The Big Deal About Big Data

Students learning about big data
In today’s age, business and data go hand-in-hand. Understanding how to read, interpret, and filter big data is fundamental to all strategic business decisions, so it has become increasingly important for students to gain exposure to this skill set.
Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama has made it a priority to support students through the development of several programs and initiatives that allow them to explore the significance of data as it relates to business.


The Institute of Data and Analytics was founded in 2015 and functions as a research hub for Culverhouse. The IDA supports five major priorities: cybersecurity, health informatics, human trafficking, humanitarian challenges, and the business intelligence academy. Through these programs, students work extensively with IDA-affiliated faculty to address problems affecting society today and conceptualize business solutions using data and research as guides. Housed within the IDA is the Marillyn A. Hewson Data Analytics Lab, a state-of-the-art research facility and collaborative workspace that fosters the pursuit of sponsored research and the formation of data processes like storage, management, analytics, and insights.

The IDA, in conjunction with Culverhouse, hosts the Business Analytics Symposium each year, bringing together industry experts and students to propel the conversation about data and analytics forward. This event provides students with a unique opportunity to network with notable professionals who have vast experience utilizing data and analytics to maximize business success.

This year, the Business Analytics Symposium was in October and featured speakers that work in high-level executive roles at Visa, Delta Air Lines, Wyndham Destination, USAA, and IBM.


Some students may build on that foundational knowledge and decide to enroll in programs offered by our Manderson Graduate School of Business, particularly the business analytics concentration of our Manderson MBA Program or masters of business analytics and masters of management information systems. As an example, The Manderson Master of Science in Business Analytics, or MSBA, is a one-year (June to May), on-campus, full-time program that prepares students for analytics positions in industry and government. Students will learn to use state-of-the-art software and methodologies to manage data, transform it in a manner that provides valuable business insight, and interpret and communicate their results effectively. “Data analytics is an essential skill for today’s emerging business professionals. The abilities to explore, measure, and translate information are vital to operations in corporate environments and beyond,” said Dr. Jason Parton, director of the Institute of Data and Analytics and assistant professor of statistics at Culverhouse.


Hewson Hall is the newest, 108,000 square-foot addition to Culverhouse College of Business campus and has quickly become the heart of the business school. The building contains 31 collaboration rooms, 22 high-tech classrooms, three conference rooms, and an executive boardroom to connect Culverhouse students, faculty, and staff. Hewson Hall is designed to provide students with even more resources to maximize their success both within the classroom and beyond. The official grand opening of Hewson Hall was commemorated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the building on Sept. 9.

Get all the details about all the academic programs and Hewson Hall at

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