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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - New online business analytics track among enhancements to MSITM program

Rapid growth in the business analytics (BA) field is just one driver behind the changes the SBA has made to its Master of Science in Information Technology Management (MSITM) program.

The facts tell the story: BA is set to become the top technology priority according to a 2011 Gartner survey of 2,335 CIOs. A rapidly growing field, BA provides insights that help businesses make more informed decisions as they work to develop strategies for future growth.

A look at other surveys conducted in late 2011 show that companies across industries plan to maintain or increase their investment in business intelligence spending in 2012.

A new focused BA track for the SBA's MSITM program is a significant new feature. Other program enhancements are just as compelling, and include delivering the SBA's advanced degree program through a combination of online and on-campus courses that can be completed in one year. In addition, all students accepted into the MSITM-BA track program, including full-time foreign students, can take advantage of in-state tuition rates.

Attractive to working professionals worldwide

"There's a great deal of demand for this particular advanced degree, and we wanted to make sure we reached as many people as possible," says Mohammad Dadashzadeh, professor, Management Information Systems (MIS), and chair, Decision and Information Sciences Department for OU's SBA.

Offering a combination of online and on campus courses through a co-hort structure makes it attractive to the working professionals who are interested in expanding their skills and knowledge in this field.

"The program's structure reduces the students' on-campus time to July and August in the first year, and May and June in the second," Dadashzadeh explains. "When combined with the in-state tuition rates, we expect it to be extremely attractive to prospective students throughout the United States and in other countries.

"For IT professionals in India and China, the new program opens possibilities to get career advancing education from Oakland University," he adds. "They will be able to dedicate two months over two summers to come to Michigan to earn an advanced degree without risking their jobs. While they are here, they will experience the beauty of Michigan in the summer, and experience life and education in the United States."

With limited promotion starting in late 2011, the program has already received applications from prospective students in Michigan, as well as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and India.

Support for a growing industry

“Companies worldwide have invested in IT,” Dadashzadeh says. “They have invested in automating processes. As a result, all sorts of data is being collected. The question is, how can we make the best use of this data?”

That's where BA comes in. "It utilizes past and current business data along with predictive modeling to reveal new discoveries to benefit organizations."

For example, BA can enable organizations to make large volumes of information transparent and usable; use very granular information to reveal variability in customer buying patterns; improve customer segmentation, leading to more tailored marketing efforts and successes; and discover patterns that can help determine personnel, product and service improvements.

“Organizations have come to realize that just having massive amounts of data does not automatically mean the data is usable or that it will ever be helpful,” Dadashzadeh says. “It’s important to identify what data is useful and have the appropriate methods and software tools to process them and use them effectively for analysis.”

Recent news articles highlight the importance companies place on mining and analyzing data. Recent New York Times and articles describe how Target reviewed historical buying data of women who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past and used their buying patterns to determine which customers were pregnant before they signed up for registries or started buying diapers. Target uses the data to send baby-related coupons to those customers, to begin cementing the customer relationship for those products.

In the automotive arena, a February Detroit Free Press business article featured Hyundai North American CEO John Krafcik’s focus on data. “I like to go through the data myself and demonstrate to the team the importance of mining the data,” Krafcik tells the Free Press. The article notes that since he became CEO in 2008, Hyundai’s market share jumped from 3.0% to 5.1%.

The importance and use of data is growing. Because of the great need for those with skills to accomplish these objectives, there will be a demand for OU’s MSITM graduates, Dadashzadeh says.

Global business consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimates that by 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the required knowledge to use big data analysis for effective decision making.

For program details and information on how to apply, visit

By Flori Meeks