The use of data analytics in business, and the academic research into its use were the focus of the 14th annual conference for Statistical Challenges in E-Commerce Research (SCECR) on June 18 and 19. SCECR enables researchers to share their latest discoveries and network with fellow academics for future projects. The event at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) was attended by world-renowned academics and industry experts in e-commerce and digital platforms.

This year, SCECR was co-chaired by RSM professors Dr Rodrigo Belo and Prof. Ting Li, and Prof. Paul Pavlou of Temple University’s Fox School of Business. RSM was chosen to host the 2018 event during last year’s SCECR event in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

RSM’s Prof Eric van Heck welcomed participants to Rotterdam during a networking dinner on the eve of the conference. The SCECR welcome address was delivered the next morning by RSM Dean Steef van de Velde. He spoke of rigorous research as an essential part to drive the force for positive change, which features in RSM’s mission statement and underpins its research and education.

Keynote speech: Gerrit Schipper

“In God we trust, but all others bring data”, said Gerrit Schipper, executive director of the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA) at RSM, at the beginning of his morning keynote address, quoting statistician Edmund Demings. Schipper’s talk explored the role of data analytics in businesses – with specific focus on the insurance sector – in terms of their uses and implications in society.

Schipper offered multiple examples from insurance companies that have tackled issues of theft, road accidents and loss of crops using artificial intelligence, geolocation technologies and intelligent cameras. He argued that companies and organisations will not survive to the end of the century without using data analytics and processing. These insightful case studies strengthened his proposition that data analytics is instrumental for moulding business strategies to fit the needs of society.  

Record-breaking number of research submissions

A record-breaking number of submissions for workshop presentations were received by the organisers, of which more than 80 were selected to be presented. The subjects of these research papers addressed ideas within digital business, online platforms, social media, health and education in a digital space, piracy, and statistics research methods. Presentations were clustered into 22 thematic workshops in order to present participants with insights into the latest research and findings.

Digital divide

One of those workshops dived deep into the issue of the digital divide (which separates people with access to computers and the internet, and those who do not have access) and its influence on education in the digital space such as classroom settings, and on patient portals in the health sector. Four research papers were presented by their international co-authors. Participants were curious about each other’s research as well as critical in their feedback, providing constructive advice for future research.

Progress encourages further research

The research community wants to make further discoveries about big data and e-commerce; they were enthusiastic about the knowledge-sharing that took place in the workshops, and were eager to collaborate with each other on future international projects and research. Indeed, showcasing the progress made in this line of research encouraged the community to continue their research of the data revolution.

“SCECR has been one of the leading workshops for a community of researchers in the areas related to e-commerce and the digital economy. We, as co-chairs, have been participating [in SCECR] for many years and we wanted to contribute to the community by organizing an edition in Rotterdam,” said RSM’s Dr Rodrigo Belo.

SCECR co-chairs from RSM received good feedback; on the selection of papers, the event organisation, and on the city of Rotterdam itself. “We had the goal of having high quality research workshops and to continue building the community around the statistical challenges associated with big data and e-commerce. We definitely reached that goal,” says Dr Belo.

Exploring Rotterdam

This year’s SCECR agenda was packed with a large number of papers, but there was still time for social and networking events. The majority of participants were visitors to the Netherlands, flying in from Singapore, China, and the USA among other countries. After the first day of the conference, dinner was at Rotterdam’s 100 metre Euromast overlooking the city, and there was a tour of the extensive Port of Rotterdam.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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