In our recent chat with Tanya Scott, Director of the Business Analytics degree program at Wake Tech Community College, she discusses how data science is changing and how Wake Tech and Data 4 Decisions fit into that evolving landscape.
Q: How is the field of data and analytics developing and where do you see it going in the next few years?
A: Even just five years ago, the skills needed to work in analytics were at the Masters and Ph.D. levels and not attainable for most. Now, with the development of user-friendly software and analytics tools, the turnaround time for training is much quicker and more accessible. As a result, a lot more people are now “data literate.”
At the same time, there’s also a broader need across industries—from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, and manufacturing to health care—to have some analytics built into their strategies and teams. Raleigh has been witness to that exponential growth in demand for talented people who are interested in analytics.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Wake Tech’s Business Analytics program?
A: Sure! We offer the first and only Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Analytics in the country. Our program is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed for our graduates to work in entry-level business intelligence and analytics professions. The program is fully accredited and offers courses in on-campus, online and hybrid formats, and right now, we have more than 200 students enrolled.
Q: How do you attract students to data science and get them interested in making data science their profession?
A: The program is really all about applied math rather than abstract concepts, using math every day and making it accessible when it comes to business decisions. Students can start playing with data immediately—they see learning analytics skills is attainable.
In the past, this type of skill was reserved for graduate-level programs, but now there’s a growing need for entry-level and mid-level analytics, and there are immediate jobs available upon graduation, locally and elsewhere. Anyone with an attitude and a desire to learn about business analytics is welcome in our program.
Q: How did you get involved with Data4Decisions and why is it a good fit?
A: When we saw the announcement for the conference, we immediately decided that we needed to be involved in some capacity. At Wake Tech, we have such a strong commitment to the industry, and we’re always striving to stay on the cutting edge to help develop the workforce needed to meet industry demands. Data4Decisions helps us get the word out about our program and also helps connect the industry with our students, who are the workforce of tomorrow.
Q: What makes Raleigh stand out in the field of business analytics?
A: Raleigh is really fertile ground with important industry partners headquartered here—SAS, IBM, Quintiles and several others. With the combination of our local business demand and a strong talent pool coming out of our higher education institutions, we have the ideal opportunity to work together to drive innovation. Every day we read in the paper that there’s a new data center opening up—it’s an exciting time. I’ve been in Raleigh since 2008, and I’m very happy living here.