Data Is Still Important, Analyst Demand High

Although it's not "the new kid on the block" any more, big data is still one of the most powerful tools for businesses, both large and small. Data intelligence (DI), or analyzing big data, is important for legacy corporations like Kraft Foods and for startup companies alike.

The fact that the topic isn't creating the buzz it did a few years ago is testimony to how the field has matured and become a standard part of business operations for successful and forward-thinking companies.

Not too long ago, risk management was the only department where companies routinely used data analysis. Today, operations, sales, marketing and finance are among the areas where data analysts practice their science.

This variety gives graduates with a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Data Analytics plenty of career choices. It is also keeping demand for data analysis professionals high. Here are some examples of how companies are using data analysis today.

Data Analysis Lowers Operational Costs

A Florida-based distribution center was having a lot of problems with its forklifts damaging cargo and couldn't seem to find any logical reason. The company was using a hardware and software package that tracked the movements of its forklifts and captured impacts. They decided to bring in additional data that reflected conditions inside their warehouse and see if they could find any correlations between it and the impacts registered by their forklifts.

Data analysts found that the incidents of cargo damage due to forklifts corresponded to days of high humidity. With this information, the company set a "humidity" threshold. Whenever that threshold is reached, forklift operators are required to reduce their maximum speed. This solved the problem and saved the company money.

Healthcare, Wearable Tech and DI

The ability to accurately predict which patients are more likely to experience complications after a procedure or an illness can save lives and money. Not every patient needs the same schedule of follow-up visits to the doctor's office. The difficulty is knowing which patients would benefit from increased care.

The data analysis professionals at Geneia, a health care technology and consulting company, are working to use clinical information, medical records and data collected from wearable technology to create a system that will ensure providers take the proper medical actions at the right time with the right patients, eliminating unnecessary procedures. The wearable tech takes a patient's vital signs and records EKG readings.

The data sets that enable the creation of a system like this are huge and spread across a wide range of databases. Pulling them together requires experienced professionals, including those with an MBA in Data Analytics.

Business Intelligence Strategy for a Global Corporation

Kraft Foods is the world's second largest food company and employs 125,000 people around the globe. It's not always easy to get such a large organization to change. However, because of the huge savings associated with leveraging business intelligence (BI), the company has put a major emphasis on strategies that get BI adopted more quickly.

The company has a wealth of data in its ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, but it was difficult for users to drill down efficiently to see issues and business trends. Working together with SAP -- who provides their ERP system -- Kraft Foods is making the data more accessible.

"We needed to produce the types of reports that help people make business decisions," explained Mike Walsh, Associate Director of Business Intelligence at Kraft. Among the steps the company took to get that done was to "create a centralized, dedicated group to develop the BI solutions and bring them to production."

This centralized group then works with the company's local BI groups so they can implement the data analysis solutions and start realizing the efficiencies and savings more quickly.

Data Analytics in a Retail Setting

Many retailers are using radio frequency identification, near field communications, and beacon technologies to study the shopping habits and patterns of customers. The goal is to analyze the data collected to enhance the shopping experience, connect it to online content and increase sales in brick-and-mortar locations. Among the retailers active in this emerging DI area are Burberry, Harvey Nichols and Made.com.

For graduates with an online MBA in Data Analytics, there are many opportunities similar to these, and of course, if you want to start your own company, you'll find many ways to use data to your advantage.

Learn more about the USI online MBA with a concentration in Data Analytics.


Sources:

DC Velocity: Big Surpises from "Big Data"

Enterprise Apps Today: 4 Data Analytics Success Stories

SAP Insider: Kraft Foods' Recipe for Successful Business Intelligence

TechTarget: Ten Analytics Success Stories in a Nutshell

Econsultancy: Five Retailers Using NFC and RFID to Enhance Shopping: But Do They Work?

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