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KNOXVILLE–The new motion picture Moneyball tells the story of how a general manager uses modern-day analytics and statistics to change the age-old tradition of baseball.

The results were millions of dollars in savings and five trips to the playoffs.

This is the power of “business analytics.” It is the focus of coursework being offered in the College of Business Administration’s Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science (SOMS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The success described in Moneyball required a deep understanding of the subject matter, a willingness to challenge current thinking, the use of data to gain insights, and an ability to present the approach to skeptics in a language they could understand.

UT’s program develops these kinds of skills, said Ken Gilbert, head of UT’s SOMS.

“Our business analytics curriculum prepares students to be agents of change in their organizations, not just number crunchers,” he said.

UT offers several options for students to get a business analytics education, including a master’s degree in business analytics, a dual-degree MBA/master’s degree in business analytics program, a business analytics MBA concentration, and an undergraduate degree in business analytics.

“We know of no other school in the nation providing this scope of business analytics offerings,” said Jan Williams, dean of UT’s business school. “Strengthening our graduates’ proficiency in business analytics is one of the college’s four strategic initiatives.”

Students learn data analysis and quantitative modeling skills to solve business problems and achieve better business performance. Additionally, they gain knowledge of core business topics, develop communication skills, and solve team-based, real-world business problems.

Organizations are searching for employees that have strong analytical and business skills. A 2009 online survey of seventy-five corporations in twenty-seven different industries conducted by Dobson Analytics Inc. found that, on average, these corporations expected to almost double the current size of their analytics staff within the next two years.

UT’s business analytics program encompasses four overlapping areas:

  • Data mining: uncovering information from a company’s database of historical records to discover trends and predict consumer behavior
  • Business process optimization: understanding and simplifying complex business decisions and processes
  • Applied business statistics: collecting and analyzing data to gain business insights
  • Business intelligence: providing decision-makers with real-time information for making decisions

In most universities, statistics is housed in the college of arts and sciences; UT Knoxville is one of the few schools to recognize the power of statistics in business applications. The 2009 Rothkopf rankings support this finding, placing UT’s Department of Statistics, Operations, and Management Science among the top twenty programs worldwide in the field.

For more information about the program, visit http://bus.utk.edu/soms/analytics/index.htm.

For more information about the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, visit http://bus.utk.edu.


Cindy Raines (865-974-4359, craines1@utk.edu)

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)