In response to a world in which data analytics will play a major role, the department developed a new Master of Science program in Business Analytics.
The program was designed by three MSU colleges – Broad, Engineering, and Natural Science, with courses designed and taught in business strategy, data mining, applied statistics, project management, marketing technologies, communications and ethics.
Business faculty, students, and practitioners collaborate to create the experiential centerpiece of the program. Corporate-sponsored projects offer students the opportunity to work on data sets and real-world problems arranged with corporate and faculty support. In addition to the technical skills they acquire in the classroom, students apply analytics findings to business challenges, observe best practices for communicating data-driven findings to business decision makers, and gain first-hand insight into how businesses use data to make critical decisions.
An early success was an experiential project in collaboration with GM and IBM, in which students analyzed real data from GM using IBM technology and expertise to determine what drives customer-owner satisfaction. Enhanced by weekly conversations and site visits, students quickly learned how to think like GM employees and understand the company culture while defining what the complex data set meant to GM. Along with number crunching to try to make sense of the unstructured data, students learned how to interact with managers, be responsive to clients, and make persuasive presentations of their results. Some of these comments testify to the value of the experiential projects and the critical role of collaboration among the department’s key stakeholders.
As Rattana Srijedsadarek, one of the first students in the program, remarked, “Practice makes perfect. I talked to teammates more frequently than I talked to my sister. I loved brainstorming moments most. Weekly conversations and on-site presentations with GM and IBM also taught me how to manage client’s expectations and how to satisfy them.”