Business Analytics


Introduction

In this Nanodegree, you’ll learn to frame business challenges as data questions. You’ll use powerful tools and methods such as Excel, Tableau, and MySQL to analyze data, create forecasts and models, design visualizations, and communicate your insights. In the final Capstone Project, you’ll apply your skills to explore and justify improvements to a real-world business process.

Course Syllabus

Data Science for Data-Driven Companies

In this course, you will learn best practices for how to use data analytics to make any company more competitive and more profitable. You will be able to recognize the most critical business metrics and distinguish them from mere data.


You’ll get a clear picture of the vital but different roles business analysts, business data analysts, and data scientists each play in various types of companies. And you’ll know exactly what skills are required to be hired for, and succeed at, these high-demand jobs.


Finally, you will be able to use a checklist provided in the course to score any company on how effectively it is embracing big data culture. Digital companies like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb are transforming entire industries through their creative use of big data. You’ll understand why these companies are so disruptive and how they use data-analytics techniques to out-compete traditional companies.

Mastering Data Analysis 

The focus of this course is on math - specifically, data-analysis concepts and methods - not on Excel for its own sake. We use Excel to do our calculations, and all math formulas are given as Excel Spreadsheets, but we do not attempt to cover Excel Macros, Visual Basic, Pivot Tables, or other intermediate-to-advanced Excel functionality.


This course will prepare you to design and implement realistic predictive models based on data. In the Final Project (week 6) you will assume the role of a business data analyst for a bank, and develop two different predictive models to determine which applicants for credit cards should be accepted and which rejected. Your first model will focus on minimizing default risk, and your second on maximizing bank profits. The two models should demonstrate to you in a practical, hands-on way the idea that your choice of business metric drives your choice of an optimal model.
The second big idea this course seeks to demonstrate is that your data-analysis results cannot and should not aim to eliminate all uncertainty. Your role as a data-analyst is to reduce uncertainty for decision-makers by a financially valuable increment, while quantifying how much uncertainty remains. You will learn to calculate and apply to real-world examples the most important uncertainty measures used in business, including classification error rates, entropy of information, and confidence intervals for linear regression.


All the data you need is provided within the course, all assignments are designed to be done in MS Excel, and you will learn enough Excel to complete all assignments. The course will give you enough practice with Excel to become fluent in its most commonly used business functions, and you’ll be ready to learn any other Excel functionality you might need in the future.


The course does not cover Visual Basic or Pivot Tables and you will not need them to complete the assignments. All advanced concepts are demonstrated in individual Excel spreadsheet templates that you can use to answer relevant questions. You will emerge with substantial vocabulary and practical knowledge of how to apply business data analysis methods based on binary classification (week 2), information theory and entropy measures (week 3), and linear regression (week 4 and 5), all using no software tools more complex than Excel.

Data Visualization and Communication with Tableau

One of the skills that characterizes great business data analysts is the ability to communicate practical implications of quantitative analyses to any kind of audience member.  Even the most sophisticated statistical analyses are not useful to a business if they do not lead to actionable advice, or if the answers to those business questions are not conveyed in a way that non-technical people can understand.  


In this course you will learn how to become a master at communicating business-relevant implications of data analyses.  By the end, you will know how to structure your data analysis projects to ensure the fruits of your hard labor yield results for your stakeholders.  You will also know how to streamline your analyses and highlight their implications efficiently using visualizations in Tableau, the most popular visualization program in the business world.  Using other Tableau features, you will be able to make effective visualizations that harness the human brain’s innate perceptual and cognitive tendencies to convey conclusions directly and clearly.  Finally, you will be practiced in designing and persuasively presenting business “data stories” that use these visualizations, capitalizing on business-tested methods and design principles.

Managing Big Data with MySQL

This course is an introduction to how to use relational databases in business analysis.  You will learn how relational databases work, and how to use entity-relationship diagrams to display the structure of the data held within them.  This knowledge will help you understand how data needs to be collected in business contexts, and help you identify features you want to consider if you are involved in implementing new data collection efforts.  You will also learn how to execute the most useful query and table aggregation statements for business analysts, and practice using them with real databases. No more waiting 48 hours for someone else in the company to provide data to you – you will be able to get the data by yourself!


By the end of this course, you will have a clear understanding of how relational databases work, and have a portfolio of queries you can show potential employers. Businesses are collecting increasing amounts of information with the hope that data will yield novel insights into how to improve businesses. Analysts that understand how to access this data – this means you! – will have a strong competitive advantage in this data-smitten business world.

Project:Increasing Real Estate Management Profits: Harnessing Data Analytics

In this final course you will complete a Capstone Project using data analysis to recommend a method for improving profits for your company, Eureka Property Management, Inc. Eureka is responsible for managing thousands of residential rental properties throughout the United States. Your job is to persuade Eureka’s management team to pursue a new strategy for managing its properties that will increase their profits. To do this, you will: (1) Elicit information about important variables relevant to your analysis; (2) Draw upon your new MySQL database skills to extract relevant data from a real estate database; (3) Implement data analysis in Excel to identify the best opportunities for Watershed to increase revenue and maximize profits, while managing any new risks; (4) Create a Tableau dashboard to show Eureka executives the results of a sensitivity analysis; and (5) Articulate a significant and innovative business process change for Eureka based on your data analysis, that you will recommend to company executives.

Tech Partners

IBM, Microsoft, Tableau, MySQL

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