Making better business decisions with data analytics

Posted 2021-03-15

In today’s business landscape, employers are increasingly relying on data and statistics to help inform their decisions. As organizations experience the tangible benefits of evidence-backed decision-making, market demand is growing for professional data analysts.

A skilled data analyst can support an organization’s success by collecting, interpreting, summarizing and presenting relevant data to empower decision makers. Like shining a light in a dark cave, data analysts can reveal new information. Their analysis and insights give organizations a new advantage in terms of identifying new opportunities, addressing complex challenges, and helping to inform smart business strategies.

The UBC Sauder School of Business is meeting the market demand for analysts by offering a Master of Business Analytics (MBAN) degree. Students accepted into the 12-month program bring a wide variety of career backgrounds and professional experience. They spend nine months in the classroom learning technical and analytical skills within a broader business context. Then they’re placed in internships with local and national organizations where they apply their sought-after skills and knowledge.

Through an innovative partnership between UBC Sauder and Mitacs – a national not-for-profit whose mandate is to work with universities, companies and governments to support industrial and social innovation in Canada – employers may qualify to hire MBAN students and pay only 50 per cent of the cost (see below). 


Supporting hospitals and healthcare workers during COVID-19

Adnan Beg

Adnan Beg is a recent UBC Sauder MBAN graduate who works for Providence Health Care as a Business Intelligence Developer. He stores, analyzes and presents new patient data for various users and stakeholders.

“I work in Health Information Management, which is responsible for procuring patient data from hospitals in the Lower Mainland. My team creates innovative solutions that help in the decision-making process and we provide operational support to the healthcare workers using this data,” he explains. 

“Some of our recent analysis has been focused on COVID-19. For example, last year we looked at the trend of COVID patients visiting the hospitals and analyzed the effect it was having on other departments.”

Steve Sung, Regional Manager at Providence Health Care, says Beg arrived on the job with a strong foundation to solve real-life analytical problems related to healthcare. 

“In the summer of 2020, I recruited Adnan to help address the increased demand that Lower Mainland Health Information Management had gone through due to the pandemic,” says Sung. “Our overall experience with Adnan was so positive that after he completed his internship, I was able to offer him a full-time position and continue our working relationship.”



Applying data insights to fashion and entertainment 

Amy Chen

Fellow UBC Sauder MBAN graduate Amy Chen was also offered a full-time job after wrapping up her internship with Canadian women’s fashion brand, Aritzia.

“I interned as a Business Analyst for the Omni Channel Team where I worked on improving the holistic customer experience. I collaborated with different groups in the backend and the frontend of the company and provided business analysis,” says Chen.

Upon realizing she wanted to pursue a deeper focus on data, Chen transitioned to a Data Analyst role with video game company, Electronic Arts (EA). In her new job, she collects and analyzes data to offer actionable insights and recommendations for future FIFA game titles. 

“In many ways, a data analyst is one of the driving forces behind decision making,” explains Chen from her home-based office. “I transform data on our customers into valuable information that addresses the business needs of the teams that develop our products.”

According to Alexandra Bajc, Senior Analyst with EA and Chen’s manager: “Amy’s education and experience equipped her with not only the technical skills, but also the soft skills needed to excel in the role. She can define the problem, navigate the best approach to solving the problem, and effectively interpret and communicate the results to stakeholders who don’t come from analytical backgrounds.” 



Building a cost structure and pricing strategy at a 3D streaming service 

Shukai Zhang

Shukai Zhang is a UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce graduate who completed the UBC Sauder MBAN program last year and now works for PureWeb, a 3D, interactive, cloud streaming platform.

Data and business analysts are not just delivering value to large employers, they can also offer a broad range of capabilities to smaller organizations. 

“Initially, I was hired to investigate the inefficiencies in capacity utilization,” says Zhang. “Applying my data science knowledge, I was able to pin down the root causes of the issue and provide action items on the product roadmap to the R&D team. Moreover, having modeled the company’s cost structure, I helped to build our pricing from scratch.”

PureWeb’s Director of Product and Marketing, Ben Ospino, credits Zhang with improving the company’s bottom line.

“Shukai’s analysis resulted in a significant overhaul of product pricing and our quotation process, reducing the time to quote from three days to 20 minutes,” says Ospino. 

“Moreover, he took the initiative to apply statistical tests and provided evidence-based support for product improvements that resulted in a drop in our publishing pricing from US$ 0.08 to US$ 0.02 per server minute.”



An invaluable member of the team

Data analytics is a general-purpose technology that can be applied to almost any organization. While data analysts should not be mistaken for magicians, they can make significant contributions to streamline core business processes, optimize business performance, and elevate organizational decision-making.


Hire a skilled data analyst 

Employers interested in hiring a data and business analyst can partner with UBC Sauder and hire a Master of Business Analytics (MBAN) student on an internship.

Working with the Business Development team at UBC Sauder’s Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, employers are matched with qualified candidates who are employed to work on projects and help solve complex business challenges.