All over the world, businesses and organizations are swimming in enormous amounts of data. This forces thousands of organizations to find new ways to collect, curate, visualize, and analyze data. To meet the growing demand of analytical skills and talent, faculty at the Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business are designing tech-empowered experiential learning initiatives to bridge the disconnect between the demands of the real world and the higher education system.
In winter 2016, we piloted a new project-based elective course, “Data Analysis and Decision-Making,” to introduce students to the fast-growing field of business analytics. The emphasis was placed on creating data stories and the use of analytical software to transform the way students think about data and the information-driven world in which they live.
We observed that sometimes highly quantitative subjects can be tedious and overwhelming if students are required to perform meaningless intellectual gymnastics in a traditional classroom environment.
To engage Berkeley College undergraduate students with real-world challenges while introducing them to the world of applied analytics, the class participated in a consulting project for the B4P Foundation.
New Types of Collaborations Create Strategic Opportunities
The B4P Foundation is an organization that aims to promote sustainable development in challenged regions by supporting businesses of peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts entering new markets, contributing to economic prosperity and creating hope – the building blocks of long-lasting peace. These new markets are often outside the comfort zone of many decision-makers who steer investments and market orientation.
To make such strategic decisions to engage in new markets full of opportunities, but also many uncertainties, businesses need data that can be derived and explained through modern analytics decision-support tools designed with a deep understanding of the business factors that really matter.
The Berkeley College students’ consulting project aimed to apply analytics and data science to develop a proof of concept and a working prototype of a decision-support tool that would empower businesses to implement sustainable development goals. Thus, the objective was not just to apply tools and methods that analyze complex data or create a new data model, but also to provide data-driven information that facilitates conscious and informed decision-making.
To enable the visual analytics needed for the project, we leveraged Tableau software. Tableau is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for the fifth consecutive year. As a part of their Academic Program, Tableau provided us with student licenses of the software, business analytics curriculum material and innovative resources.
(Next page: A systemic approach; hands-on methods for analytics)