DIRPA’s MISSION: to better understand the business and analytic needs, challenges and opportunities of industry and community organizations throughout the globe.
Nearly every large company today collects vast amounts of data, and advances in computing power have made it possible to analyze that data in nearly unlimited ways. “To be able to analyze the data, to gain some business insights on the data, requires skills that come from training in analytics,” says Yongtao Guan, department chair and Leslie O. Barnes Professor of Management Science at the Miami Business School.
Guan is director of MBS’s new Deloitte Institute for Research & Practice in Analytics (DIRPA). Created in collaboration with Deloitte, the institute is helping students, faculty, and companies understand how to make the best use of all the data organizations collect. “All companies accumulate huge amounts of data, and they want to know how they can tap into the data to improve their bottom line or boost revenues, how to use the data to their advantage to stay competitive,” Guan says. “It’s about helping companies make more-intelligent business decisions.”
The institute brings together an industry powerhouse and a business school to study and teach analytics to help address a critical need. “Organizations need to translate data into smarter insights and stronger outcomes,” says Deloitte Florida and Puerto Rico Managing Partner Peter Pruitt, a member of the DIRPA board who helped spearhead both the gift and the institute’s founding. “Naturally, institutions that are educating leaders of the future have to provide robust learning opportunities to gain an understanding of transformative technologies, such as analytics, which is driving change and growth in business.”
Deloitte didn’t only provide funding and inspiration for DIRPA. The company’s executives are heavily involved in DIRPA’s activities as well, and four of them sit on its board: Pruitt; Kim Griffin-Hunter (BBA ’88, MBA ’95), East Region health sciences market leader and partner in the company’s Health Care & Life Sciences practice; Jay Miller, Miami office managing director for Deloitte Consulting; and Bert Naquin, managing director of the company’s Orlando office. They join MBS faculty members Guan; Joseph Johnson, associate professor of marketing; Robert Plant, department chair and associate professor of business technology; and Kay Tatum, associate professor of accounting.
DIRPA’s programs are open to students and faculty from across the University, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of applied analytics. “At Deloitte, data analytics is what we call a multidisciplinary practice,” Pruitt says. “It touches tax, audit & assurance, risk and financial advisory, and consulting.
In addition to touching nearly every industry and business function, analytics technology is developing more quickly than companies can keep up. “As more and more data becomes available, companies are falling behind in terms of using it,” Guan says. DIRPA can help them stay on top from leading practices and new algorithms to machine learning and artificial intelligence – and will produce graduates who are experienced with the latest tools, techniques and research.
DIRPA’s activities include academic courses in analytics, workshops presented by faculty and industry professionals for students across the University, seminars for industry, an Industry Speaker Series, supporting the Student Analytics Club, as well as certification workshops for students and faculty. Faculty members are teaching a series of four analytics courses to all Master of Accounting (MACC) and Master of Science in Taxation (MST) students, and Guan says faculty will create and teach more courses for specific programs and majors outside analytics. The institute also supports and encourages research in applied analytics by faculty from across the University; for instance, by giving research grants, purchasing large data sets, paying for attendance at conferences or lending expertise.
DIRPA also is helping MBS attract the best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students who want to study analytics, whether as undergrads or in the Master of Science in Business Analytics program – which had more than 500 applications for its most recent 96-student class. Students want to take advantage of DIRPA’s collaborations with industry, and they put high value on Deloitte having its name on the institute and being involved with many activities.
As part of the Deloitte Scholars program, scholarships are awarded to top undergraduate and graduate students who want to pursue careers related to analytics. Guan and Deloitte are working to identify ways to expand the Deloitte Scholars program.
DIRPA was developed in close coordination with members of Deloitte’s leadership team. The advisory board consists of Pruitt; Kim Griffin-Hunter, East Region Health Sciences market leader and a principal in the Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory LLP Health Care & Life Sciences practice; Jay Miller, Miami office managing director for Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Bert Naquin, managing director, of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s US Delivery Center in Orlando. They join MBS faculty members Guan; Joseph Johnson, associate professor of marketing; Robert Plant, department chair and associate professor of business technology; and Kay Tatum, associate professor of accounting.
Although DIRPA is just a few months old, it’s already advancing MBS’s teaching and research in analytics. Overall, Guan says, “it’s been a great opportunity to work with an organization like Deloitte.”
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