Michigan State University will host a conference on October 4 that focuses on the growing field of big data analysis and how it is shaping the future.

“Analytics 2013: The Face of Analytics,” to be held 1–5 p.m. at the MSU James B. Henry Center for Executive Education in Lansing, is free and open to the public. Events include a panel of analytics experts, career fair, and information session about the master’s in analytics program at MSU. It is the latest in an ongoing series of conferences about issues in business analytics sponsored by the Broad College of Business.

The career fair from 1–2 p.m. and the panel discussion that follows from 2–4 p.m. will feature analytics professionals from Google, The Weather Channel, IBM, J.D. Power, Kellogg Company, GM, and other companies. The panel will discuss their roles in their organizations, how they use data to answer key questions, and how to prepare for a career as a data scientist.

“Business analytics is a growing field with many diverse opportunities,” stated Cheri Speier-Pero, faculty director of the business analytics program and professor of accounting and information systems.

In fact, a 2011 McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that 140,000–190,000 more data analysts and 1.5 million more data-savvy executives are needed “to take full advantage of big data in the United States.”

“Big data as a field can seem abstract and nebulous,” explained Speier-Pero. “Our goal with this conference is to share the human faces and stories of analytics professionals. These panelists come from a variety of backgrounds and have taken different paths to the field. Likewise, we hope that a diverse set of students and professionals will see how their unique combinations of skills could fit into this field—and what experiences might help them to make that leap.”

At 4 p.m., there will be an information session about MSU’s master of science in business analytics. The one-year program, launched in January 2013, gives students an opportunity to prepare for careers in data analysis and management. It features hands-on data projects each semester in partnership with a variety of companies. The program offers courses in project management, data mining, marketing technology, statistics, and computer programming for analytics.

To learn more about the conference and register, visit broad.msu.edu/businessanalytics or www.faceofanalytics.eventbrite.com.