Kalyan Talluri

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This week, we announced the launch of MSc Business Analytics (Online) which will commence teaching in October 2018, taking our highly regarded MSc Business Analytics to the online and global market. We caught up with Programme Director Professor Kalyan Talluri, who explains how MSc Business Analytics (Online) came about.

How did MSc Business Analytics (Online) come about?

When we launched MSc Business Analytics, it was one of the first programmes in the world that taught analytics and big data tools in the context of business problems, and it has been very successful. However, in our conversations with companies we found that there are a lot of employees who want to upgrade their skills or move laterally within their firm, whilst keeping their full-time job, who were unable to consider a full-time programme. We started the programme to cater to this group of people who felt they were missing out on the new data revolution, whilst still targeting recent graduates. 

How does MSc Business Analytics (Online) compare to a short course in data analytics?

The obvious difference is that it offers a degree certification, and there are not many programmes that offer that. In terms of content, MSc Business Analytics (Online) is a more rigorous, complete programme that offers depth as well as breadth; we have designed the programme from the ground up, creating a whole programme offering. 

Students are not only selected carefully, but also go through a rigorous examination and evaluation process, and so our graduates have a stamp for employers that everyone we graduate is thoroughly trained. To achieve this, nothing comes close to a full and thorough degree program.

What can students expect to learn on the programme?

The content of the programme is almost identical to the on-campus MSc Business Analytics. Students can expect to learn solid technical skills in programming, including R, Python and SQL, data structures and algorithms. More importantly, they’ll learn skills in optimization, econometrics and statistics, networks and machine learning. Industry-specific application is core to the programme, and students learn to apply their mastery of tools to real business problems.

You will also attend two intensive study periods at our campus in central London for focused, when you will attend revision sessions with faculty and boot camps in preparation for your exams.

Can students apply what they learn at work?

MSc Business Analytics (Online) is designed to have real business application, immediately. For students who are working and studying at the same time, it can start a stimulating dialogue between what they are learning and how they can apply it to their job.

The Work-Based Project provides you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills achieved across the programme to a challenging business situation in which you are fully immersed, developing your skills in a specific business context.

What are the advantages of the online programme compared to the on-campus MSc?

The programmes are mostly the same, but delivered through different formats. The online format offers more collaboration because students can see each other’s work in real time. We use more pedagogical tools in the online delivery of the programmes, e.g. simulations, videos and research.

Faculty interaction takes place via live sessions and consultations, and dedicated tutors interact via weekly live sessions, assignment feedback, drop-in sessions, and online messaging channels. Weekly synchronous online classes, assigned syndicate groups, ongoing peer-to-peer support and two visits to our campus in London, mean that you will experience a strong sense of community and interaction throughout the programme.

It will be a rich learning experience and we’re actually thinking about how the online programme can percolate back into the offline programme – that’s how we see the future of pedagogy!

What are the key features of the technology that will be used to deliver the programme?

Students use videos to follow lectures wherever, whenever, but that is just one element.  We have a large department dedicated to online learning called EdTech who developed a customised platform for interaction between students, lecturers or tutors, as well as interactive simulations, live sessions, and quizzes. The Business School already uses the technology to deliver the Global Online MBA programme.

Are you excited about launching the online format?

I’m very excited about the online delivery of the programme. Online pedagogy is very different, and the way people learn online is also very different, and we want to create an online infrastructure that makes it all a very rich and efficient learning experience. When you learn online, you have access to a huge amount of information in parallel that you wouldn’t have sitting in a classroom where everything is channelled through a lecturer.  You also attend lectures and study when you are in the right mood for it – it’s definitely a more efficient way of studying.

Why is business analytics an important skill for employees?

Data, data collection and the use of data in the internet of things and social media is the big story of the 21st century. Firms are struggling with how to use this data effectively in their day-to-day operations and in defining their strategic position for competitive advantage. Analytics is the discipline of the century for businesses.

What is the attractiveness of MSc Business Analytics (Online) to someone looking to accelerate their career?

The big advantage is that students can study the programme flexibly online whilst having a full-time job. Students choose the pace at which they work to suit their work patterns. For example, if you have a big project coming up, you might plan to listen to more lectures and do the quizzes in the weeks leading up and after to compensate for the study time.

The programme is also attractive if you’re looking to switch careers, for example, from the finance to the retail industry. It exposes you to skills from different industries and the industry-specific questions they’re trying to answer when using the data.

Why is Imperial the place to study business analytics?

Imperial College Business School was one of the pioneers of business analytics. We were one of the first few to offer a solid technical analytics programme in a business school, as opposed to a computer science or statistics department.

We have three years’ experience of delivering the on-campus programme and it’s grown into a polished programme with a strong faculty and tutor pool. Our corporate links and our strong and active Business Advisory Board mean we know what businesses are looking for in analytics graduates.

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