Fall 2013 MBA Course

B6101-001: Business Analytics

TR - B Term, 09:00AM to 10:30AM

Location: WJW 310

Instructor: Omar Besbes

Prerequisite(s): B6100


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Business analytics refers to the ways in which enterprises – whether businesses, non-profits, or government agencies – can use data to gain insights and make better decisions.  Business analytics are applied in many places within organizations – in operations, marketing, finance, and strategic planning – to support decisions.  Many current startups are based on the use of business analytics.    The ability to use data effectively to drive rapid, precise and profitable decisions has been a critical strategic advantage for companies as diverse as WalMart,  Google, Capital One, and Disney.   For example, Capital One uses sophisticated analytic capabilities to match credit card offerings to customers more accurately than their competition.  WalMart uses analytics to monitor and update its inventory in a way that allows it to serve its customers at an exceptionally low cost.   With the increasing availability of broad and deep sources of information – so-called “Big Data” – business analytics are  becoming an even more critical capability for enterprises of all types and all sizes.

In this course, you will learn to identify, evaluate, and capture business analytic opportunities that create value. Toward this end, you will learn basic analytic methods and analyze case studies on leading organizations that successfully deployed these techniques. In the first part of the course, we focus on how to use data to develop insights and predictive capabilities using machine learning, data mining and forecasting techniques.  In the second part, we focus on the use of optimization to support decision-making in the presence of a large number of alternatives and business constraints.  Finally, throughout the course, we explore the challenges that can arise in implementing analytical approaches within an organization.

The course emphasizes that business analytics is not a theoretical discipline:  these techniques are only interesting and important to the extent that they can be used to provide real insights and improve the speed, reliability, and quality of decisions.

The concepts learned in this class should help you identify opportunities in which business analytics can be used to improve performance and support important decisions.  It should make you alert to the ways that analytics can be used – and misused—within an organization. 

We have three goals in this course.  The first is to help you think critically about data and the analyses based on those data – whether conducted by you or someone else.  The second is to enable you to identify opportunities for creating value using business analytics.  The third is to help you estimate the value created using business analytics to address an opportunity. 

Business analytics is an integral part of modern management – this course should provide you with the foundation you need to understand and apply these methods to drive value.


Omar Besbes

Philip H. Geier Jr. Associate Professor of BusinessOmar Besbes is an Associate Professor in the Decision, Risk and Operations division at the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University. He teaches the core MBA Operations Management course as well as an MBA elective on advanced Business Analytics. His primary research interests are in the area of decision-making under model uncertainty with a focus on applications in e-commerce, pricing and revenue management, online advertising...

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