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Educating tomorrow's leaders

Teaching future leaders the skills they need to solve the problems of the future

In a recent Accenture survey of senior managers in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, 51 percent of the respondents said their organizations have "more opportunities to use analytics to improve the business than we have analytical resources to address them."

This lamentation gets repeated again and again across industries and is often heard at executive and analytics conferences around the world. Whether you are a retailer optimizing store displays for millions of items, a government agency in charge of international security, or an aid organization supporting developing countries, the problems you have to solve are large and data-intense. And the skills needed to solve them are very specialized.

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight's commitment to education extends from sponsoring one-to-one laptop initiatives for school-age children all the way to supporting university programs for science, technology, engineering and math students. In particular, SAS teams with universities worldwide to help prepare students to solve problems in both corporate and public sectors as soon as they enter the work force. "To make our workforce competitive, post-secondary education must evolve to meet the current needs of organizations who need employees who can hit the ground running," says Goodnight.

La Trobe University in Australia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics are just a few of the many institutions using SAS to address the global shortage of analytic employees, and to graduate students who can help solve tomorrow's problems with analytic skills and technology. Learn more about their stories here.

Students apply analytics to real-world business problems
Melbourne's La Trobe University has deployed SAS solutions to help address the perennial dearth of employees with finely honed business analysis skills.

The solutions are used in modules of two postgraduate courses – La Trobe's two-year Master of Business Information Management and Systems degree and its 18-month Master of Information Systems Management degree. The courses are accredited by the Australian Computer Society.

With emphasis on information for business purposes rather than on information technology as such, both courses are conducted by the School of Management within La Trobe's Faculty of Law and Management rather than at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, which encompasses computer studies.

The Master of Business Information Management and Systems program comprises 16 courses that impart knowledge and skills along four dimensions – industry-based IT tools, business subjects, business-focused IT subjects and an industry-based business intelligence project. SAS software is used in four of the courses and is key to the industry-based BI project dimension.

The information the students analyze using SAS is real-life application data provided under confidentiality agreements between SAS and its customers who participate in SAS' Work Placement Program. Using real business data sets to solve problems, students develop practical, industry-relevant skills and gain experience using software that handles mammoth loads of data with ease and efficiency. As a result, graduates gain a competitive edge in the job market, and arrive on the job with real-world experience applying advanced analytics to resolve real-world issues.

Advancing analytics
Offering business students IT-related majors is nothing new in Hungary, although graduates from technical schools in general had very little business knowledge. Likewise, business graduates did not receive relevant technical background training. With time, more colleges applied for accreditation to provide a bachelor's program in business IT systems, but there remained a gap for specializations in the field. To address that gap, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics has developed the two-year master's degree program with five individual tracks:

  • Financial Information Processes.
  • E-Government.
  • ERP Systems.
  • Analytical Business Intelligence.
  • Service Management and Improvement.

Additionally, each of the above specializations is supported by an outstanding representative of the given industry area. For example, Morgan Stanley supports the Financial Information Processes degree, SAP supports the ERP Systems program and SAS supports the Analytical Business Intelligence degree.

"The MSc in Analytical Business Intelligence is designed to give students a thorough understanding of the tools, methods, applications and practice of advanced analytics in the business life," says Tamás Henk, Program Director. "It is both focused and practical in its orientation, with the goal to provide an education that is directly applicable to positions in the industry." The interdisciplinary curriculum consists of courses developed exclusively for business and industrial applications, highlighting data mining, forecasting, optimization, text analytics, databases, data visualization, data privacy and security, and customer analytics, among other areas. The program is taught in English to attract students around the world.

Preparing innovative thinkers of tomorrow
High-quality education within a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes both pure and applied statistics lies at the core of the Department of Mathematics at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). The department's mission also ties into current unique market conditions in the global economy that demand highly skilled thinkers to solve the most challenging problems many organizations have ever faced. The market requires thinkers that base decisions, solutions and strategies on robust analyses of data. UTM responds to this need by offering graduates extensive training in SAS, ranging in topics from data quality to operational research, to solve today's challenges.

As such, the university has a record of easily placing students into the work force immediately following graduation. "SAS is the perfect match between employers' expectations and statistical skills achieved by graduates," says Dr. Muhammad Hisyam Lee, IT Manager of the Research Management Center and Associate Professor within the Faculty of Science.

Overall, UTM uses the SAS academic suite of solutions to inspire students to think creatively and innovatively to make informed decisions. As a result, the work force is better prepared to face current global obstacles that necessitate such critical judgement.

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