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Business Analytics

Fall 2013 MBA Course

B6101-006: Business Analytics

TR - B Term, 02:15PM to 03:45PM
Location: WJW 310

Instructor: Omar Besbes

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

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.