When making crucial choices that can lead an organization to its boom or its doom, business professionals have access to an abundance of data thanks to myriad web analytics tools. But when it comes to interpreting the data, it’s critical to have a working knowledge of the latest tools of the trade. Now, two dedicated business analytics laboratories at Ithaca College will provide students with hands-on experience to help them thrive in a world that relies on data to drive innovation.
The endowment to create the lab spaces, slated to open in the fall of 2019 in the Roy H. and Dorothy D. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, was established by John J. Neeson, a 1984 School of Business alumnus. Neeson’s gifts support the creation of the Neeson Business Analytics Lab and the Neeson Digital Marketing and Analytics Lab and establish the John Neeson ’84 Endowed Software and Database Fund to support software updates and future upgrades to the Neeson Business Analytics Lab.
One of the two forthcoming lab spaces is currently an electronic classroom that will receive a full upgrade with modern workspaces. Business administration students will use the classroom, as well as students who choose to take advantage of the School of Business’s minor in analytics (classes in the new lab space will be open to all students at IC, not only those who are enrolled in the School of Business).
The second space will also receive an upgrade, transforming from a technology-free conference room to a robust analytics lab where students can conduct research and develop projects. While it is common to find educational resources such as virtual trading rooms in business schools across the country, IC’s School of Business will be among the very few institutions (and the first of its size compared to far larger competitors) to offer lab spaces fully dedicated to the study of analytics.
“The analytics labs in the School of Business will provide students with resources and hands-on experience that will empower them to understand and adapt to evolving business trends across all industries,” said School of Business Dean Sean Reid. “Our community is very grateful to John Neeson for his incredible support of IC’s students and Ithaca College.”
John Neeson, president of IC’s Class of 1984 and crew team commodore during his time as a student, views his contribution to the college as “an opportunity to help the school achieve its vision and create an experience that builds on what the school already offers. It’s my hope that students will get more thorough experience with digital marketing, have access to the latest tools and techniques, and graduate with real experience.”
Describing some of the concepts that students will explore through their work in the labs, Department of Marketing professor and chair Scott Erickson shared, “Students will learn how to apply customer relationship management (CRM) systems, making marketing decisions based on customer activities and communications. They will also develop skills in using predictive tools such as regression, neural networks, decision trees, and clustering, all of which will help prepare students for the new, data-driven environment in marketing.”
“As a student studying marketing and analytics, I am very excited for the labs,” shared business administration major Rachel Cadet ’20. Cadet, who is planning to obtain a minor in analytics, is most looking forward to gaining hands-on experience with the latest tools through the new analytics labs. “I think having the opportunity to learn software that’s currently used in the industry I am going to pursue will definitely help propel my career.”