KNOXVILLE — In Major League Baseball, big money can land big name recruits. But for small-market teams such as the Oakland A’s, other tactics may be needed to enlist talented players. Instead of relying on costly and perhaps untested measures used by scouts, the A’s recruited players by analyzing statistics from the players’ college performances.
The results were millions of dollars in savings and five trips to the playoffs.
This is the power of “business analytics.” It is the focus of a new Master of Science in Business Analytics degree that was launched this fall in the College of Business Administration’s Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
UT’s College of Business Administration is the first business school in the nation to offer this degree.
Students learn data analysis and quantitative modeling skills to solve business problems and achieve better business performance. Additionally, they gain knowledge of core business topics, develop communication skills, and solve team-based, real-world business problems.
Organizations are searching for employees that have strong analytical and business skills.
“That combination seems to be rare among today’s graduates, yet is in incredibly high demand,” said Ken Gilbert, head of the Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science. “Graduates who understand business analytics and have strong business and leadership skills have excellent job opportunities.”
In fact, a 2009 online survey of 75 corporations in 27 different industries conducted by Dobson Analytics Inc. found that, on average, these corporations expected to almost double the current size of their analytics staff within the next two years.
One company optimistic that the UT program could produce prospective new employees is dunnhumbyUSA, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company is a leader in using data to understand organizations and build customer loyalty.
“The key to growing a business is through building customer loyalty, and the best way to understand customers is by analyzing their behaviors,” said Dennis Goodman, dunnhumbyUSA analysis director and a UT statistics alum. “UT’s graduates bring to dunnhumbyUSA a strong statistical and business acumen; they therefore contribute to our success very quickly. With the new business analytics program graduating employees who will impact our organization even faster, UT will remain a target school for enabling our growth.”
Representatives from dunnhumbyUSA will be on the UT Knoxville campus Sept. 16-17 to recruit business analytics students with plans to hire 25 additional people in the area.
UT’s business analytics programs are offered several ways: as a single MS degree; a proposed dual-degree MS/MBA with UT’s full-time MBA program; and, for MBA students not wanting to earn the MS but who are interested in the subject matter, a concentration in business analytics. Plans for an undergraduate degree in business analytics are under way for the 2011-2012 academic year.
“We know of no other school in the nation providing this scope of business analytics offerings,” said Jan Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Strengthening our graduates’ proficiency in business analytics is one of the college’s four strategic initiatives.”
The business analytics program encompasses four overlapping areas:
Data mining: uncovering information from a company’s database of historical records to discover trends, predict consumer behavior, etc.
Business Process Optimization: understanding and simplifying complex business decisions and processes
Applied Business Statistics: collecting and analyzing data to gain business insights
Business Intelligence: providing decision-makers with real-time information for making decisions
Business analytics is attractive to quantitatively oriented students who want to develop skills in solving business problems. Most likely, these students have either a technical undergraduate degree or have good analytical and quantitative skills.
“We are committed to having our business analytics programs be the best in the nation,” said Gilbert.
In most universities, statistics is housed in the college of arts and sciences; UT Knoxville is one of the few schools to recognize the power of statistics in business applications. The 2009 Rothkopf rankings support this finding, placing UT’s Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science among the top 20 programs worldwide in the field.
For more information about the program, please visit http://bus.utk.edu/soms/analytics/index.htm.
For more information about the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, visit http://bus.utk.edu.
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