Cal Poly’s information systems concentration has pioneered a new course in business analytics as a response to growing industry demand for data analysts in all industries. The undergraduate course was developed by associate information systems professor Leida Chen, a former senior program manager of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific research and development team. Unlike a statistics or computer science course, the business analytics course delved into mining, preparing and analyzing different types of data to tell a story and influence specific business decisions.
“There was lots of interest in this business analytics course because students understand that this is where the jobs are,” said Chen.
Chen also says the class teaches students to work with key data platforms including Microsoft SQL Server, SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Enterprise Miner. The course gave students hands-on experience with different types of data for both reactive and predictive analysis. The course also taught students about visualizing data appropriately to effectively present findings to a business in any sector.
The new course is part of the Orfalea College of Business’ effort to infuse data analysis into a variety of areas of study. In addition to new undergraduate courses, the college will soon launch a professional certificate in business analytics through a series of five courses including similar information systems courses and new marketing analytics and social media courses. In 2016, the college aims to debut a one-year Master of Science degree in business analytics program as well.