Business Analytics Program in Cedar Rapids
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Tom Snee

Starting in the fall, Tippie will offer a Master of Science program in Business Analytics, to be offered at the college’s Cedar Rapids facility. The new program will join existing programs that offer an undergraduate major in business analytics, an MBA program focusing on business analytics, and a graduate certificate program in business analytics.

The program will help students learn to manage vast amounts of data, teasing out what secrets it holds, and then using that information to strengthen their businesses. While companies have relied on using statistics for years to make business decisions, improved data gathering and storage methods give them reams of information they can mine and manipulate to unearth revelations that raw numbers can’t provide.

And data that can help business gain an edge is gathered virtually everywhere today. Credit card companies track purchases to see where their customers shop and what they buy; retailers use loyalty cards to send coupons based on a customer’s purchase history. Companies use radio-frequency identification tags that track products to design more efficient supply chains, and websites track click-throughs to figure out the best way to advertise online.

There’s also big business to be had in this so-called Big Data. The U.S. Department of Labor expects a 25 percent growth in the need for workers trained in business analytics through 2018, while surveys consistently show data management is one of the top priorities of businesses.

“Talent is biggest obstacle to adopting analytics,” read a recent report on the topic by Deloitte Consulting. “Forty two percent of business executives say they don’t have the number of people or skill levels needed.”

The new Tippie program will serve working professionals through part-time classes available in evenings. Ten classes will be required for the master’s degree, which can be taken in addition to the five classes that are currently needed for the certificate. The program will first be offered in Cedar Rapids, but later expand to Tippie’s locations in Iowa City, Davenport/Quad Cities, and Des Moines. The classes will be taught by Tippie’s current faculty, mostly from the Business Analytics department who are international leaders in the fields of descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics.

The University of Iowa has also entered into an agreement with Iowa State University whereby students in either of the school’s graduate programs in data analytics can take a certain number of courses in the other and apply them to their home school.

The analytics certificate program had 40 applicants and 28 enrolled students for its first session in the fall, both of which exceeded expectations.