By Regina Stracqualursi

Every day, I realize the major role that technology plays in modern society. I wake up and immediately grab my phone to check my email, Facebook, and Instagram before getting out of bed. I rely on my Google Home to tell me the weather as I’m getting ready for work and start my car from an app on my phone so I don’t have to go outside. During my morning commute, my GPS keeps me updated on what route to take based on current traffic trends. My Fitbit tracks how many steps I take each day and my Apple Airpods allow me the convenience of listening to music and making phone calls with a wireless connection. Before bed, I’ll often read on my tablet or watch an episode of the latest hit series on Netflix or Hulu. There is no doubt that technology has become a dominant part of everyday life. From the moment we wake up to the moment we got to sleep, technology plays a role in almost everything we do.

What we don’t often think about with our constant connection to technology is the amount of data that is generated as a result of our actions. Everyone leaves behind their own digital footprint and with the rise of social media and other related technologies, 21st-century businesses have access to more data than ever before.

While data has the power and potential to solve major societal challenges, the increase in the amount of data available to businesses today has brought to light a change in the skills and training needed to be a successful leader. Traditional business training alone will no longer prepare individuals for a world that is becoming increasingly data-driven. In order to succeed, business leaders now need to know how to both analyze and think critically about data and then use that data to make decisions that will improve and grow businesses.

“Over the last several years, with the advances in computing power and the pervasiveness of data, the potential value of analytics and data sciences has become clear to businesses globally,” said Ed See, Rensselaer alumnus and partner at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. “Companies are now looking to data science programs to create data science professionals who not only can develop and create the analytics but also be able to translate those into business actions and business impact.”

The Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has taken a step to tackle this industry challenge by adding a bachelor’s degree in business analytics to its lineup of degree offerings. The program combines traditional core business subjects such as finance, marketing, and accounting with advanced math and computer science in order to equip students with skills and experience in both business and data science.

This new degree offering builds upon a data dexterity requirement for all students that Rensselaer announced last year. With the first such requirement in the nation, Rensselaer strives to produce graduates who can use diverse datasets to solve problems regardless of their field of study.

In recent years, it has become clear that data science is no longer an isolated field but rather a vital skill that needs to be applied to all disciplines in order to understand and solve complex problems.