By Linh Nguyen (M.S. in Commerce ’21)
This semester, I am taking a course called Digital Analytics, which is personally one of the most exciting and useful courses for me. The course, taught by Professor Brent Kitchens and offered to students in the Business Analytics track, provides an overview of the concepts, technologies, and tools necessary to support and improve electronic commerce.
Professor Kitchens has years of experience using business analytics to examine firm value and competition, as well as making data-driven decisions in his work. Before pursuing a career in higher education, Professor Kitchens worked in the Risk Advisory Services practice at Ernst & Young.
The Digital Analytics course focuses on two main areas: web analytics and search analytics. But before diving into these two major topics, we learned and practiced on programs like SQL and Tableau through a series of labs and homework assignments. There is no prior experience required to take the course, and it was really helpful to learn the new programming languages from the beginning.
SQL and Tableau are among the two most important programs for business analysts. The skills applied while using these programs will not only help you succeed in your academic courses, but also in your professional work in the analytics field. Students who graduate from the Business Analytics track will often use them in their careers, and knowing them through and through can help advance their careers.
One of the parts of this course that was most exciting to me was that for an assignment, I got to see into the back end of social media platforms. As a millennial, I am familiar with platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as a user, but this course offered me a new perspective from the eyes of a business analyst.
In this assignment, we learned what information from these platforms is helpful in answering questions surrounding business strategy and objectives, while also learning how to measure this data and use it to make decisions. For example, we talked about how to generate revenue or optimize market strategy to reach target markets.
For the course’s final project, we are using Tableau to create social media dashboards that can be used to monitor and analyze Twitter activity about a particular event; my team chose the Super Bowl. We are also utilizing SQL and analysis that we did completed in the Big Data and Text Analytics courses. And for the final presentation, we get to demonstrate how our dashboard works and identify what we learned from our analysis of the data using the dashboard we created.
This brings up an important point about why I really enjoy this program so much—all of the courses are integrated and complement each other really well. There are no “filler” classes, and all of the expertise and tools that you learn in one course can be applied to another.
This program teaches a lot of hard technical skills and also many important soft skills like team work and communication skills, all crucial for business analysts. In this way, the M.S. in Commerce Program focuses on producing well-rounded analysts who can both do the technical math side of things and also talk business. For me, this really separates the program from others, and I cannot recommend the program or this course enough to any and all future students.