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On Thursday October 8th I had the pleasure of visiting the students taking Notre Dame’s SAP Predictive Analytics course in the Mendoza College of Business.  The overview of the course from Notre Dame’s course catalog reads as follows:

• Gain hands on experience using analytic solutions from SAP. Topics include reporting using SAP Business Objects Analysis, and data mining using SAP Predictive Analysis. Students are introduced to SAP Business Objects and SAP Crystal analytic applications with a focus on hands-on exercises covering end user analytics. The focus is hands-on exercises covering developer-focused analytics.

Professor Bob Lewandowski is the instructor of the class and he invited me to solicit student feedback and talk about SAP Analytics with the participants and to witness their final class presentations.  I asked the students to share any big insights or surprises that they experienced in the class and have summarized the key points below.

• Based on experiencing other analytics tools, students were impressed with how SAP software is easy to use and intuitive in nature

• Particularly interesting to use analytics to visualize data – a powerful method for communicating insights

• Found that big data sets can require a lot of cleansing to properly prepare them for thoughtful analysis

• Raw data presents ambiguity at times which is why using robust analytical tools is so important

This year’s class had the unique opportunity to work with a massive State of Indiana traffic crash data set that has been provided to Notre Dame for academic use both in the business school and the one year ESTEEM master’s program.  You can read more about this unique partnership in my previous communication about the ESTEEM project. In this class, undergraduate students were able to analyze ten years of accident data to look for unique insights such as correlations between driver demographics, road conditions, or even drivers affected by alcohol.  Working in teams, they produced excellent final presentations with specific recommendations for state leaders on how to reduce traffic fatalities.  It is a wonderful way to bring real world problems to the classroom, use SAP Analytics to study them and then provide potential solutions for public good.

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