At UBC Sauder, faculty members are more than just ‘professors.’ They conduct impactful research that is changing how society views the world while also inspiring students to pursue their academic passions and become the thoughtful, values-driven leaders the business world needs. This year, UBC Sauder welcomes seven new full-time lecturers, tenured and tenure-track faculty to the school. In the third of this series, we introduce you to Mi Zhou, Assistant Professor, Accounting and Information Systems Division, UBC Sauder School of Business.
What brought you to UBC Sauder?
It’s both the people and the place. There are many great researchers in my field at UBC Sauder, and I love the beautiful campus and Vancouver!
What are your areas of research and how did you get into this field?
I got into the field of information systems because I was obsessed with the intersection of technology and business. In the past several decades, technological innovations changed the way we conduct business in many different industries. I wanted to study how new technologies cause power shifts in industries and affect individual behavior with a deep understanding of both the technical and business aspects, and I was fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of information systems.
What fuels your research – what prompted you to research this area?
In my research, I use econometric and machine learning techniques to analyze individual behavior in technology-enabled markets using both structured and unstructured data (e.g., text, image, audio, and video). The rapid development of algorithms and hardware provides exciting opportunities for the application of novel statistical and computational methods for solving business and societal problems. At the same time, the growth of unstructured data is reshaping management, which creates opportunities to generate new managerial techniques and insights, which also fuels my research.
What inspires you to teach?
I will be teaching business programming and analytics, which is closely related to my research interests. I am passionate about teaching students how to use machine learning frameworks to design complex models with ease and to deploy them at scale in order to derive business insights using real-world data. I think teaching is a great privilege of our profession that gives us an opportunity to help individuals discover and develop their talents to make a difference in the world.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?
Unstructured data such as video and image are becoming ubiquitous in business contexts. But analyzing unstructured data entails formidable methodological challenges which limit the current use of these data to generate managerial insights. In my research, I often use interdisciplinary methods drawn from economics, machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing to explore the rich insights that these data can provide, which gives me an interesting perspective to understand individual behavior in the digital world.
What do you believe is the future of your industry?
Technology is going to disrupt every industry, including education. The past few decades have witnessed how upstart companies powered by new technologies have challenged the status quo in many industries such as retail, entertainment, and travel. It is imperative to cultivate future leaders with a deep understanding of both technology and business.
What are you most looking forward to in Vancouver?
I’m really looking forward to exploring the beautiful nature around the campus and beyond!