It's nearly the end of March and that means two things: first, it's almost time for the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual technology conference and second, college basketball dominates sports television programming. Since I enjoy watching the sport on television, I'm fine with the second, and since I enjoy seeing friends and colleagues at MBA events (and happen to be speaking at this one), I'm fine with that, too.
What we may not be fine with are some of the conclusions I have found nestled near the intersection of these two events.
Of course, we now have a history of coincidence related to March Madness and MBA Tech. You may recall that last year about this time it was Quicken Loans that captured our attention with a brilliant marketing ploy through which they promised to give away a billion dollars (that's billion with a B) to anyone who completed the entire NCAA championship bracket correctly. There are benefits to being connected to Warren Buffet, it seems. It was quite a promotion. I even got interviewed about it on NPR, which may have been the first time the mainstream media had anything positive to say about our industry post-crash. It was a great campaign.
The bad news is that this program will not be run again this year, as some of the participants are embroiled in a lawsuit. Of course, that is really bad news for me since I have a knack for how to pick these pools. You see, I pretty much have this annual contest figured out. I was going to post my bracket on NMN's website, but the form I used was provided by ESPN and included all kinds of branding that would be inappropriate to display. I'll e-mail it to anyone who wants to see it, or find me on LinkedIn or Facebook. It's a winner!
The truth is — and I know I've said this before — I am a March Madness expert. In fact, I nearly won a pool several years ago that was being run by some friends of mine who work at a well-known government agency. Perhaps you've heard this story. These guys were hard core geeks, but I nearly stole the pot by picking the winners for each game based on a very simple formula — I used SAT scores as an inverse predictor of athletic success. That's right, I used a big data approach to find the smaller numbers, which got me very close to predicting the winners.
You see, I picked the team with the lowest SAT scores in each matchup, and watched with excitement as certain subpar schools swept aside Duke, Georgetown, UVA and others. In fact, I was leading all others in my non-government-sanctioned pool heading into the Final Four weekend just by betting on the dumb kids. Despite this secret formula, I still had no chance to get every game correct, with teams like Stanford and Michigan playing the role of bracket buster. This year, I have continued to work on my model and have refined it by focusing on graduation rates. That's how I know that Wichita State is going to win March Madness this year. Again, counterintuitive, but I'm feeling pretty confident.
How did I come up with that pick? Well, I looked at which school has the real scholars, using an inverted ranking of four-year college graduation rates as the determinant of "winners." In other words, the schools with the lower graduation rate for their student bodies (not just athletes) were selected in my bracket. So, my Final Four ends up with Wichita State, VCU, UAB, and Louisville, all of which apparently do not graduate a high percentage of their admits within four years. What happened to Kentucky? Wichita State beat them in the Elite Eight round, before beating Louisville in the final. Like I said, I'll make my bracket available to anyone who sends me an email or finds me on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Now, what does this have to do with mobile? That's the panel I'll be moderating on March 30 at the show in Orlando. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from some very experienced executives as they talk about a technology that was, up until very recently, embraced primarily by college kids who used it to fling furious fowl across the screens of their handhelds.
Now, we're in a situation in which we are driven to figure out how to deliver services using these platforms — or fail to connect with the next great mortgage market. Counterintuitive, isn't it?
I hope you can make the show so we can connect. Otherwise, I'll share some of what I learn in a future column.