UNIBusiness ramps up focus on data and analytics
In today’s world of business, not everything is wrapped in a pretty bow, particularly in an increasingly data-driven world. Millions of pieces of information can be collected in one spot with little to no organization. That’s why employers have increasingly been looking for business students with a deeper understanding of data and analytics.
Over the past year, UNIBusiness has taken steps to fill that need.
Last fall, the college created an analytics committee with representation across all of its academic disciplines. The goal? To find ways to supplement and build upon the already-strong analytics core in the college’s curriculum. So far, progress has those within UNIBusiness excited.
“Some businesses are requiring the students they hire to do this,” said Bryce Kanago, associate professor of economics and a co-chair on the analytics committee. “We’ve been getting input from businesses that this is useful. And then we get some input from students that this is especially useful in economics. So we see students being hired, and we see employers asking for these skills. That’s one of the things that motivates us.”
The committee has looked at three ways to implement analytics into the college: through the core curriculum, as a standalone second major and through a certificate or minor program. Discussions are still ongoing.
“We were challenged to look at ways analytics are being woven into our core curriculum while finding ways for students to dig deeper if they want to,” said Betsy Ratchford, instructor of Management Information Systems and another co-chair on the analytics committee. “I’m excited about the fact that we’re trying to respond to what businesses need.”
MIS added an analytics emphasis last fall, providing students the option to graduate with a deeper understanding of data and analytics. The first cohort of students with the emphasis is expected to graduate in May.
Ratchford talked with a student who completed a semester-long internship working on an analytics-focused team in Cedar Rapids. The student mentioned how important it is to interpret and organize data to ensure better decision making. That’s a main focus for UNIBusiness going forward — arm students with the skills and knowledge to make sound decisions based on a wide range of data.
“You have to know what the data is and what it’s for and what type of solution you’re coming up with to understand the business problem,” Ratchford said. “That way you know you’re getting the right type of results. Some things in business don’t change, like the core fundamentals. But we are looking for things that can help a business, excite our students and give them skills that will make them marketable to different organizations.”