Tippie Speaker
June 9, 2015
Tom Snee

The Tippie College of Business will begin offering a new certificate program in business analytics in Des Moines starting this fall, providing an opportunity for advanced study in a rapidly growing field.

The new program is one of several the college is rolling out in response to the economy’s growing demand for experts in business analytics.

“Many of the businesses that are most in need of experts in analytics are in fields like insurance, financial services, and health care,” says Nick Street, professor and departmental executive officer of management sciences in the Tippie College of Business who developed and oversees the two offerings. “Those fields are also at the heart of the Des Moines economy, so this program will respond to a growing need among employers in the region.”

Des Moines business leaders agree, and say the certificate program is vitally needed in the area.

“We have tons and tons of data gathered over more than 100 years, and we needed people to take that data and make sense of it and turn it into information that we can use to create the financial products that our customers need,” says Terry Lillis, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Principal Financial Group. “I know a lot of our employees at The Principal could benefit from a program like this, and Des Moines has a huge need for it.”

“The way we deliver more to our customers is by understanding what they want and need from our stores, and with a robust business analytics practice, we’re able to take data and transform it into actionable insights,” says Kyle Krause, president and CEO of Kum & Go. “But that also depends on a having a pool of talented professionals highly educated in business analytics from which to hire.”

The coursework 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 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.

This Big Data is also becoming big business. The U.S. Department of Labor expects 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.

A study by Iowa Workforce Development shows that jobs requiring knowledge of analytics will be among the fastest growing in the coming decade. The consulting firm McKinsey says the United States faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on data analysis.

Students will take five classes for the certificate that will be taught in the John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center in downtown Des Moines. The instructors will be Tippie’s current faculty, mostly from the Department of Management Sciences who are international leaders in the fields of descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics.

The new program is just one that is being offered by the Tippie College in response to employers’ demands for experts in business analytics. The university also offers an undergraduate major in business analytics and started the graduate certificate program in Cedar Rapids last fall. A master’s program in business analytics will also be offered in Cedar Rapids starting in the fall. The Full-time MBA Program also has a new formalized concentration in business 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 up to three predetermined courses in the other and apply them toward their degree.