Business analysts are in high demand throughout companies in both the public and private sectors. If you think about it, what company doesn’t have the need to gather, analyze and present critical data? And analysts who can distill that information and present it in a useful way so that top decision makers can use it to inform real-world decisions are even more appealing.
Or, as Newman University Assistant Professor of Strategic Intelligence Scott McIntosh succinctly summarized, “We can do the best analysis in the world, but if we’re not able to communicate it, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Hence the creation of Newman University’s new Business & Strategic Intelligence online program that began last fall semester. Housed within the School of Business, the major in Business & Strategic Intelligence offers students the tools to succeed professionally and intellectually in a climate of rapid and profound global change.
The curriculum prepares students to perform analysis for agencies in business, public service, security and criminal justice. The sheer volume of data in today’s world requires the ability to disseminate what data is useful, and then present it in an actionable format for senior decision makers.
It also focuses on instructing students how to think strategically, attain proficiency with pertinent mathematics, information technology and other professional tools, identifying trends, and presenting analytics in clear, concise oral and written formats.
Newman University describes the education students will gain as “holistic.” McIntosh elaborated on this, “We can come up with the best analysts in the world, but if they don’t have those soft skills to get up in front of not just one person, but a group of people who are making decisions and convey that information, then we’re sunk. So there’s a communications angle to this that is pretty robust, and also being able to write reports — not just reading other people’s reports, but being able to take an aggregate of multiple reports and write a single report that’s more concise.”
This holistic approach also involves providing students with a thorough understanding of the role of analytics in today’s world, and how their application has evolved over the years by covering touchstones like: International Relations Theory, The Cold War, Critical Thinking and Psychology in Intelligence Analysis, Data Visualization, Open-Source Intelligence and Media Analysis, Law Enforcement Intelligence/Countering Terror, Intelligence Collection, and Law and Ethics in Intelligence Analysis.
Said McIntosh, “We want to give them the historical foundation of why the world is the way it is now. Because we’re still dealing with the aftershocks of the 20th century. The International Relations course talks about how nations interact with each other, and we’ve also got a macroeconomics curriculum course that is mandated so that we can understand how nations trade with each other. It’s really a poli-sci, macroeconomics, international perspective.”
Students will also use various industry-wide software programs for making graphs and charts to create useful presentations that can be easily deciphered by people who have to make quick decisions under pressure. Students are also instructed to effectively apply due diligence by understanding the capabilities, limitations, rule sets and environment within which this information is collected.
There are no prerequisites to enter the program, and, “One of the great things about this is it can be done 100-percent online, so wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing, if you can get internet access you can complete this degree in under two years,” said McIntosh. The program also offers multiple start dates throughout the year to best meet student needs.
The BSI faculty is comprised of carefully selected scholar/practitioners from various backgrounds, including full-time faculty and seasoned specialists who will introduce students to emerging theory and current best practices.
McIntosh, himself a veteran 20-year analyst in the United States Air Force, is the principal instructor, but he said, “We bring in adjuncts: Military legal experts, for instance, law enforcement; we’ve got guys from cyber who come in, and it dovetails with our robust onsite data analytics program.”
The program’s emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills offers graduates the confidence and preparation to pursue a competitive intelligence career and study opportunities in a wide variety of public and private vocations. McIntosh cited potential careers as, “Certainly military and law enforcement. We are working toward first responders, as well as industry.”
Although the program is still too fresh to have yielded graduates, “We’ve already had some data analytics industries that have been interested in what we’re doing,” he said with regard to career placement.
In closing, McIntosh shared his enthusiasm for the program, as well as the value it will have for the future industries the graduates will serve, and the world at large. “I’m excited about what we’re doing, I’m passionate about coming to work every day and educating other people to be analysts, because we need them right now.”
For details about earning an undergraduate degree in Business & Strategic Intelligence at Newman University, or to enroll, call 877-NEWMAN (639-6268) or visit newmanu.edu/academics/undergraduate/business-strategic-intelligence.