Analytical Tools of the Future

PROVO, Utah – Feb 16, 2021 – A well-known adage states that the one constant is change. As the world continues to change in the coming years, business professionals will continue to adapt to new technologies and norms. Even though students cannot be prepared for all changes that come their way, a new class at the BYU Marriott School of Business aims to familiarize students with the technologies needed to make decisions during their future careers.

The new Strategy Analytics 2 (STRAT 412) class teaches students essential technologies that many professionals use to interpret data and make decisions in the workplace. “This new class is an experiential course focused on key software platforms commonly used by data analysts including SQL, R, Tableau, and Python,” says Ben Lewis, BYU Marriott associate professor of strategy and instructor of the course. “Because trends in software change rapidly, this new course builds students’ confidence with these analytical tools so they can continue to learn and enhance their analytical abilities throughout their careers.”

Students gain familiarity with these new technologies through preclass learning and hands-on group work during class. “My classmates and I watched self-learning videos before class and then reviewed the basics of each language in class,” says Rhea Walters, a 2020 strategy graduate from Draper, Utah. “During class, a task using the new language would also be assigned for us to complete in a group. These tasks would be in the context of a case, and we would present our hypotheses and findings to the class later on.”

The class is designed to get students working together to discuss solutions and to share insights with one another. “The whole class works as a team to discuss and understand concepts and try them out as we are learning,” says Ty Tousa, a strategy senior from Charlotte, North Carolina. “The class was built on open communication, so my classmates and I felt free to comment and ask questions to understand the different strategic tools.”

Walters explains that students learn these tools so that they can understand data to make more effective decisions. “There are many different ways to look at a business problem. The most important thing is to understand what data you need and what question you’re trying to answer and then choose what tool will help you analyze and manipulate that data to reach a conclusion,” she says. “Approaching a question in multiple ways will increase your insights and accuracy as well.”

Lewis shares that he has already seen how the data-driven approach to decision making that this class teaches has given students a leg up in their future careers. “Although the true impact of the course remains to be seen, I’ve had several students from my class last year mention how valuable the course was in their summer internships,” he says. “One mentioned that potential employers have asked him about the class in every one of his interviews.”

Beyond just preparing students to use technology to solve problems in their careers, the course also teaches them how to learn effectively. With a comfortable knowledge base, students can learn how to use more analytical tools throughout their careers.  “In this class, I was able to scratch the surface of many technical skills that I could possibly use in the future,” says Derek Lowe, a 2020 graduate from Orlando, Florida. “Regardless of what my future career may demand of me, I have a working knowledge of a lot of things that position me to learn anything else I might need quickly and efficiently.”

Students say that this class has given them the confidence that they’ll be able to master new technologies that come their way. “I can say that because of this class I feel more comfortable trying to learn any new software and understand a decent portion of it within a two-week period,” says Tousa. “That is definitely a marketable asset.”

A new BYU Marriott strategy analytics class teaches students how to use data to make better business decisions.
A new BYU Marriott strategy analytics class teaches students how to use data to make better business decisions. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Francisca.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce