March 2017 Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Guest Blogger: Dr. Cen Canel, professor of Operations Management and department chair for Information Systems and Operations Management
Businesses in every sector are facing new challenges in managing and analyzing data, which requires a specific approach and unique set of quantitative skills.
The Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) defines this specific approach as business analytics that facilitate the understanding of business objectives through reporting of data to analyze trends, creating predictive models for forecasting and optimizing business processes for enhanced performance.
The movie Moneyball is all about general manager Billy Beane’s use of data to create a Major League Baseball contender in a small market –Oakland - with a limited budget. Likewise, the analytics approach assists businesses in the collection, management and analysis of data, with an eye toward high-level decisions that make a business more competitive.
Financial institutions - such as banks, credit unions and finance companies - use analytics to predict credit card default probabilities and whether or not to issue a loan based upon a customer's potential risk.
Health care organizations use analytics to schedule services for patients and to evaluate the likelihood a patient will be readmitted to the hospital within a short period after discharge.
Database marketing and market research firms mine large databases for new knowledge that can be used to gain a competitive advantage for their clients.
Retailers improve customer relationships by providing product information in a timely and relevant manner to help customers take advantage of offers on products they need.
The Information Systems and Operations Management department in the Cameron School of Business has recently introduced a new concentration in business analytics as a response to the increasing demand from industries for students with the knowledge and skills in this area.
Business analytics skills are in high demand across many industry sectors. Business analytics professionals are becoming sought after as businesses realize the significance of data movement, data-driven insight and opportunities for growth. There is a much larger demand than present graduate programs are currently meeting.
According to research by McKinsey and Company (Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity), there is a shortage of around 150,000 individuals with analytical expertise to complete needed data analysis, and a much larger shortage of managers and executives with the skills necessary to use analytics for effective decision making.
By offering this concentration, the Cameron School of Business will provide students with the opportunity to focus on using analytics skills across disciplines to improve business decision making and to fill a growing void in the workforce.
Additionally, UNCW is currently developing master’s programs in data science and business analytics to help better meet the needs of researchers and businesses today.