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Making Your Mark: Business Analytics for Managers

As access to Big Data becomes readily available to a larger field of businesses, managers need to have more sophisticated business analysis skills to keep up. According to Accenture, nearly 8 in 10 enterprise executives agree that companies will lose market share and possibly even face extinction if they do not get on board with Big Data. 

“Business analytics is not just about learning technique,” according to Alex Pelaez, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Business Analytics at the Frank G. Zarb School of Business. “If you focus on the math you miss something. There’s an art form to it. The data will tell you what you need to know, but you need to spend time with it. Too many business leaders are biased and look for something specific in the data and they find it. You have to challenge your assumptions. The solutions you come up with are not textbook solutions, you have to be creative and ask questions like, how do I split the data? Do I exclude data?”

The need for skilled managers is driving a job growth of almost 15% for MBA graduates with business analytics skills in the New York Metro area alone.* And since the average annual salary for business analysts is $102,390, it is also a lucrative path for students considering a career in business. To set yourself apart requires learning not just the technical aspects, but what they mean and how to present them to leadership so they can make the right decisions.  

“At Hofstra, we are not just trying to teach you data science from a statistical aspect, but rather how to leverage that implement solutions around what the data tells you,” says Peleaz. “The bottom line is that analytics is all about generating a competitive advantage for your division over others in your industry. We focus on using data to gain insights into getting that advantage, and that really sets our students apart.”

“I don’t care how much math you know. If you can’t articulate it,” Pelaez said, “if you can’t offer insights for the business,  you’re no different from a computer.”

“That’s why our approach to teaching analytics is very interactive. We use real data sets, sometimes as large as 500,000 data points,” he said. “We’ll learn a technique as part of a lecture, but then ask students to use that technique in a real-world example, using real data sets, even if they don’t know a lot about that particular industry. Working in groups they’ll practice techniques and analyze the data to come up with insights and recommendations. Then they present their findings to the class.”

Anyone at a manager-level or above needs to understand business analytics in order to make decisions that will impact a company.

What kinds of managers need business analytics?  

According to Forbes, Big Data and advanced business analytics impact companies’ revenue growth the most in Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, Supply Chain Management, Workplace Management, and Operations. Dr. Pelaez points out the need for all managers–no matter how diverse their fields–to be proficient in business analytics such as: 

  • Marketing managers need to analyze the results of their campaigns to determine where they get the best ROI. This is especially true in areas such as paid search where results are impacted by a number of factors, including which vendors produce the best results for paid email, which search networks target the best-fit audience, and the amount of spend put behind campaigns compared to the revenue those campaigns bring in to the business.
  • An HR manager needs to analyze recruitment marketing and talent acquisition efforts to determine how well their recruitment teams succeed against workplace planning metrics. Beyond that, HR managers must track whether their recruitment efforts bring in the right employees, meaning those who have a measurable impact on the business and will stay with the business for a longer period of time.
  • An engineering manager can use data analytics to foster an environment of innovation within their Research and Development teams by discovering new areas to reduce cost and cut out inefficient processes. A data driven culture will reduce expenses and disrupt old ways of working, allowing R&D teams to better products and services.

How to set yourself apart

As data becomes more vital and sophisticated, managers need to follow suit with advanced learning and hands-on-experiences that enhances decisions analysis skills and develop a strategic perspective to business problems.

Students in Hofstra’s MBA in Business Analytics program have access to:

  • An executive board comprised of industry leaders from the New York Metro area who help them stay abreast of industry trends and provide mentoring and internship opportunities
  • Partnerships with the Cisco Networking Academy, SAP Academic Alliance, Oracle, and Microsoft, which allow them to gain first-hand experience of the latest software solutions
  • Dual degree BBA/MS programs and a five-year BBA/MBA, which save them a great degree of time and money while earning their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously
  • The Hofstra IT Association, a student group that sponsors many programs featuring guest speakers, interactive workshops, and tutoring opportunities

*New York metropolitan area labor market data retrieved from Burning Glass Technologies in July 2018.