Business data analytics and decision making
This module will introduce you to methods used to facilitate data-driven business decision making. It will equip you with a basic knowledge of qualitative and quantitative techniques to analyse data and skills to make decisions primarily in a business context. In particular, it will enable you to construct valid arguments, summarise and describe datasets, explore relationships between variables, make hypothesis-driven decisions, and employ basic forecasting techniques. Upon completion of the module, you'll be able to apply the techniques and tools acquired during the module in a professional environment.
What you will study
The aim of this module is to introduce you to core qualitative and quantitative methods used in a business context. The module will apply these methods to datasets encountered in such a context.
You'll study the principles involved in data analysis techniques and reasoning for decision making in business, accounting and finance. Randomness is a defining characteristic of most datasets encountered in real life, which required finding the signal in random and noisy data to make justified decisions.
The following topics will be covered by this module:
- Types and sources of business data.
- Visualising and exploring data in Microsoft Excel.
- Descriptive analysis of datasets with one and two variables.
- Sampling from a population.
- Basics of probability theory, including random events, continuous and discrete random variables.
- Randomness in business data: the normal distribution.
- Introduction to critical thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning.
- Principles of statistical estimation.
- Hypothesis tests of means and proportions.
- Relationships between variables: correlation and covariance.
- Linear regression.
- Introduction to forecasting, decomposition of time series.
- Index numbers such as price indices and economic growth.
- Using regressions to make forecasts.
The use of Excel spreadsheets will be key to an understanding and application of knowledge. Spreadsheets are used throughout the module as the central tool used by professionals for simple data management and analysis. Real-life datasets will be provided to help you develop professional skills beyond the traditional academic discourse. These skills can be applied more broadly to your professional or personal life.
You will learn
By studying this module, you'll understand how information is identified, collected and explored and then related to problem solving for decision making with a range of business data resources and appropriate methodologies. You'll be able to characterise and summarise datasets, explore relationships between variables using statistical techniques to support business decisions, as well as evaluate and develop information, data, and arguments necessary for decision making in ways that show you understand their strengths and limitations.
Whilst there are no formal entry requirements, this module does require good numerical skills. A basic understanding of Microsoft Excel will also help. We will provide introductory materials to familiarise yourself with this spreadsheet software.
This is an OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
If you would like to prepare for this module, you may find the following introductory resources on OpenLearn helpful:
You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- module materials including datasets to practice your analytical skills
- audio and video content such as animations and screencasts
- assignment details and submission section
- online tutorial access.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.