Loras College Expands Business Analytics Program

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Loras College in Dubuque is introducing students to a career that could see a big boom in the near future. Loras is the first Iowa college to start a Masters in Business Analytics program.

According to data analysis company MacKenzie Corporation, there are 150,000 entry level business analytics positions that aren't filled in the United States. The corporation says 1.5 million managers don't have the skills necessary to analyze data.

Inside Theisen's Distribution Center, overriding the boxes of boots and packages of paint, data Is the one thing that swarms the supply warehouse. The data is collected through Stock Keeping Unit or SKU numbers every time a customer makes a purchase.

"It lets us know what our customers are buying, how we should purchase products in the future," Theisen's IT Director Patrick Reese said.

Theisen's is one of the Dubuque companies considering how much data drives its business plans.

"Have that debate, you know you should stop spending money in this place. You should say 'Let's look at that, let's look at the impact if we stop spending money.' Then you use the data to inform the debate," Reese said.

Experts suggest data analysis can help predict the future. Loras alumnus Rich Clayton is a business analyst for the Oracle Corporation based in California. He helped develop the new program at Loras.

"Hospitals are using things like Google search to analyze how often people are searching for [the words] 'flu viruses,' and then they use that to staff emergency rooms," Clayton said.

Clayton said it's a career in high demand.

"For every job there are 21 applicants in the United States. For the analytics field, there is one applicant for every five jobs, " said Clayton.

Clayton says it's students, like Zach Gries who'll reap the benefits.

Gries is a Master of Business Administration student who wants job security in a business that intrigues him.

"To me it's not boring. There's an innate level of curiosity. I think everybody has it, and this just really allows you to tap into this curiosity and ask your own questions, " Gries said.

Loras announced Thursday the college is also launching a certificate program. That means students can now earn a certificate in business analytics through an online, 10 week course.
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