Graduate students earning an MBA can enhance their degrees with a certificate in Business Analytics. Data analytics and critical thinking skills are increasingly in-demand in the workforce. Taking courses as part of this certificate gives MBA students the opportunity to learn about different statistical and analytics tools, like SPSS and Tableau. Tools which are increasingly utilized in a variety of professional roles.
One of the courses I took as part of this certificate was Visualization for Business Analytics. This course introduces students who are interested in data analytics to visualization tools. It provides foundational techniques using tools like Tableau. In this class I worked on a project looking at the impact of Covid globally. I wanted to create a global heat map showing the areas that were hit hardest by Covid. So I utilized a dataset containing Covid statistics pertaining to regional positivity and deaths. The primary questions I wanted to visualize with this project was the total number of positive cases and the total number of deaths globally. Additionally, I wanted to create a global heat map that showed which countries had the highest deaths.
My biggest personal learning was just how important the principles of decluttering and readability are in the data visualization process.
Throughout the semester, we had the opportunity to evaluate many different data visualizations that were used in academic papers and news stories. We saw examples of good and bad visualizations, but one thing that was clear was how important it is to have a graphic that is concise and easy to understand.
I also learned that data visualization tools are less intimidating than I first thought. I had some prior experience with SPSS but Tableau was a much easier tool to use. As someone who came from an academic background I didn’t do a lot of coding or advanced statistics, I found Tableau very easy to use. The output of the projects was much nicer, cleaner, and more professional than projects I have crafted in other classes using different tools.
The other thing that I learned was how powerful dashboards are.
Dashboards are useful because people working with data can compile lots of different statistics to display multiple components of datasets to craft a story. Ultimately all data is only useful in so far as the story it tells. Dashboards provide a useful organizing mechanism for crafting stories that audiences or consumers can easily digest and understand.
I strongly recommend incoming MBA candidates and first- and second-year students look at the requirements for the certificate. The certificate provides the opportunity to learn a variety of different skills that are directly transferable to any marketing manager or summer intern. Also, these classes are well structured and the projects make learning new skills fun. You can find more information about the graduate certificate in business analytics here.