Happy New Year!! This is a good time to think about what was going on here in SAS Education one year ago, and to introduce you to a big project that I'm really excited to "take public."
In January 2010 (as well as throughout 2009), we kept getting cries for help like this one: "Where do we find MBAs with quantitative skills? They need to know predictive modeling, large-scale time series forecasting, cluster analysis, design and analysis of experiments, honest assessment, and model management. Our problems cannot be solved with t-tests and most universities are not teaching the skills business analysts really need in the modern workplace."
Companies want to hire professionals who have a good head for business, an understanding of data analysis, and facility with advanced software for fitting sophisticated models. They have told us that these people are getting harder and harder to find.
Of course, SAS has had training on statistical analysis and software for decades. But analytical directors and business analysts frequently find themselves in a position of needing to know more about how to apply analytics in the business context: how do you make the most effective use of your (massive, messy, opportunistic) data? How do you "think analytically"?
About half of my time in 2010 (with help from some brilliant colleagues, as well) was spent developing a course to address this need: Advanced Analytics for the Modern Business Analyst. The first version was made exclusively available to university professors last August, and many of them are already teaching it in their graduate programs. Degree-seeking students are getting better prepared for handling large-scale data analysis in the so-called "real-world." We were all very excited about launching the course with the universities and worked individually with over 30 professors worldwide to train them and provide the software needed to teach this course.
Starting in 2011 the course will also be available to professionals.
In March, we are offering a nine-week class that combines statistical and software training with the business context-- think of it as a "how to solve problems with data analysis" class. It is like having that extra semester of graduate training that you wish had been offered.
This course is also a chance to try out a better way of learning. Instead of just a weekly live web class, this course models the strategies many universities are using to offer their distance learning curricula, making it easier for the student to retain learning from week to week and using multiple learning modes to reinforce understanding (reading, writing, listening, watching).
Each week, students will participate in:
...a 3.5-hour live web lecture with your instructor and classmates.
...practice activities using software on our servers.
...assigned reading of book chapters and articles to support the class topics, as well as discussion forums to exchange ideas about the readings.
The total time commitment is about 5-6 hours a week, roughly the same as a semester-long course.
You can read a little more about it here in the SAS Training Newsletter.
You can see the course outline here. There are only a few seats left, so if you're interested, you might want to jump on it. Since every teaching experience is also a learning experience, I hope that teaching this class will generate lots of new ideas and blog posts in the coming months. I'll let you know how it's coming along.
Does your organization have people who can to make sense of masses of data, forecast future behavior, and find the next best strategy to gain competitive edge?
See you in class!