ITProPortal spoke to Anabel Gutierrez, lecturer of business and management at Regent's University London, about the organisation's first year of integrating data analytics into its postgraduate business courses.
"We're delivering business courses, but we want to overlap all of the technology and analytics skills over the top of this," Gutierrez said. "That means that when students graduate they can approach business problems from a data perspective."
"We want to integrate in each module the overlapping knowledge of technology, analytics and marketing, because they come together."
So what have been the largest challenges to setting up such an ambitious programme?
"One of the main problems is that students still don't know clearly what analytics is. That's the main problem," Gutierrez told us. "They're not looking for analytics courses yet, because they don't know the potential of this. The other thing is that it sounds very technical, and people can be daunted by the idea of studying statistics and all of that."
But it hasn't all been uphill, Gutierrez told us.
"On the other hand," she said, "our students are very used to technology. We want to take advantage of that and show them that they are producing big data in their everyday lives."
"They need to understand how to extract good knowledge and information from all that data," Gutierrez said. "That's one of the things they need to recognise."
"You don't have to calculate manually – that's the most important thing to realise. SAS, for instance, has a user-friendly interface that allows the end-users to play with data, to start exploring data, and discover what's happening in there. And they don't have to do all of the maths – they just have to learn how to use the tools. Those are the skills we want to teach our students."
So no maths at all?
"Yes, they need a grounding in statistics," Gutierrez said. "But they don't have to do the calculations all the time. That's what the tools are for."
So is it hard to keep the course up to date when there are so many developments happening so quickly in the world of analytics?
"You have to move as fast as possible," Gutierrez said. "We've been observing this trend for many years, so it's not as if we're just starting now."
So can anyone do analytics? Gutierrez thought about this question for a little while.
"That's an interesting question," she said. "Yes. I think yes – anyone who is curious enough to discover things can do analytics."