Course Spotlight: Information Systems and Analytics (BUS577)

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The Google Adwords team in BUS 577 with MBA students (left to right): Alyx Jeffries, April Tagliaferri, Aminata Dieng, Feyisola Alabi

Information Systems and Analytics, BUS 577, is a class with Dr. Rachel Chung on the strategic management of technology, information, and people from a Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) perspective. This course, as part of Chatham University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, encourages students to discover how information systems transform business analytics, Big Data, and evidence-based decision-making. These lessons are explored through a blend of readings, guest speakers, research projects, and presentations.

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Students read “The Adventures of an IT Leader”, a novel on IT management

One of the primary readings of the course is a novel called Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert D. Austin. Several students noted the value of this text as it delves into the true function and significance of the Information Technology (IT) department. Unlike a textbook, this fictional novel gives a firsthand look into navigating the IT department through the lens of a first-time CIO. Students also frequently referred to articles from Harvard Business Review and CIO Insider throughout the semester.

Alongside readings, students had the opportunity to meet IT and Big Data professionals through in-class networking events and guest speakers. As highlighted earlier in the semester, Chatham’s Business & Entrepreneurship Department hosted the Information Systems Mixer in September for BUS577 students. In October, Karl Herleman, the Vice President of Information Technology, Strategy, and Innovation at Management Science Associates (MSA, Inc.), presented “How have agile methods and big data changed software development?” Following was a presentation on “Transforming Digital Advertising with Machine Learning and AI” by Doug Donohoe, Site Leader, and Mark Torrance, CTO, of Rocket Fuel, Inc. Students were visited in November by Eric Rosenberg, Data Science Consultant, who currently works with Duquesne Light, for a presentation on Big Data.

To conclude the semester, students presented their final projects to a panel of industry professionals including:

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Eric Harvey, President and CTO of Imagine Careers, introduces himself to the class as a panelist for the final presentation

The final presentations were group projects that delve into the business value and organization challenges of utilizing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data warehouses, and other business-technology systems. Students created websites to report their research findings throughout the semester. The ERP team, with students Leah Umile, Jennifer Lantz, Sarah Kolcun, Philip Urban, and Florian Post, shares their experience: “Our team has learned so much from this class, and especially from working collaboratively on this project. Creating our website was something we thought was challenging at the beginning of the semester, but we are so glad we had the opportunity to do it. Our website can be viewed at ERPChatham.blogspot.com.”

MBA candidate Aimee Hagerty, member of the Google Analytics team and Director of Education and Transplant Quality at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hamot, reflects on her project experience: “As a clinical healthcare practitioner, Google Analytics is not a tool I had ever heard of or used. This project allowed me to learn about a product that has the ability to provide valuable insights to a company about website usage. Through this project and course, I have a greater appreciation for the IT functions of a business, IT decision-making, and how IT contributes to the bottom line of a business.”

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The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) team with MBA students (left to right): Philip Urban, Jennifer Lantz, Sarah Kolcun, Leah Umile and Florian Post

Overall, students have gained a better understanding of the IS and analytics industry, as well as a greater appreciation of the IT department within the companies for which they work. “This course and experience added another dimension to my work. I have the knowledge to improve communication at work through relational databases, and I now understand the critical need for safety and security within information systems,” adds student Jan Cipkala-Gaffin, Ph.D.,  member of the class’s Customer Relationship Management group, and Nurse Scientist at UPMC.

As technology becomes an increasingly important part of business strategy, companies and business professionals must recognize the value of information technology and utilize it for a competitive advantage. This Information Systems and Analytics course is one of many esteemed classes in Chatham’s Masters of Business Administration program. The program and its professors value real-world learning opportunities that encourage students to think in a creative and professional manner. To learn more about other courses in the MBA program, read other Class Spotlight posts and visit the program curriculum.

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