On the day that Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and IBM announced a collaboration on a new business analytics curriculum, representatives from both groups gathered at the Lincoln Center campus for a wide-ranging discussion of the importance of the field to businesses both small and large.

“Smarter Education: An Era of Opportunity,” a colloquium on Dec. 9, that was also webcast live from the Lowenstein Center’s 12th-Floor Lounge, featured presentations by Ambuj Goyal, general manager, business analytics and Process Optimization at IBM, W. “RP” Raghupathi, Ph.D., professor of information systems at Fordham, Kamal Bherwani, CIO, New York Health and Human Services and Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future.

Brenda Dietrich, IBM fellow and vice president, business analytics and mathematical science at IBM Research, quizzed the panel about the future of business analytics. Photo by Patrick Verel

Part of the push for the partnership, noted Goyal, is that a recent IBM Global CIO Study found that 83 percent of respondents identified business analytics—the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights—as a top priority.

“Those companies who use business analytics at the point of impact, not just to do the analysis, the graphs, the scatter plot, leveraging that in the context of making a business decisions, are 15 times more effective in terms of high performance,” he said. “Another way of saying this is, we found, in high performing companies, 15 times more effective use of business analytics at the point of impact.”

Raghupathi, in announcing the collaboration, noted that beginning in spring 2010, students who enroll in the course “Business Analytics for Managers” will get hands on training in business intelligence, data warehousing, data mining and online analytical processing techniques. The course, he said, aims to close a gap that exists between what the private sector is searching for and what has traditionally been offered in academia.

“Analytics can vastly improve our lives and provide new job opportunities for college students entering the workforce, Raghupathi said. “With this effort, Fordham is preparing students with marketable skills for a coming wave of jobs in healthcare, sustainability and social services where analytics can be applied to everyday challenges.

Bowles said the New York metropolitan area economy can benefit from the push to examine and interpret the ever-expanding amounts of data being generated today. CompStat, which the New York City Police Department uses to analyze patterns in crime statistics, is a perfect current example. He also said there are ways city government can use analytics to help small businesses compete effectively in New York City.

“New York City has hundreds and hundreds of these small bodega stores around the city, and they’re really struggling. They’re struggling amid increasing competition, and it was a surprise to me, but so few of these bodegas have any kind of sophisticated technology that can really monitor their inventory,” Bowles said. “They don’t know what kind of products they’re selling which ones are selling, which ones aren’t moving at all, and they’re facing more and more threats from super markets and national chains.  A lot of people in New York want to make sure we can help these companies stay and grow, and getting them smarter and helping them be more efficient is a big part of it.”


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.