Emory Goizueta Launches New Business Analytics Master’s

Emory Goizueta Launches New MS In Business Analytics (xMSBA) For Working Professionals

Emory Goizueta students in Prof. Chellappa’s class. The xMSBA program is for students with five or more years of work experience in business analytics or related fields who already possess basic data and programming skills. The goal is not only to upskill the students’ core abilities, but to also provide a better understanding of how the advanced topics of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing can be applied to problems their industry and company might face. Courtesy photo

Is it mostly synchronous classes, or a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous content?

Primarily, it’s synchronous. We have realized that in order to accomplish a program this intensive, you require synchronous learning. While there is some prep time and asynchronous component to it, the program is synchronous. We expect we will have a number of folks coming in from Atlanta, so they will be coming in person. We are also developing a target audience in South America who are in the same basic time zone and can attend online.

Our strategy is to promise firms that we will do your data projects for you for free. You send two or three people to the program, and only they will have access to your data. Faculty members will advise them but won’t contribute to the intellectual property, so the IP is owned by the firm. We end up solving those firms’ problems through their employees, while our faculty provides the intellectual kind of input into how it should be done.

I read that you’re also targeting students in Mexico City, Mexico, and Bogota, Columbia, where companies have expressed interest in the program. These students will utilize the Goizueta’s Global Classrooms to join their cohort. What are the advantages to having a cross-cultural cohort in an MSBA?

We believe that a very critical component of learning comes from students understanding, interacting, and learning how other firms are thinking about data. The advantage with data-based decision-making is that language is not a component. Neither is technology because these countries all use the same Google, the same technology, and the same ad strategy to acquire. The idea is to see how they think about integrating data into their service offerings.

Everything’s a global firm these days, even if you sell something within your own country. As we saw from COVID, our supply chain has spread all across the globe.

Emory Goizueta Launches New MS In Business Analytics (xMSBA) For Working Professionals

Emory Goizueta’s Global Classrooms are designed to accommodate both in-person and virtual students to encourage class interaction and discussion.

What are some of the distinguishing factors of this program compared to some similar programs out there?

I would say that there are very few programs that seem to have thought about it in the same fashion as we have. We have realized that there is an ample amount of content available on Coursera, Udemy, etc., but doing a lot of this education in a purely asynchronous fashion doesn’t bring one of the key elements of the business school into perspective. Business School is not just about content. It’s about experience and application.

Our goal is to guide the students to think about these problems in a new fashion. With that in mind, we have been fairly faithful to the full-time MSBA curriculum, while understanding that the flexibility in the format that is necessary for working professionals is different. We want to accommodate the working professionals’ time commitment while in no way reducing the intellectual component of our program. We want to maintain that experiential element, and I think in-person and live education is critical to maintaining that experience. This is not an engineering degree. This is not a science degree. This is a business school degree.

I don’t know that there are any other schools that have designed it in this particular fashion. I know at least a couple of schools that do offer MSBA for working professionals, but those are primarily asynchronous with small residencies.

I think the overall summary is that this is a very new field which means that people have come to the place that they are in within the organization from very traditional objectives and thinking. I think our consulting approach to solving the business problem should allow students and organizations to see benefits quite immediately. That is the whole purpose of doing this degree within the year.

As I always tell my students, we have the Googles and the Facebooks and the Netflixes, and then we have real firms. Firms that are still struggling with putting together data to make complicated and sophisticated decisions. They are not in the place of thinking about very advanced AI techniques. We want to address that immediately.

Switching gears, tell me about the purpose and need behind the new AI track for the full-time MSBA.

In the full-time program, we heard from some of our students – when you look at the Venn Diagram of business, data, and technology – who want to be more in the data and the technology dimension as well. In other words, they want to go to the Googles and the Facebooks. So that requires introducing some more advanced materials, particularly in the area of deep learning and reinforcement learning.

Emory Goizueta Launches New MS In Business Analytics (xMSBA) For Working Professionals

The AI in Business track, starting in Fall 2023, builds upon the core curriculum of the MSBA degree while diving more deeply in advanced techniques in applying artificial intelligence to business. Courtesy photos

We don’t expect this to make up the larger part of our MSBA students, but we certainly want to cater to those who may otherwise think perhaps engineering is the only way to go. We want to say, “Yes, you can learn these advanced techniques in a business school in an applied fashion.”

We never want to backtrack on the goal of solving a business problem, so that is why we created this track. And the applied practicum that we will design for them will solve business problems that require the knowledge of those advanced techniques.

What are some examples of those advanced techniques?

I think there are three important topics: deep learning, reinforcement learning, and network analytics. The idea behind these is: How can you automate some of the learning itself? How do you automate the tweaking and the iteration so that the techniques you’ve developed can continuously get an infusion of data and go on to learn one particular individual’s or one particular division’s design? If you think about Alexa and the Google assistants, there is a continuous learning that acquires individual level inputs and constant reiteration.

Explain Emory’s AI.Humanity Initiative, and how does it relate to this new AI track?

AI.Humanity is an initiative by our provost, Ravi V. Bellamkonda, launched early this year. Emory is not an engineering university; We are full of professional schools that are all about applying AI techniques to some aspect of the humanities. So in the business school, we think of ourselves as addressing aspects of business and society.

Our MSBA program was the first STEM program from the business school, and it’s tied in very nicely to this initiative. When the new provost came in, he asked, “How are we contributing to humanity through the use and development of AI?” Certainly, on the research component, we were already doing this in the business school.

But what is really interesting is that, from the pedagogy perspective, our goal resonates with the applied nature of what AI. Humanity aims to do – and that is taking this to the workplace. We talk a lot about AI based on the one or two or three firms that are always in the news. But, just this morning, our entire airline system came to a standstill. How could AI help manage problems like that? What do I do when my shipment of hardware has not reached my store? How do I use data to predict and forecast? How do I reassign my resources to handle that?

Those very fundamental problems are very much a part of the application of AI, and very much in line with what the provost is thinking about.

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