Access to an increasing amount of data is revolutionising the way we do business. Program leader for Analytics, Dr Melih Ozlen explains how RMIT is providing vital skills for the Information Age.
What is analytics and why is it so important?
Analytics is the science and art of analysing data to make better informed decisions. It builds on the tradition of statistics and operations research, bringing together tools and expertise from computer science, engineering and business.
This blend of disciplines makes analytics unique in its capacity to solve critical real world problems. Usually historical data is analysed to identify patterns and predict trends, that information is then used to determine the best set of actions. For example in finance, this would be about identifying sources of risks, quantifying future risks, and taking the necessary steps to minimise our exposure.
Some of the buzzwords you may have heard in this area are data mining and Big Data:
- Data mining is about deriving useful insights based on often unstructured and incomplete data. These insights enable organisations to make decisions and limit resources to deliver on their objectives.
- Big Data is concerned with the enormous amounts of data that is now available to us thanks to recent developments in information technologies. In order to process and derive insights from these extremely large data sets, we often draw on the expertise from computer science.
Who needs analysts?
Everyone needs analysts, including IT companies, insurance providers, banks, superannuation, investment funds and other financial services providers, professional services and consulting companies, telecommunications providers, electricity, gas, water and utilities companies, education institutes, local, state and federal government organisations, retailers and health care providers.
Who is suited to the field of analytics? Is there a particular background or skill set required?
Actually, background is not as relevant as many people think. We have students with unusual backgrounds who turn out to be great analysts. The most critical requirement is the appreciation and passion for using data, or evidence in the more general sense, to make informed decisions.
The quantitative skills and tools can be learnt with some effort given that the motivation and willingness is there.
What can students expect from the master program at RMIT?
With only six core courses, our master program, MC242 Master of Analytics is the most flexible offering in the market allowing students to specialise in computer science, economics, finance, logistics or marketing.
Alternatively, students can choose to have a broader understanding of all these individual fields by doing a single introductory course from each field.
Having a comprehensive understanding of statistics, computer science and business is very unique and gives our graduates ‘the edge’ to differentiate themselves from others who only specialise in either one these.
RMIT graduates are often employed as data scientists or business analysts by public and private organisations.
What can students expect from the undergraduate program at RMIT?
Our undergraduate program in analytics, BH119 Bachelor of Analytics (Honours) provides students with a complete package of tools and skills from statistics, operations research, computer science and business.
As a four year program, it is the most comprehensive offering of its kind in the market and will enable graduates to work as a data scientist or business analyst in the sector of their choice.
What makes these programs unique?
Our program structures deliver the perfect balance between the core and optional courses, and between statistics, computer science and business courses.
Both programs are some of the most flexible analytics programs on offer, giving students lots of freedom to design their dream degree.
What and how will students learn?
The RMIT analytics programs cover fundamentals of statistics and computer programming and all the important tools including SQL, SAS Enterprise Guide, SAS Enterprise Miner, R, Python, Java, Julia, CPLEX, Gurobi and Arena, as identified by our industry partners.
This promise is delivered through a mixture of lectures, practicals, online materials, computer lab sessions, individual and group projects.
A lot of importance is placed on work integrated learning and all analytics students have a capstone experience with our industry partners, working on real data.
What are some of the burgeoning careers in this area?
Marketing is one of the domains which has grown exponentially over recent years, followed closely by finance, consulting and business intelligence.
With the increasing availability of data available from sources including smartphones, smartwatches, and the internet of things, there will always be analytics opportunities to derive insights.
The methods and tools may change over time due to the mere magnitude of data that needs to be processed, but the need to make informed decisions will always be there.
Analytics enables people to make significant contributions to success of their organisations, which provides a rewarding and valued career path.