THE BLOG
12/07/2015 06:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Talking Analytics with Frank Armour of American University's Kogod School of Business

As I wrote in Too Big to Ignore, the era of Big Data and analytics is here. To this end, many colleges and universities are getting with the times. (My own alma mater Carnegie Mellon has launched an interdisciplinary program around data science.) But CMU is hardly alone. It's no overstatement to call the study of analytics in academia a burgeoning trend.

I recently sat down with Frank Armour, Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Technology, American University Kogod School of Business. The following is an excerpt of our conversation.

PS: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

FA: I grew up in upstate New York and received my PhD from the School of Engineering at George Mason University. In addition to my academic career, I have been an IT consultant for over 25 years, focusing on analytics, enterprise architectures, business and requirements analysis, and agile development.

PS: Why launch the Analytics@American program now?

FA: There has been an explosion of data in the last few years, with data-driven decision-making rapidly permeating just about every discipline. There is a critical need for professionals who know how to analyze and model the data, while simultaneously acting as a savvy consumer of analytics information.

However, McKinsey Global Institute projected a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 professionals with deep analytical skills, and 1.5 million managers who can analyze data and make decisions. To help address these shortfalls, we developed the Kogod MS in Business Analytics degree to educate students who wish learn and practice analytical reasoning, knowledge, and skills and apply it to their jobs. Specifically our program is designed to provide students the knowledge and skills to:


  1. formulate an organizational problem;
  2. identify the data necessary to analyze the problem;
  3. select the most appropriate methods and tools to conduct the analysis; and
  4. make data-driven decisions based on the results of this analysis.

PS: What differentiates the AU program from other Master of Science in Analytics (MSAn) programs?

FA: With a combination of live classes and self-paced coursework, our program focuses on the real-world implications of analytics. We offer working professionals a unique blend of analytics skills and functional specialization in business domains like finance, marketing, and cybersecurity.

Although the program is online, Analytics@American puts an emphasis on experiential learning. Our students solve real business challenges and work with real companies during Capstone Immersions - intensive in-person sessions that include talks from business leaders and a hands-on analytics project in Washington, D.C.

PS: Do you anticipate most of the graduates going into the private sector? What about nonprofit and government positions?

FA: We envision that, given the current broad-based multidiscipline need for analytics, our graduates will be well suited for careers across the spectrum, including for-profit companies, government agencies, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, and multilateral international organizations.

PS: Look into your crystal ball for a moment. What's the future of analysts?

FA: Future application of analytics is unlimited. For example, a mobile app called Bridj learns the transit habits of travelers and pinpoints their location in real time to meet demand with a dynamic pop-up bus service. What's more, the data of human DNA are now being used to forecast probability of disease and to develop customized treatment. Analysts can expect to play a hand in collecting insights that can change individual lives - as well as society as a whole.