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The Wharton School's Academic Research Building on Feb. 12. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Two Wharton School research entities combined to create the newly expanded Wharton AI & Analytics for Business program. 

The two entities, AI for Business and Wharton Customer Analytics, announced their merger on Jan. 11. The expansion was prompted by "fast-moving" advancements in artificial intelligence technology and businesses' increasing use of data and algorithms to make decisions, the announcement said. The new AIAB program is intended to help students and leaders be prepared to solve business challenges using artificial intelligence.

“Because so much of AI, machine learning, and analytics [go] hand in hand, we thought we would better serve our students and industry by marrying these two centers and expanding to provide more offerings to both our students and faculty,” AIAB Director of Operations and Student Engagement Matt Gray said.

Prior to the merger, AI for Business supported students with research, experience, and training to investigate AI applications. Wharton Customer Analytics was focused on applying analytics-based solutions to business problems, in order to connect the industry with academia.

AIAB brings under one roof the AI courses and academic research provided by AI for Business with the datasets and student programming in corporate analytics provided by Wharton Customer Analytics. AIAB’s overall mission is to expand how AI and analytics are used, specifically in business and society, Executive Director Mary Purk said in the announcement. 

Underlying that mission is a series of goals. AIAB's academic aim is to understand and further study how humans can collaborate with AI, and it will be guided by four research pillars: AI for Management, AI for Ethics and Governance, AI for Business Applications, and AI for Entrepreneurship.

Another goal is to help companies solve a variety of problems using whatever tool is required — whether it is AI, analytics, or both, AIAB Director of Research and Education Brandon Krakowsky said.

“We’re really acknowledging that AI is becoming a more common solution to the business problems that a lot of companies are having,” Krakowsky said. 

Purk added that AI lets businesses solve "big impact" problems through a creative lens. 

To prepare students to become the leaders of these businesses, Krakowsky said that AIAB will make sure they have the AI and analytics tools that they need to succeed. He cited how the projects that students work on have quickly become more multifaceted in recent years. As a result, a variety of methods are required in order to solve them, usually involving a combination of both analytics and AI. 

Gray added that AIAB will work to ensure that students have access to all the latest information on what is happening in the world of AI. To educate students, AIAB will provide workshops, online modules, experiential learning, and more.

“We’re going to really focus on making sure that we’re training students to understand how artificial intelligence is going to change and influence the way businesses operate,” Gray said. 

AIAB also features a Corporate Partnership Program, in which companies can work with the research institute to solve business problems. AIAB’s corporate partner list includes Fox Entertainment, IKEA, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Microsoft Corporation, Nielsen Holdings, Petco, and Zillow.

On Feb. 3, AIAB co-sponsored the 2023 Women in Data Science Conference to celebrate diversity within the field of data science.