Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Underground Issue 01

Focus on Faculty: Dr. Nick Koudas

Dr. Nick Koudas, a computer science professor at UTSC, is one of many who dispel the myth that UTSC doesn’t attract high-profile professors.

Koudas is both a professor and successful CEO. Earlier this year, he won first prize at the annual U of T Inventor of the Year awards.

He is also the co-founder and president of Sysomos, a company that caters to numerous corporate clients, such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Nike. Sysomos is a service that gathers data from social media and analyzes it in real time.

Koudas believes Sysomos will succeed because it satisfies the needs of both business es and ordinary consumers.

“Nowadays, lots of people reach out and engage online. If you have any problems with your new product, you just tweet. That’s what people do,” said Koudas.

He claims there is a need for companies to provide an easier way to engage with clients. The power of social media helps him understand what clients want in order to improve his company, he said.

At a time when 600 tweets are produced per second worldwide, Koudas acknowledges that it is sometimes challenging to analyze and produce new information out of what is gathered.

But he keeps a positive attitude. “You know, challenges are nice. They make you improve,” he said.
Koudas’ attempt to challenge the flood of information began in 2005 when he started an individual research project as a new professor at U of T.

The early stages of the project did not involve the role of social media.
“Social media was a new data source of information for me to analyze,” said Koudas.

Koudas and his company hired marketing specialists to help them with their endeavour. Their pitch attracted many of the world’s biggest transnational corporations.

And it’s paid off; in the last four years, Sysomos has established its name in the industry and doubled its size.

Koudas encouraged all UTSC students to also follow their dreams.
“You should do what makes you happy. You should find something you feel like you are willing to go through any hardships [for],” he said. “Something that makes you feel great every time you wake up in the morning.”

But Koudas is not an extreme idealist.

“If there’s money, that’s great,” he said. “But you need to find something with passion. You are going to be successful [in] whatever you do as long as you have passion for [it].”

Koudas currently teaches CSCD43: Data Systems Technology. To learn more about Sysomos, visit his company website here.

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