Business intelligence now more valuable to employers

Screenshot of KNIME

Converting raw data into information that managers can use to make decisions is becoming increasingly important. Image via Wikipedia

A shift in the world of marketing has led to a new appreciation for the analysis of data.

A report in The Wall Street Journal, “Business Schools Plan Leap Into Data,” discusses an emerging trend among graduate and undergraduate business schools to add classes, certificates and degrees geared specifically toward business intelligence, or data analytics.

The article says that as the use of analytics grows, companies will need employees who understand the data. The authors cited a study that found that by 2018, the United States will face a shortage of 1.5 million managers who can use data to shape business decisions.

“Analytics is certainly in the Top 5 things [executives] are worried about and investing in actively,” said Scott Gnau, president of Teradata’s Teradata Labs, told The Wall Street Journal. “Industry is going to demand it. Students are going to demand it.”

Kim Ruggiero, a Cohort 7 graduate of the Stetson University Executive MBA program, said she has witnessed firsthand the business world placing more value on the ability to decipher the numbers.

“Data analysis is vital, especially in the social media space, because as a marketer you need to know who to message to, what to message and how much to message,” explained Ruggiero, an associate marketing manager at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Digital tactics such as online advertising, QR codes, website activity and social media sites are much easier to track than traditional media like radio and TV. It allows us to determine which tactics performed well and what the level of engagement was among our consumers to help influence decisions in the future.”

One of Ruggiero’s classmates, Darcy Clark, agrees. “Data is critical,” said Clark, who works in digital marketing at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “I use data on a daily basis, most often as it relates to our social media and Facebook strategies. We can measure the impact of a particular post and tell how many people engaged with the content, how many clicked through to get more information and how many ultimately purchased (if it was tied to an offer).”

Clark added that many people in her organization are tasked solely with data analysis, each working on a different piece of the puzzle. “It’s that important,” she emphasized.

But as much as data analysis is key in the marketing field, both Ruggiero and Clark say they believe most business schools don’t prepare students for the practical uses of data analysis.

“The base knowledge we gained from the Stetson Executive MBA program set the foundation for later learning that can only occur on the job,” said Clark.

Students in the Stetson Executive MBA program take several classes that focus on the subject, including Fundamental Statistical Management Techniques, Marketing Concepts and Analysis, Managerial Decision Analysis and Marketing Decision Making.

“Dr. Ted Surynt’s and Dr. Ram Subramanian’s classes were great in opening up my mind to think creatively about how all the pieces of a puzzle fit together,” added Clark. “That is critical when you’re looking at numbers and data and how those things fit into the larger marketing and overall business picture.”

Executive MBA offers insight, perspective

Articles that explain what an Executive MBA is often focus on how entering a program is an investment in your future, or how it’s an opportunity for a professional to work and go to school at the same time, or how you will gain a competitive edge over your peers.

An Executive MBA classroom serves as an incubator for real-world experience and business thought leadership.

But for Aaron Wright, the experience was much more.

“I look at the way I work differently and with more insight,” said Wright, who is a graduate of the Stetson Executive MBA Cohort 7. “I listen a lot more and try to understand everyone’s point of view before expressing my own opinion or offering advice. I contribute more and can provide a perspective that wasn’t there before getting my MBA.

One of Wright’s classmates, Penny Miller, agreed, and said that the program taught her different ways of seeing the world. “I knew before end of first year how much had changed for me and the way I think and balance and juggle,” said Miller, who works as an HR business partner.

In general, Executive MBA programs attract a diverse group of professionals who want to expand their knowledge and skills. Many use their degree to enter a new field or gain expertise in a new area. Most students have at least 10 years of professional experience under their belts by the time they enter a program, with a significant portion of this experience at the managerial level. (Traditional MBA students usually average three to five years of work experience.)

An Executive MBA helps move along a student’s or graduate’s career. Susan Golinsky, another classmate of Wright’s, said the pursuit of her education at Stetson helped her get ahead of her colleagues. “The fact that I was in school helped differentiate me from others who were applying for jobs,” said Golinsky, “because I was balancing a full-time job and school. I got some promotions that I believe were attributed to my increased business acumen from the Executive MBA program.” Golinsky said the program was a confidence builder, and she learned an incredible amount from her professors and from members of her cohort.

A powerful feature of a typical Executive MBA program is the collective professional experience of its participants. This feature greatly enriches the educational environment, and a team approach is often used on projects that encourage the sharing of diverse perspectives on specific topics.

“My education has allowed me to better understand everyone’s motivations within a project or team environment,” explained Wright. “Where I was previously financially weak, I am now strong enough to ask tough targeted questions to ensure that my partners and clients are all able to accomplish their goals.

Members of an Executive MBA cohort learn from each other and form a professional network that can last throughout the graduates' careers.

“The cohort style of learning and phenomenal support from faculty and staff was the most important highlight for me,” Wright continued. “My experience felt like ‘service-oriented learning.’ We got such great support on a daily basis that it allowed us to focus on a rigorous curriculum and course of study. This really sets Stetson apart from other programs, and I am much better for it.

Many students say they are often able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it immediately to their current job. Lofton Barnes, a student in the Stetson Executive MBA Cohort 8, is a perfect example.

“The transfer of knowledge is extremely fast,” said Barnes, who co-owns Ladybird Academy in Winter Springs/Oviedo, Fla. “The concepts that we’re learning I can go play with immediately. I can tell a difference already, many months before I graduate.

The Executive MBA is much more than a classroom with a highly educated professor, a textbook and students. The Executive MBA classroom is home to discussion among highly engaged professionals with a facilitator who has real-world experience. It is a place for managers from diverse businesses to work side-by-side throughout the program. Students learn from other students not by chance; it’s woven by design into the very fabric of the program.

Other direct, practical benefits of an Executive MBA program include:

  • Increased confidence and motivation
  • Ability to identify and apply best practice
  • Improved critical thinking skills
  • Clear understanding of the theory behind best practice
  • Greater ability to lead a team and to work within a team
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Incisive and durable competitive edge

Learn more about Executive MBA programs at the Executive MBA Council, The Princeton Review and the Graduate Management Admission Council. Learn more about the Stetson Executive MBA program here.