University equips students with analytics skills

SMU helps meet a community need for more business analytics professionals

Home to regional headquarters for so many multinational companies, Singapore is well positioned to be a knowledge economy. Those companies produce huge amounts of data every day, and they understand the need to go beyond data mining to harness the full potential of predictive analytics in order to gain maximum business outcomes.

Traditionally, business analytics was used in the financial services industry as a form of risk management. However, with faster high-performance capabilities and larger sets of complete data that make real-time analysis possible, more industries such as governments, hospitality and retail are buying into the use of analytics.

The real highlight to me was seeing the entire first batch of students from this program land themselves analytics-related jobs before they graduated.

Steven Miller
Dean of SMU's School of Information Systems

While interest and awareness of analytics is well established in the West, it is still in its infancy in Singapore. Though the technology is available, skilled local talent is not. Employers cannot find enough workers who can fully understand the data and present it to business executives who must make daily decisions crucial to greater outcomes.

That skills shortfall posed a key challenge to Singapore's progression to the next stage of evolution as a knowledge economy. Singapore Management University, or SMU, is changing all that.

"SMU is constantly at the forefront of innovation, and we quickly understood the skill-set gap issue but also recognized the opportunity for our students with the potential market demand from industry partners," says Professor Steven Miller, Dean of SMU's School of Information Systems. "We quickly refined the current business IT curriculum to include business analytics and intelligence to develop the next wave of analytics talent. "The School of Information Systems extends SMU's research and education efforts into the areas of information systems technology and IT management, as well as issues where IT and management meet.

In the first phase, SMU launched a major in advanced business technology, with business intelligence and analytics (BIA) specialization. Another key highlight was the opening of the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Laboratory at SMU, which increased the number of students enrolled in the BIA specialization over the next three years – a validation of the program's success.

Graduating the next wave of talent

Thriving on innovation, SMU continues to grow its analytics curriculum. Two new courses for the School of Information Systems include Data Mining and Business Analytics as well as Data Warehousing and Business Analytics.

Catering to a workforce keen on expanding its analytics skillset, SMU will extend the use of SAS business analytics solutions into three courses in its Masters of Business IT (Service Sector Analytics) program.

Among the cutting-edge developments arising from the collaboration between SAS and SMU is a SAS Advanced Analytics Lab (SAAL) for students and faculty of the university. The facility will offer students and faculty hands-on experience with SAS solutions and access to SAS experts. SAS will continue to make provisions for facilitating student training, scholarships and internships, as well as for continuing education and training for industry professionals. The new SAS Advanced Analytics Lab builds on the success of the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Laboratory.

"At SMU, we're constantly looking to meet the demands of today's business environment," says Associate Professor Kam Tin Seong, Director of the SMU and SAS Enterprise Intelligence Lab. "By working together with SAS, we have been able to develop a robust analytics program, which has seen great success with industry partners. We see SAS as a strategic partner as we aim to solve the skill-set gap by developing talented graduates who know how to support business decisions through analytics."

"The partnership with SAS to develop analytics talent has been a great success," Miller says. "To me, the highlight was seeing the entire first batch of students from this program land themselves analytics-related jobs before graduation – a testimony that, at SMU, we develop the right talent to meet market demands."


Lack of local talent with the business analytics skills required to support crucial organizational decisions and evolve Singapore as a true knowledge economy.


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Send graduates into the workforce who already understand how to harness the full benefits of business analytics for employers.

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