A new wave of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) systems is having a huge impact on business analytics by enhancing the speed, accuracy, and depth of data analysis. These “generative” AI systems such as ChatGPT can enhance business analytics by providing an intuitive and conversational interface to interact and analyze data to solve business problems.
As such, they’re igniting fresh interest in the discipline of business analytics, already a hugely popular field of study at business school. Many world-leading institutions run masters programs in business analytics, which equip students with the skills, knowledge, and practical experience to excel in a data-driven business environment.
Such schools are refreshing the syllabus, so students can meet today’s rapidly evolving needs. The curriculum now covers topics including generative AI systems, so that candidates learn how to leverage these emerging technologies to drive data-driven business decisions.
Ram Gopal, professor of information systems management at Warwick Business School in the UK, says: “One positive is that many tasks like data cleaning, data preparation, and visualization can now be conducted more effectively through generative AI systems. This will enable business analytics professionals to outsource more mundane tasks to generative AI and focus on more interesting, creative tasks and activities to help customers.”
Warwick’s MSc Business Analytics program is already adapting, both in terms of curricula and pedagogy, to keep pace with the rapid progress of generative AI systems. “I am currently teaching a module on text analytics,” says Gopal. Text analytics enables businesses to leverage the vast amount of unstructured text data available today -- from social media posts, online reviews, and so on -- to gain intelligence and make informed strategic choices.
The Robert H. Smith School of Business, at the University of Maryland in the US, is also adapting its MS in Business Analytics program to ensure students are prepared to enter an AI-driven work environment. In the “Big Data and AI” course, the school encourages faculty to have a discussion on these emerging technologies to provide a reasonable grounding.
“There are also co-curricular activities, workshops, guest speakers and virtual conferences, through which students are getting more exposure to these topics. AI will only continue to grow – we need to make sure our students are prepared for it,” says Suresh Acharya, professor of practice and academic director for Smith’s master’s program.
Additionally, the excitement around the possibilities of generative AI appears to have boosted already-high interest in studying business analytics at the masters level. “The demand for our MS in Business Analytics continues to be robust. Our students are getting internship offers that have turned into job offers. We have had students receive multiple offers, as well,” Acharya says.
It's a similar story at New York University’s Stern School of Business, with demand remaining strong for Stern’s one-year, part-time MS in Business Analytics Program, which is designed for working professionals.
“In recent years, we are seeing a wider range of industry backgrounds and experience levels from students, which demonstrates the broad appeal and relevancy of business analytics across fields and functions,” says professor Anindya Ghose, academic director of Stern’s MS in Business Analytics Program.
“Professionals come to our program from a variety of industries, including financial services, consulting, information technology, healthcare, retail, education, government, and more.”
Those students learn to translate data into information that empowers them to improve decision-making. “The curriculum is focused on causal inference – why did this happen and how will it impact the future – and homes in on three core areas: data engineering, data analytics, and data interpretation,” says Ghose. “We constantly update our curriculum to ensure students have the most up-to-date skills needed to succeed in this field, which is expanding faster than ever before.”
Business analytics offers promising career prospects. With a master's degree in the field, you can qualify for roles such as data analyst, business intelligence analyst, data scientist, data engineer, or analytics consultant. These positions often come with competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement.
Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) runs Business Analytics MSc program, based in London. “We are seeing an increase in demand for the skills that the students from the program graduate with, as analytics skills are being required across nearly all industries in some way, shape or form,” says Michelle Fairbank, MSc careers relationship manager at Bayes.
“We have had great employment from the program for the last couple of years with 93.8 percent of survey respondents being employed about 3 months after finishing the course. We are also seeing our alumni move into a wider range of industries,” she adds. Business analytics skills are applicable across finance, marketing, operations, healthcare, or any other field.
“Demand for graduates with technical skills in analyzing complex data sets, as well as strong business acumen, far exceeds supply,” says Nursen Aydin, course director for the MSc Business Analytics at Warwick. “The career prospects for our graduates are very good and 88 percent of them are in full-time employment six months after graduating, at the world’s top companies such as Google, Amazon, McKinsey and Goldman Sachs,” she adds.
“Most go into consulting, technology, or financial services as data analysts, data scientists, business analysts, senior consultants, or risk analysts. Any position that requires crunching data provides an opportunity for our graduates and, with the amount of data being produced growing every year, the skills learnt on the course are going to be more and more in demand.”