– Peter Sondergaard
Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, Inc.
At a technological university, you’d expect LTU to not only respond to current technological trends but be a trendsetter. And LTU doesn’t disappoint. In the College of Business and Information Technology, data science taught by experts in the field, continues to grow at a fast pace. One of the most recent programs to be offered on both the Master’s and Bachelor’s degree levels is Business Data Analytics. Information, in other words, data, for it to be of value, must be analyzed. It is then that the data can tell a story. As author Dan Heath says, “Data are just summaries of thousands of stories—tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.”
Dr. Areej Salaymeh and Dr. Seyed Ziae Mousavi Mojab headed the committee to design Business Data Analytics as a stand-alone Master’s degree (MSBDA) and Bachelor’s degree (BSBDA), which launched in September of 2022. Designed to be delivered to students in the most flexible way possible, part-time and full-time students can take courses in person, online, or a combination of both.
The Business Data Analytics program is growing quickly, responding to a high market demand for technology workers with data analytical skills. Salaymeh said, “Glassdoor says there are 380,000 open data analyst positions in the U.S. alone. And the salaries are commensurate with the demand.” Without any experience, the average annual salary reported by Glassdoor is $70,000; with two years of experience, $100,000; and with five years’ experience $115,000. Data analysts can work in any industry, any profession: business, finance, marketing, law, health care, the arts, and science.
“Data analysts do play a critical role in interpreting data and generating insights that can help organizations make informed decisions,” she said. “Businesses, for example, will use these analyses to make faster and better business decisions, identify areas for improvement, optimize processes, and make strategic investments. Data analysis also enables businesses to track customer behavior and preferences, which can inform marketing strategies and improve customer satisfaction, which can lower costs or increase profits.”
Mojab explained the birth of business data analytics as a logical and necessary outgrowth of big data. “We recognize that data analysis is not just about crunching numbers, but also about making responsible decisions. That's why we integrate ethics into our teaching of data analysis, covering topics such as protecting consumers' privacy and using data in ways that benefit, rather than harm, consumers. Our teaching of data analysis encompasses both technical proficiency and ethical responsibility.”
BDA coursework is intensely technical as students learn all aspects of gathering, transforming, analyzing, and presenting data. Data analytics involves using machine learning tools, Python programming language, Tableau software to visualize the data, and strong analytical skills to look for trends and patterns and to interpret what the data is saying.
Amit Somani is an MSBDA student who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and is a Project Cost Manager for Stellantis. He selected Lawrence Tech from among several other universities offering a Business Data Analytics degree. Somani said, “I did my research. LTU gives me the hands-on experience I wanted. Class sizes aren’t that big, which is a big advantage with LTU. The professors are very accessible to their students, and they’re engaged in cutting- edge research in this field.
“In the work that I do, I realized that data was king. It’s everywhere. I needed to understand it better. Did you know that there are 50 or 60 different steering wheels? How do you narrow the number of options without analyzing the data? One analysis can save the company thousands of dollars,” he said.
Mojab acknowledges that "our responsibilities are not limited to IT, as we are primarily business analysts. Our work involves analyzing and optimizing business processes across various sectors, including non-profit organizations, universities, hospitals, and art galleries. We leverage IT tools to enhance business performance and achieve better outcomes."
His colleague heartily agrees. “We as data scientists appreciate the science of working in data but its end is the betterment of our society,” said Salaymeh.
by Renée Ahee