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How Does an MBA in Business Analytics Differ from an M.S. in Data Analytics?

The digital transformation is fueling demand for data scientists and analysts with advanced insights into managing large, complex data sets and data-savvy business professionals with analytical skills to drive change and boost innovation.

Data analytics and business analytics complement one another and “share a common goal of optimizing data to improve efficiency and solve problems, but with some fundamental differences,” according to Talend, a data management consultant. Each plays a distinct role in how organizations leverage Big Data to gain competitive advantages by making business-critical decisions faster and more accurately.

What Is Data Analytics?

As businesses accelerate the adoption of machine learning and internet-of-things technology, the volume of data is growing exponentially. However, the trillions of bytes of digital information generated daily mean little until organized and analyzed to extract trends, patterns and other intelligence. That is the role of data analytics: mining and modeling data and creating simple-to-understand visualizations of patterns and trends and supporting descriptive and prescriptive analytics.

In addition, the demand for technology professionals with advanced expertise in data analysis continues to outpace supply. “Even as the pandemic was worsening business conditions in spring 2020, tech majors’ job openings for data analyst, data engineer, and data architect roles continued to trend high,” according to the global consultant Deloitte.

What Is the Fast Track to a Career in Data Analytics?

A Master of Science (M.S.) in Data Analytics, such as the program offered online by Northwest Missouri State University, equips graduates with the skills to identify, collect, analyze and transform data to create insights that help a broad range of organizations make informed decisions. The accredited curriculum includes studies that develop high-demand skills, including:

  • Converting complex datasets into business intelligence
  • Designing visualizations, including charts, graphs, networks and multidimensional displays
  • Developing descriptive and predictive analytics

The high-demand, low-supply market yields average salaries of about $73,000, increasing to roughly $112,000 for those with more experience.

What Is Business Analytics?

Where data analytics focuses primarily on manipulating historical data, business analytics (BA) is a forward-looking process that draws insights from structured data to assess operational metrics and develop strategies to improve performance.

BA and business intelligence (BI) are often used interchangeably. The areas overlap, and there are debates over how they are related, but BI generally uses data to gain operational efficiency by identifying and solving problems. BA, on the other hand, drives transformation and sustained success.

For example, business leaders with analytics expertise inform decision-making processes by identifying strategic opportunities in data patterns and trends, isolating potential problems before they occur, assembling budgets and forecasts and monitoring KPI progress.

“Business analytics is looking in front of you to see what is going to happen. This will help you anticipate … what’s coming,” according to the BI blog Better Buys, making it a popular career path for leaders who want to drive change and boost innovation using data.

How Do Business Leaders Hone Their Analytics Skills?

Northwest’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Business Analytics program equips students with advanced business knowledge and analytical skills that support effective decision-making.

Coursework offers a strong foundation of business functions, supported by tools for analyzing data specific to concentration areas. Ideal for professionals in roles ranging from marketing managers to supply chain analysts, the accredited curriculum’s analytics concentration explores:

  • Data mining techniques that develop data-analytic thinking
  • The principles and use of applied mathematical modeling for managerial decision-making
  • Frameworks for quantitative decision-making, effective budgetary allocation and economic efficiency

Career growth for business professionals with analytics expertise should grow by 11% through 2031, more than twice as fast as for all other jobs. As a result, starting salaries in all sectors average $108,000, with mid-career professionals in the financial services sector earning an average of $137,000.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online M.S. in Data Analytics program and MBA in Business Analytics program.

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