In response to the growing demand for analytics professionals, not only in Australia but worldwide, Melbourne Business School (MBS) begun teaching the Master of Business Analytics.
Program director, Jennifer George, speaks further about this growing demand and the launch of the new program at MBS:
Why has Melbourne Business School decided to launch the Master in Business Analytics?
We have always believed strongly in evidence-based decision making and analytics is a critical part of that. But the reason for launching now is the urgent need that many of our closest organisational supporters have for well-trained analytics professionals.
What is driving the growing interest in business analytics in both the academic and business world?
It's being driven by the availability of data and easier (and cheaper) ways to collect data through automated rather than survey methods. The quality and quantity of data now available to many businesses means that those organisations who are not considering how to use it effectively are giving away a huge competitive advantage to their rivals. Most executives are aware of this but are also conscious that they and their organisations are on a steep learning curve. This is fuelling a lot of interest in business analytics.
What effect has data analytics had on the jobs market for business school graduates?
In Australia we are still seeing different markets for general business graduates and for business analytics graduates. There are distinct and specialised jobs available in analytics and these are quite difficult to fill because of the lack of graduates coming onto the market with those skills. In the longer term we expect to see all business school graduates being expected to be familiar with analytics and, if not always capable of doing everything themselves, then at least including analytics in their toolkit in the same kind of way that all graduates are expected to have basic accounting, marketing and finance expertise.
Many business schools already offer data analytics electives or optional courses. Is that not sufficient?
No. It's good that business school programs offer electives in this area - we have electives in our MBA program too. All business leaders need exposure to analytics. But effective business analytics requires a level of mathematical training that can't be taught in one or two courses. Our analytics degree requires extensive quantitative preparation from prior study and then is 12 months of intensive specialist training on top of that. Even with all this study, I expect that our students will feel like there is plenty more to learn.
Can specialist data degrees compete with MBAs?
Specialist degrees don't compete with MBAs because they are aimed at different audiences (pre-experience masters as opposed to post-experience MBA) and also because they are designed to produce different skill sets. The analytics degree is not a general business degree - it is highly specialised and focused on producing graduates with sophisticated mathematical, statistical and computing skills. It is a business degree because we also train these specialists to understand the business context and contribute to strategic discussions.
The Master of Business Analytics at Melbourne Business School is a one year, full-time intensive program with the next intake in January 2016. For more information visit mbs.edu/mbusa.