Introduction to Analytics

Smeal College of Business

How long?

  • 4 days
  • online

Smeal College of Business


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Who should attend

This overview program focuses on developing the foundations of analytics, creating a clear understanding of common terms and tools used in organizations, and helps you consider how data/information can help you lead your organization. Please note that this overview course supports understanding the basic skills to understand without getting deeply into specific tools and statistical techniques.

In this program, you’ll enhance your understanding of:

  • The basics of analytics
    • What it is – and what it isn’t….
    • Categories of business analytics and how they benefit organizations
    • Commonly applied tools, techniques, and software
  • How analytics can be integrated into leadership and decision making
  • The future of analytics – artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and more

About the course

The words ‘analytics’ and ‘data’ are found everywhere today: from social media platforms to nearly every business area, including finance, marketing, human resources, and operations. But what do these words really mean in the context of leading an organization and leveraging data analysis to meet team and enterprise goals? This program offers leaders the opportunity to ground themselves in the core issues related to understanding analytics. Together, we will explore the shared language around data analysis, dive into how analytics is offering new insight into business activities, survey the most common tools and techniques for analysis, and leave you with some ideas about future possibilities in analytics.

Program Benefits

Improve your ability to:

  • Communicate more effectively with data analysts in your organization by using a common understanding of foundational principles and a shared language
  • Consider different strategies to leverage information and data to inform decisions and plans
  • Ask questions or consider challenges in a way that helps your technical experts to compile the most relevant data to inform your strategies
  • Leverage the technical experts on your team more effectively – and clarify the value their efforts can bring the organization

Program Content

This course provides leaders of all levels an introduction to analytics; offers insight into how analytics can be used to address challenging business problems and processes; and explores how to successfully build, implement, and maintain an analytics capability at any organizational level.

You will gain an understanding of the analytics hierarchy, examine successful applications of various analytics tools and techniques from business, and explore what organizations need in terms of analytics strategy, human capital, and technology to successfully incorporate analytics into organizational decision-making.

The course culminates in an exercise that will allow you to assess an organizational problem, apply analytics tools and techniques, and translate analytics outputs to inform strategic, organizational decision-making.

Introduction to Analytics: Core Principles, Tools, and Organizational Impact

Demystifying Analytics

  • What is analytics? Is analytics new? Where did ‘big data’ come from?
  • Harnessing and visualizing data for decision making
  • Is it just ‘data’? How to maximize the value of information across an organization

Types of Analytics

  • Descriptive analytics: “Based on our data and problem, what happened?”
  • Predictive analytics: “Based on our data and problem, what’s going to happen?”
  • Prescriptive analytics: “Based on our data and problem, what should we do to get the best results?”
  • Demonstrations and activities using common analytics tools and techniques

Using Analytics to Address Organizational Challenges

  • Analytics and statistics to support decision making
  • Optimizing decisions during times of uncertainty
  • Examples of how to use descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics

The Future of Analytics

  • Technology – What’s next and how can I prepare?
  • Shifting organizational opportunities – Keeping an eye to the future
  • Expanding analytics to explore new processes and challenges

Value For You and Your Organization

Organizational leaders at all levels need to be able to maximize the value of data and information – now more than ever. All teams need people who can ask the right questions, frame appropriate strategies, and make decisions using data-driven, problem-centric approaches that are targeted, accurate, and focused. This program enables participants to build a foundation of understanding around analytics with an eye towards improved collaboration with technical colleagues, data-based solutions, and leveraging common tools and techniques.

Note: This is an overview program that will equip participants with foundational information about analytics, basic statistical techniques that can be done with a moderate understanding of Excel, and ideas for how to use information to solve real problems.


Christopher Solo

Dr. Solo teaches a variety of courses in Supply Chain Management and Management Information Systems at Penn State. Prior to joining the Smeal faculty, Dr. Solo served over 21 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he held leadership positions in the intelligence, acquisition program ma...

Rashmi Sharma

Rashmi Sharma is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.  Rashmi teaches Predictive Analytics at the graduate level and Demand Fulfillment and Supply Chain Analytics courses at the undergraduate level. She ...

Introduction to Analytics at Smeal College of Business

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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