Research and Application
My research investigates the diffusion of information. I examine three large questions: (1) How do consumers find things out?, (2) What do consumers do with that information once they have it?, and (3) How do they pass their product insights along to others through online word-of-mouth? Given the explosion of new forms of Internet-based communication technologies, especially with the advent of social media, the answers to these questions are changing and new every day. Digital transformation is and will continue to fundamentally alter the way business is done, and at the base of this transformation is the flow of information among consumers. If we can understand that, then we can better prepare managers for the constantly changing future. I view this process through the lens of complex systems, i.e., that the best way to understand information diffusion is to model the consumers as individuals who are diffusing product insights and marketing information and their interactions, and then observe the emergent outcome of those models, such as product purchases, churn processes, and overall customer lifetime value.
I have applied my research to social media analytics, freemium network-based games, app adoption, not-for-profit donations, and innovation adoption. I have worked with a number of different companies and organizations while studying these research questions, including: Teradata, Expedia, American Red Cross, National Geographic, Brazil's Institute of Applied Economic Research, and many more.
Besides providing marketing insights to understand the diffusion of information, I am also interested in creating tools, pedagogy, and frameworks to help managers make more data-driven decisions. I teach classes, workshops, and MOOCs on agent-based modeling, digital marketing analytics, and data science, and the application of these methods to marketing and management decisions. In my research, I work extensively with machine learning and artificial intelligence, including causal state modeling, natural language processing, neural networks, and evolutionary computation, and I have written a textbook on agent-based modeling and teach an award winning MOOC based on this book.
- July 26, 2017: Presented an invitational talk, "Building Agent-Based Decision Support Systems for Network-based Communication", at the Santa Fe Institute's Short Course on Big Data and Networks in New York City.
- July 5, 2017: "Brand Buzz in the Echoverse", Kelly Hewett, William Rand, Roland Rust, and Harald van Heerde is named Best Published Paper of 2016 by the Oxford Centre for Corporate Reputation.
- June 28, 2017: "You Are When You Tweet" with Anthony Weishampel was presented at Statistical Challenges in Electronic Commerce Research (SCECR) 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
- June 10, 2017: Two talks at Marketing Science in Los Angeles: (1) "Who Will Become The Next Hub?: An Early Prediction Framework For Influential Users During Urgent Events", and (2) "Don't Do It Right, Do It Fast: Speed and Quality of Innovation as an Emergent Process"
- June 9, 2017: “Simulating macro-level effects from micro-level observations”, Ned Smith and William Rand is accepted at Management Science.