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It May Be Time to Add Analytics to Your Business Skillset

It May Be Time to Add Analytics to Your Business Skillset

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management-business-analyticsBy Dr. Rebekah Anderson and Dr. Charles Johnson
Adjunct Professors, School of Business at American Public University

As technology has changed the landscape of business processes, it has also created a necessity for decision-makers to have the ability to use various tools to create, manipulate, and report data. In business and management, analytics has arisen as a method for less experienced managers to make decisions similar to an experience-based approach.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s May 2011 Big Data report, by 2018 demand for people with analytical talent could be 50-60 percent greater than supply in United States. By relying on this kind of insight rather than on gut feelings, managers are now able to improve efficiency, reduce risk, and increase profits by making more targeted decisions in all areas of business, such as product pricing, inventory levels, marketing campaigns, and hiring.

Analytics is not just for large corporations. It enables smaller companies the ability to compete with bigger companies by improving efficiency and differentiation. It also helps companies to better understand customer demands and determine what products to change or offer and what to charge.

While many business employees have programming skills, many cannot turn data into insights to guide their business. Companies find that it is hard to train for these skills so formal coursework in business analytics may be the best route to gain these skills.

[Related: A Business Primer on Big Data and Cybersecurity Litigation]

Analytics coursework provides students a foundational knowledge in analytics, used in business to strengthen the decision-making process. Students learn operational statistical theories, software options to work with data, and how to integrate concepts into objective decision-making.

At American Public University, Analytics I (BUSN250) covers this information for students to learn to apply the information to current or future management analysis for their work. The course emphasizes the appropriate use of business analytics, modelling, data classifications, and support systems. Students learn how to integrate business analytics with data modelling using Microsoft Excel.

People who complete the course are able to:

  • Compare and contrast data, information and knowledge within organizational contexts.
  • Compare and contrast the data elements commonly used in a spreadsheet format repository of data.
  • Compute means, medians, modes, and standard deviations of small data sets to demonstrate knowledge of descriptive statistics.
  • Compare metrics (measures) used in one’s organization with that of competitors.
  • Classify existing sources of data within the workplace setting.
  • Describe the elements of the information infrastructure within an organization.
  • Interpret the meaning of means, medians, modes, and standard deviations within an applied context at work.
  • Use data visualization software features within spreadsheet, statistical, and data visualization programs to display data.

Business analytics is crucial in today’s business world as more companies are using data to make business decisions. Business analytics enables a company to make improvements to business processes, which can lead to a competitive edge in a tough commoditized market.

Recognizing the importance of this skill, American Public University offers a series of three courses in analytics. Look for our follow up articles discussing Analytics II and III in the coming months.

About the Authors

Dr. Rebekah Anderson is an adjunct professor at American Public University. She has a Doctorate in Business Administration with a specialization in Business Intelligence from Capella University.   She teaches business Analytics and Graduate Quantitative Analysis.

Dr. Charles Johnson has been an adjunct professor at American Public University since Aug 2010. He has a Doctorate in Business Administration Jones International University. He teaches Business Analytics, Operations Research, and the Senior Seminar in General Studies. He is a retired US Marine pilot.

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