Data analysis and making informed business decisions formed the basis for a recent competition in the Davis College of Business to learn more about Microsoft Excel and its importance in the business world.
Students in an Applied Business & Economic Analysis course taught by Dr. Angela Mattia, Assistant Professor of Decision Science & Information Management, participated in a dashboard competition in the atrium. This course is required of all business majors as a part of the Davis College Core curriculum, as well as being recognized as an undergraduate research intensive course, as required by the Jacksonville University core. Groups of two or three students were given data sets from a fictional corporation and were tasked with analyzing a set of data with more than 2,100 lines of unmanipulated numbers.
Each group constructed a dashboard to display the data for analysis regarding sales, distribution and other pertinent information to visualize the meaning behind the data. The process of creating these dashboards is becoming more common, as businesses are utilizing data collection and analysis in the space of business analytics.
Students were required to create their dashboards and present them to someone outside of the University, and get their feedback on usability, appearance and overall functionality. From that feedback, they would present their findings as recommendations on how they would improve their dashboard.
“The bottom line is that analytic skills are very important for many occupations in today’s workplace. We need to learn them, but employers also value soft skills in all occupations.” said Dr. Mattia. “This project gives valuable professional experience in combining analytical skills with critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and networking skills”
Due to the changing landscape of business, the Davis College of Business has been focusing on creating more emphasis on the importance of business analytics within the curriculum. The inaugural Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program was designed with three key pillars in mind, one of those being Business Analytics. DBA candidates will also conduct research in the business analytics field during the candidates’ program.
Dr. Vikas Agrawal was hired as an Associate Professor of Business Analytics this fall to support the new initiative. An addition of a business analytics concentration is in the planning stages for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, as well as an undergraduate major in business analytics.
“In speaking with many companies such as Deutsche Bank and Florida Blue, we understand that there is a larger emphasis on ‘big data’ and making the best management decisions based on empirical evidence,” said Dean Don Capener. “Therefore we are committed to being ahead of the curve when it comes to shaping our curriculum.”
A recent article in the Nov. 6 edition of the Wall Street Journal titled “Big Data Gets Master Treatment” cited the importance of business analytics to companies such as General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and Walt Disney Co., as they plan to hire more candidates with analytical skills who understand business decision processes. In addition, programs at many top business schools such as Jacksonville University have or are in the process of rolling out Masters’ level programs in business analytics. According to the WSJ, Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Michigan State University are developing an analytics program.
“In today’s workplace, massive amounts of data are available, which drives decision making, and businesses need employees with analytical skills to gain insight and make those decisions. Many business schools are seeing that an analytical skill set is in high demand and are responding with new programs in Business Analytics” said Dr. Mattia.
Currently, all undergraduate and graduate Davis College of Business students are required to take four Decision Science & Information Management courses, which is the basis for business analytics.