Analytics and an MBA: The Ideal Partnership

MBA: Power & Responsibility

In today’s corporate environment, an MBA is one of the biggest assets you can have. It opens doors and provides you with new avenues to grow your career. It also gives you early access to positions of power.

But like the famous movie quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” the higher you go up the career ladder, the more impact your decisions have. You can’t afford to make a wrong decision when there’s a lot riding on the line. With analytics as their driving force, businesses can chart a lucrative and truly sustainable course for themselves.

Xerox used data science to reduce employee attrition by 20%. They used analytics to find the right hires and the right way to keep them happy.

The world of data driven business is here.

Data Driven Business

War is ninety percent information.

 – Napoleon Bonaparte, French Military and Political Leader

Today, information is everything. Everywhere, everyone is collecting information about every aspect of business. Businesses record information on sales, performance, operations, marketing and more. The volume and velocity of this data is so huge that it overwhelms the time starved managers.

Managers cope with this tsunami of data in one of two ways: ignore or dashboard. Some managers prefer to go back to the ‘good old days’ and do everything by the gut. Other well-meaning souls use dashboards. Either way, they are running blind.

Some companies fare better. They collect data and ask the right questions. Greig Aitken, the head of human capital strategy at The Royal Bank of Scotland, says “We don’t talk about data – anyone can deliver a spreadsheet – it’s all about insight, providing insight that enables more informed people decisions that solve business issues.”

Greig’s statement has particular relevance in this scenario of the consumer banking division. They had a number of branches with a wide variance in performance metrics between the highest and lowest performing branches. They could have stopped there and recommended corrective action for the under-performing branches.

But they didn’t. They delved in deeper to understand the reasons behind it – by analysing the data. They discovered that there was a strong correlation between the leadership and engagement scores. They also learned that it was worthwhile to invest in the performance management and career development of these branch managers.

Consider the difference: Without analytics, a few managers would have ended up with some remedial action. The bank’s performance would have been unaffected – or worse – declined. When the decision makers turned to analytics, they were able to isolate the root cause by analysing the data. By combining the insights from analytics with the business practices taught by the MBA, they were able to recommend a suitable development plan to improve the branch managers’ performance.

In any industry, going back is not an option in today’s hyper competitive environment. Unfortunately, reliance on dashboards is only a stop gap solution. Dashboards only display a sliver of the data that’s available. Basing your decisions on this can have disastrous consequences.

Getting on board with Analytics

A person who is gifted sees the essential point and leaves the rest as surplus.

– Thomas Carlyle, Scottish Writer

The traditional business school curriculum may not have covered the concepts of data science. But, it is a critical tool in every MBA graduate’s arsenal. They need to be comfortable with getting their hands dirty and analysing data. They need to be able to collect, analyse and interpret the data. They need to be self-reliant, have confidence in their judgement, and know the value that can be derived from data-driven decisions.

Today, business schools are scrambling to integrate analytics training into their curriculum. Their aim behind this move is to make their graduates industry ready. In parallel, students who can analyse data are alluring to prospective employers. This is why MBA students and graduates need to learn analytics.

Data driven decisions: Why bother?

Data driven decisions are better decisions. One reason for that is the number of parameters you can rope in to decision making. An analytics engine can factor in hundreds or thousands of parameters into a decision. As humans, we could muster maybe ten to fifteen at the most!

Consider the example of Tesco, a British supermarket chain. Historically, the retail giant is renowned for using technology to beef up its CRM. For example, they offer shoppers product recommendations through a custom device on the trolley, in real-time. To implement the innovations via human effort, Tesco would need a personal shopping assistant who could go around with the shopper and recommend products and predefined deals. The experience and accuracy would be subpar.

Instead, they implemented a data driven marketing system that leveraged an analytical engine to deliver personalized offers in real time. This system leveraged scores of parameters before making a recommendation – items in cart, time of day, shopper profile, artificial intelligence and more. All these are beyond what a human could ever match.

When it comes to data driven decisions, another factor to consider is human bias.. We tend to believe what happened before will happen again. We suffer from the gambler’s fallacy. Our psyche is fraught with a whole host of other impediments that will affect our decision.

Data driven decisions can remove human error. They also help the business grow. Quicker, more accurate decisions add up over time into a robust competitive advantage. With enough resources, companies can shift from reactive analytics to a predictive mode. With predictive analytics, companies can avert problems before they happen. This compounds the strategic advantage these companies have.

Telstra, an Australian telco, uses data science and big data to improve their business. They use a predictive analytics system with their operational data. This helps them identify network issues before they occur. This system also uses an automated decision making system to close the loop. This predictive approach surpasses their older reactive system for risk management in all aspects.

An MBA teaches you how to take business decisions to bring in the most profit, in terms of both growth and revenue. Supplementing that with a deep understanding of analytics makes those decisions far more accurate and a step towards the right direction. The importance and adoption of analytics is quite evident to all by now, and clubbing that with the management knowledge instilled by the MBA finds you the sweet spot of success.

At a personal level, MBA graduates can benefit by mastering data science. Many companies like and want candidates skilled in data science. Data science provides new opportunities that did not exist before. It opens up doors for MBA graduates to work with good, interesting clients as well. Finally, data science enables you to do the work that matters. The time has never been more right to embrace analytics and MBA graduates have everything to gain from being able to make their decisions data driven.

UNext Can Help

“UNext did not stop at training– they helped me highlight my analytics skills in my resume, coached me for job interviews, and even facilitated some interviews. This extensive preparation helped me bag my dream job at IMRB during campus placements.”

– Nakul Dogra, UNext Alumnus

At Jigsaw Academy we have helped thousands of MBAs become data-savvy managers. There are a number of courses managers can choose from depending on their work experience, function, industry and area of interest.

The Analytics for Beginners  is a short course that is an ideal first step for any manager to get familiar with how analytics helps in making better business decisions.

However, if you want to get a deeper understanding and are not afraid of a little programming, the Data Science and Machine Learning courses are designed to give you all the skills you need to be able to do sophisticated statistical analysis and become a data savvy manager. A combination of these 2 courses is a definite recommendation for people looking to strengthen their analytics knowledge base.

Additionally, if you are focused on the financial services sector, you should opt for the Financial Analytics course or you could choose the specially designed Financial Analytics Specialization which helps you build a strong base.

Similarly, if you are in the field of retail, you can combine the Analytics for Beginners course and the Data Science course with the advanced Retail Analytics course.

If you deal with a lot of web data, Web Analytics is the course for you.

Finally, if you are a senior manager looking to understand the field of analytics better without getting your hands dirty, do check out the Analytics for Leaders article. This article has an interesting mix of case studies from different functions and different industries.

Explore all our courses from UNext

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