University to begin construction on new Business Analytics Lab

The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce announced a partnership with Statistical Analysis System Institute, a leader in business analytics software and services, on Thursday for the college’s new Business Analytics Lab. 

SAS representatives met with President Judy Bonner, Culverhouse Dean J. Michael Hardin and various members of the business community to sign documents to seal the partnership. SAS is the third sponsor to join the project, along with Lockheed Martin and Healthcare Business Solutions.

“Two years ago, I was looking for what is the next trend," Hardin said. “I knew the next step in the evolution of analytics was how to handle larger data.”

Construction will begin soon on the lab, located in Bidgood Hall. Steve Rager, senior account executive for SAS, said they will provide various software including SAS Visual Analytics, SAS Visual Statistics and SAS Office Analytics.

“Almost all of the products SAS has had over the years have been embedded in the high-performance analytics,” said Jerry L. Oglesby, SAS senior director of global academic and certification programs. “So I think you’ll just continue to see growth on both of those packages where you get more and more capabilities built into the individual packages.” 

Hardin and Oglesby began collaborating on the idea in 2002 when the University and SAS began to offer a joint-certificate program in analytics. Program graduates typically earn salaries $10,000 to $15,000 higher than those without analytics experience. 

“The really great thing about it, too, is being able to have students have access in it while they’re in the programs here on campus,” said Rob Harper, national sales manager for SAS. “When they go out to the jobs and corporations around the globe, they’ve got that real world experience in the use of the analytical technology.”

The Culverhouse College of Commerce is the only school in the state with an analytics lab. Hardin said the idea came from Procter and Gamble and involves data-driven visualization. The state-of-the-art software provides a mobile platform that can be used on devices such as iPhones.

“We want to prepare our students to go out and get the best jobs in the country and work for, if you will excuse the analogy, the NFL of the business world,” Hardin said. “We wanted to give them the tools so that they would be able to do that.”

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