the Department of Information Systems (DESI) and Adidas arise?
It started through the Corporate Data Quality Competence Centre (CC-CDQ). This is a research consortium that brings experts from the academic world and businesses together around the subject of digitalising data management. Academics and professionals work together to produce innovative solutions, such as the “data excellence model”. All this was the background to the project Adidas asked HEC Lausanne to implement.