Meeting demand for data analysts

Published February 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Bernardo M. Villegas
Bernardo M. Villegas

A longer-term effort to significantly increase the number of Big Data analysts in the Philippines is to introduce more formal courses, both undergraduate and graduate programs in this field. Already there are encouraging signs that the leading institutions of higher learning like the Asian Institute of Management, the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, the Ateneo University and others are already offering or planning to offer specializations in business data analysis or data sciences. What I will describe in this article are the various levels of competencies that academic programs can develop for the BDA sector as have been made available by the University about which I am most familiar, the University of Asia and the Pacific. UA&P was a pioneer in offering a masteral program in applied business analytics which purport to produce as quickly as possible the different skill levels in the BDA industry, i.e., the data steward, the data engineer, the data scientist and the functional analyst. This Master in Business Analytics (MABA) program is addressed to young professional people with undergraduate degrees especially in engineering, accounting and finance, economics, the sciences and the humanities. Many of them can be found in the existing BPO-IT sector, especially among those who are already in the non-voice Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) industry. Others are self-employed entrepreneurs or middle-level managers in large corporations.

As contained in the literature describing the MABA program, its graduates are expected to develop the proficiency of an entry level manager. In concrete terms, this means that they must have the basic proficiencies of the 10 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Community) Recommended Data Science and Analytics competencies for an entry level manager. These ten competencies are operational analytics; data visualization and presentation; data management and governance; domain knowledge and application; statistical techniques; computing; data analytics methods and algorithms; research methods; data science engineering principles; and 21st Century skills (these are cross-cutting skills essential for Analytics at all levels, including but not limited to collaboration, ethical mindset, empathy, social and societal awareness, dynamic self-learning and entrepreneurship).

The MABA is a two-year, part-time graduate program for experienced professionals who apply the science of analytics in organizational settings with a humanist, ethical and legal perspective. Analytics in the context of MABA is the process of transforming data to insights that enable decisions that drive value. The program is oriented towards business decision making, as contrasted with application to other sciences, whether physical or social. The program deals with applied (as contrasted with theoretical) courses in which students complete analytics projects to pass analytics courses and a terminal and integrative capstone project. These projects must make use of real data to solve real-life problems of specific stakeholders of businesses.

After completing all the requirements for the MABA degree, the graduates are expected to have the capacity to carry out the following learning outcomes:
-Leverage data to inform strategic and operational decisions.
-Utilize data and analytical models to inform specific functions and business decisions
-Leverage data analysis and modelling techniques to solve problems and glean insights across functional domains
-Create analytical models to derive insights form data
-Oversee analytical operations and communicate insights to executives.
The most appropriate professional to enrol in the MABA course is one who wants to (a) advance a career in analytics or to become a professional who works on data most of the time while at the same time occupying a managerial position; (b) start a career in analytics; or (c) enrich a current career with new knowledge and skills in analytics. The MABA graduates may grow into Senior Analytics Managers with additional years of solid work experience in analytics. To help employers to determine which of their existing employees can be encouraged to take up the MABA program, the following are the competencies that the potential participants must possess: basic technical knowledge and skills in math, statistics and computing. In addition, the student must also have a good working experience within a business organization. There are, however, some bridging classes on math, statistics and computing that are offered to entering students who may lack these basic technical knowledge and skills.

A longer-term human resource development program to increase the number of data analysts is being made available also by UA&P, starting School Year 2020 to 2021, through the Bachelor of Science in Data Science offered by the School of Science and Engineering of UA&P. This is a four-year program that aims to produce data scientists equipped with technical, leadership, business and human competencies necessary in the field of data analytics. The program is open to graduates of senior high schools with above-average skills in mathematics and the quantitative sciences. The program includes the study of machine learning algorithms, mathematical and statistical modelling and predictions, analytical and technological tools for making sense of data, the art of presenting the results of analysis to relevant stakeholders and the use of data at the service of the human person. The program includes a significant dosage of liberal arts or general education subjects such as philosophy, history, science, languages, arts, literature, communication arts and physical education so as to develop critical thinking skills, effective communication both in writing and speaking and the ability to relate one discipline to another. Finally, there is the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) with specialization in business analytics to prepare future business managers who have a sufficient understanding of the role of data analytics in the various business functions. Employers, parents, students and others interested in these programs may get in touch with the Program Director of MABA at [email protected] or Program Director of the B.S. in Data Science at [email protected] or Program Director of the B.S.B.A with specialization in business analytics with [email protected]

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