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Kellogg Champions Analytics in Management

Kellogg equips leaders to play a crucial role in the successful use of data science in business

Highlights

  • Kellogg’s Florian Zettelmeyer: "This is a true revolution we are involved in."
  • Big data and analytics change how decisions are made within a company
  • School launched Program on Data Analytics, one of seven pathways for students
  • Training the managers of the data scientists who crunch the actual numbers

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Long before “big data” was a buzzword, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management was thinking about the impact of analytics and data science on the way businesses and managers operate.

Kellogg believes that data analytics is a managerial problem above all, and argues that effective business leaders need a working knowledge of data science to reap the rewards of big data and analytics. Analytics requires managerial judgment and incentive changes and is most effective when problem-driven; as a result, managers play a crucial role in the success of its implementation.

“This is a true revolution we are involved in,” said Florian Zettelmeyer, the Nancy L. Ertle Professor of Marketing and faculty director of the Program on Data Analytics at Kellogg. “What is different about big data and analytics is that they change how decisions are made within the company. If companies correctly take advantage of it, it’s a fundamental transformation with businesses making decisions based off actual evidence and not gut feeling.”

The professional opportunities for students are immense and tremendously exciting.”

Joel Shapiro
Clinical Associate Professor and Executive Director for the Program on Data Analytics at Kellogg

To address this market need, the school established the Program on Data Analytics and made it one of seven curricular pathways available to students. More than 20 faculty members bring expertise from a range of disciplines and teach a wide spectrum of courses that are relentlessly problem-driven yet grounded in methods and applications.

Kellogg has also expanded its range of data analytics classes from 30 in the fall of 2012 to 58 in spring 2016. This coincides with a spike in student interest, with enrollment in data analytics courses increasing by 93 percent over the past five years. Today, more than half of Kellogg students have taken at least one data analytics class.

Data-driven courses in the pathway, like the popular Customer Analytics class, teach students to tackle managerial problems using analytics as a framework. They allow students to acquire the quantitative skills necessary for a manager to work confidently with data scientists who are crunching the actual numbers. Course offerings also extend into Executive Education with Leading with Big Data and Analytics, which is a staple in the open enrollment course offerings that is offered several times each year.

As a focus area within Kellogg’s Markets and Customers Initiative, the Program on Data Analytics ultimately seeks to generate and disseminate knowledge for business leaders. “Data Analytics is a topic that spans traditional disciplinary boundaries and is strengthened by our diverse bench of faculty expertise,” said Thomas Hubbard, Faculty Director of Kellogg’s Strategic Initiatives. “As emerging leaders, Kellogg graduates will be asked to leverage analytics to solve increasingly complex challenges.”

To ensure that students’ skill sets remain relevant and appealing to employers, Kellogg professors regularly spend time with leading edge analytics companies like IBM Advanced Analytics Lab, Facebook, Nielsen, Allstate and Cisco to meet with data analytics executives and discuss their most pressing business challenges.

Beyond the classroom, these faculty immersion trips result in both formal and informal partnerships between Kellogg professors and industry leaders, as evidenced by the recent Facebook-Kellogg whitepaper that compared advertising measurement approaches. Kellogg Insight explored the findings of Zettelmeyer and Brett Gordon, associate professor of marketing, in collaboration with Facebook researchers.

As a result of this targeted and highly relevant training, Kellogg students and recent graduates are landing data analytics-focused internships and full-time employment at companies including Amazon, Nike, Adobe Systems, Gap and Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.

“The professional opportunities for students are immense and tremendously exciting,” said Joel Shapiro, Clinical Associate Professor and Executive Director for the Program on Data Analytics at Kellogg. “It is hard to overstate the value of someone who can merge business strategy with a rigorous data analytics decision-making mindset and capability. Those people are in short supply, and they will succeed quickly. These are the students we educate.”

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