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Update | Fall/Winter 2023

Charting the Rise of Business Analytics with WSB’s Cody Baldwin

Interview conducted and edited by Chris Malina

Photography by Paul L. Newby II

Cody Baldwin smiling in front of blue background

Making sense of billions of disparate data records is kind of Cody Baldwin’s thing, but he admits it doesn’t take a data scientist to identify one of the biggest business trends today: Analytics is hot. With nearly 15 years of big data experience across the public and private sectors, Baldwin serves as director of the Wisconsin School of Business’ highly ranked and rapidly growing Master’s in Business Analytics program, which prepares students for in-demand jobs across a variety of industries.

WSB: What is business analytics?

Cody Baldwin: It’s taking data and turning it into meaningful business insights. Businesses have questions they’re trying to answer, and data is one path to a solution. Let’s say you work at Netflix and want to determine how to minimize churn. The company wants users to stay with the service and not cancel it after a month or two. If you have data about when and why subscribers leave, you can use it to address the issue and limit that churn.

WSB: Why is this such an in-demand field right now?

CB: Data is growing faster than our ability to handle it. Companies have huge amounts of untapped data and there’s currently not enough talent or capacity to work with it. There’s so much potential in data, and companies are always searching for a competitive advantage, which helps explain why we’re seeing such a strong demand in this field. Our last two graduating classes had 100% job placement within six months of graduation.

“You can take your existing education and experience, add analytics to it, and become even more valuable than you already are.”

—Cody Baldwin

WSB: What degrees does WSB offer in business analytics?

CB: Our MS in business analytics is a one-year, full-time program. In addition to learning common industry tools, students build a foundation of analytics knowledge, methods, and best practices. There’s also a wide range of elective options, and we work with students to select the best courses based on their individual career goals. Students also take part in a consulting practicum project where they work with real companies on real problems. That really builds their confidence and ultimately helps them in their job search.

We’ve also recently launched a two-year, completely online master’s degree in data, insights, and analytics. It’s a flexible option that will continue to evolve as the program grows. Regardless of the program students choose—and the background they already have—they’re going to be well equipped for success in a wide range of analytics roles. What’s really cool is that you can take your existing education and experience, add analytics to it, and become even more valuable than you already are. That opens a lot of career paths.

Another thing that’s unique about business analytics degrees at WSB is our focus on cloud computing—something that employers told us they wanted. So, we’ve built that into the curriculum and our cloud computing expertise really sets us apart from other analytics programs.

WSB: What effect will the rise of artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT have on this field?

CB: Generative AI is just one tool in our analytics toolbox, and really, tools are changing all the time. But the business questions that we’re trying to solve—boosting revenues, saving costs, improving customer satisfaction—remain fairly constant. Over time, we get better tools, like AI, to help us take data and turn it into insights, but there’s always going to be a need for someone who can figure out the right tool to gather the right data for the business question that needs solving.