Growing role of analytics in management education

By Owen P. Hall Jr.

Management education has come a long way since Sir Isaac Pitman initiated the first correspondence course in the early 1840s. Today, business schools are under growing pressure to engage in significant reforms due to the impact of globalization, new learning technologies and unprecedented economic uncertainty. The increasing use of analytics in business and government as a vehicle to improve efficiency and performance suggests that schools of business should follow suit.

The analytics paradigm, which emerged in part from the Internet revolution, can be used to enhance management education in the following ways:

  1. Provide a conceptual setting for expanding student managerial decision-making expertise.
  2. Assess student performance and identify appropriate additional learning resources via intelligent tutors.
  3. Offer business school administrators the capability to optimize operational effectiveness.

Identifying the “best” approach for teaching students and training professionals in modern decision-making and problem solving lies at the heart of the analytics movement. The pedagogical issue at hand is orientation. The empirical evidence suggests that the learning focus should be on applying analytics and not on drilling down into the mathematical structures. The learning goal should be to develop general analytic and quantitative problem-solving skills. The curriculum should be designed in such a way as to create an environment where the student becomes comfortable in using a wide variety of decision support tools.

This is where mobile learning can play an important role.

issues in o.r. education

The learning goal should be to develop general analytic and quantitative problem-solving skills.

Typically, mobile learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge through conversations across multiple contexts via interactive technologies. Mobile learning is designed to significantly alter the three pillars of traditional management instruction – fixed time, fixed location and fixed learning pace – with a more flexible and customized learning environment. The pairing of mobile learning with the analytics paradigm provides a vehicle for effectively integrating analytical based decision-making and problem solving into the curriculum. The analytics paradigm also provides business school administrators with the capability to better manage the institution’s strategic and tactical resources by reforming the traditional decision-making process.

Today, most business schools are facing intense competition and demanding students. These forces tend to drive up the cost of student acquisition and retention. The emergence of the Internet generation as the new student body, who are Web savvy and heavily engaged in social media, requires institutions to develop a more robust, nimble and real-time response capability. Properly aligned with the school’s mission, the analytics paradigm offers the promise of strengthening student learning and employment opportunities as well as improving institutional operational efficiencies.

Custer at Little Big Horn

I’m not saying that I don’t accept some responsibility for what’s happened here today. But if our data-mining techniques had been a little more sophisticated, we would have known that this was a bad idea from the get-go ... (WSJ, 11/24/12).

Owen P. Hall Jr. ( is a professor of decision sciences at the Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University.

Editor’s Note:
Individuals interested in contributing to the “Issues in Education” column in OR/MS Today should contact Matt Drake (