What solutions can analytics provide to the worldwide diabetes epidemic?


Diabetes represents a significant burden on society.  In 2016, 415 million people worldwide suffered with this disease, leading to approximately 5 million deaths and $673 billion to $1.197 trillion in global healthcare spending. The problem is growing rapidly – by 2040, diabetes will affect an estimated 640 million people.

The chronic nature of the disease, its growing incidence, and an increasingly elderly population will converge to pose significant social and economic challenges to nations around the world, including direct costs such as inpatient hospital care and medication and indirect costs such as the loss of productivity and GDP.

Merck has made significant investments in the research and development of medications targeting diabetes and intends to pursue a strategy that will maximize benefits to global human health over the next 15 years. However, determining where and how to deploy these resources is a critical component of combating the diabetes epidemic.

The Merck Challenge

Your challenge is to identify the countries that are most at risk of being impacted by diabetes through 2030. Your analysis should address one or more of the following questions:

  • What metrics best quantify the impact of the disease? Make sure you justify your choices with evidence.
  • How can Merck position itself to best combat diabetes in these countries? How does the strategy change across countries (i.e., consider local differences)?
  • What is the potential impact of your strategy? To what degree can your approach mitigate the effects of the disease, based on the metrics you chose?

Some additional guidelines:

  • You may assume an ideal scenario: i.e., Merck has unlimited global reach and no government restrictions or pricing pressures.
  • Make sure you explain the data and methods used to support your claims.
  • You are encouraged to integrate data beyond the recommended sources below into your analysis. Be creative!


Other Rules

  • The project submissions must entirely be the work of the project team. While faculty and other individuals can help review the submission, they should not contribute to the content of the report or the solution.
  • Incomplete submissions will not be considered, so make sure you have all of your submission deliverables are in the submission package.
  • The contest materials must be submitted by the due dates. Late submissions will not be accepted and no extensions will be given.
  • Teams must be members of an AIS Student Chapter.

General Information

  • Submission Instructions

    What you should submit

    • The story: A graphic that reflects the major findings of your data analysis.
      • It can be a static image or interactive (such as JavaScript).
      • It can be in the form of charts, diagrams, or an infographic.
    • The background: A brief description, one single-spaced page or less, describing what’s great about your analysis and your graphic.
      • Highlight how your analysis helped you arrive at your conclusions.
      • Highlight how your graphic illustrates your key findings.

    How you should submit

    • Email your entry to analyticschallenge@temple.edu by 11:59 P.M. on March 1, 2017.
      • Make sure it’s clear which of the three challenges you’re addressing.
    • Attach the graphic and the description as separate files to a single email message with the subject “Entry for Analytics Challenge”.
    • The following must be clearly displayed on the graphic and on the one page-description: (1) the name of the challenge (Alexion, Amerisourcebergen, or Merck), (2) each team member’s name and college/university name.
    • Convert static graphics to PDF format. The one-page description must also be in PDF format. There are free tools that do this, such as PDF Creator.
    • Interactive graphics must be self-contained and run without special software on any Windows 10 PC. Web-based graphics must run using the Chrome browser.

    What happens after you submit

    • You will receive a confirmation email acknowledging your entry.
    • Finalists will be notified by email on or around March 6, 2017.
    • Finalists will present their work in front of the judging panel at the AIS SCLC April 13-15, 2017.
  • Timeline

    • All preliminary submissions must be received no later than March 1, 2017
    • Finalists will be announced on or around March 6, 2017
    • The winner will be revealed at the Student Chapters Leadership Conference between April 13-15, 2017
  • Prizes

    There will be awards in two categories: graphic and analysis. The judges will evaluate each entry on both categories. Prizes will be awarded for each category separately and an entry can only win in a single category.


    First place – $2,000
    Second place – $1,000
    Third place – $500


    First place – $2,000
    Second place – $1,000
    Third place – $500


Get more data using the Temple Univerity Paley Library Guides

Paley Library has created an excellent set of guides that highlight where to find even more data for each challenge.The guide also will point you to additional resources about creating effective graphics.

Create graphics with Tableau and PowerBI

All Temple University students can get a free one-year license for Tableau! Tableau is a leading, easy to use visual analytics tool. Sign up on Tableau’s website and you’ll receive an activation key. Once you install the software, start with their Tableau Training and Tutorials.

Microsoft PowerBI also allows you to create visualizations through a user-friendly interface. Their product is alsofree for download. They also have a nice “getting started” tutorial.

Map geospatial data

  • Google Fusion Tables is simple. You need a regular – non-Temple – Google account.
  • Carto creates great looking maps. A free-tier is available.

Create infographics

Get public data

Lynda resources

Lynda.com hosts software video tutorials. Acces to the following resources may require an account.


How entries will be evaluated

All entries will be evaluated by the judges in two categories: visualization and analysis.

The specific criteria for each category are:


  • Clarity (how well the graphic stands on its own without additional explanation)
  • Novelty/creativity (originality of thought; surprising way of approaching the data)
  • Insight (graphic aids understanding of the data)
  • Utility (ability of the graphic to aid decision making)


  • Relevance (analysis relates to the problem statement)
  • Completeness (degree to which the analysis answers the stated question)
  • Depth (sophistication of the analysis)
  • Consistency (conclusions consistent with the analysis)

Your entry will be disqualified if…

  • It is submitted after the deadline.
  • The attachments won’t open or are in the wrong file format.
  • Your interactive graphic won’t run.
  • You don’t specify the challenge you are addressing.
  • Team member names and college name are not on both the graphic and the description.