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Doubling down on data

SAIT’s data programs prepare students to harness a company’s most valuable asset — its information.
SAIT’s data programs prepare students to harness a company’s most valuable asset — its information.

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s largest companies have one thing in common: an abundance of data. Their ability to process, interpret and apply it to the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) has catapulted big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google to market dominance.

Data is kind of a big deal, and its relevancy isn’t limited to industry giants. The level of information data harnesses is an asset to many companies of all sizes, and learning how to effectively analyze and manage it has become an in-demand skillset.

Companies are starting to recognize the value of investing in data analysis to drive more informed decision making,” says Karen Graham, Academic Chair of SAIT’s Fast Track IT programs. “The 96% employment rate from our Business Intelligence – Data Analysis and Reporting certificate is a direct reflection of that appetite from industry.”

The age of analytics

Whether it’s tracking inventory, user activity on social media or enhancing the customer purchasing experience — leveraging data and listening to the story it has to tell has become critical to a company’s growth and success.

“Employers are looking to identify patterns or hiccups in processes and opportunities to save money,” says Autumn Heinze, Work Integrated Learning Coordinator for SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology. “They’re looking to have someone on the team who can gather data and translate it into a business decision or adjustment that can potentially turn that information back into dollars.”

In addition to learning how to develop, administer and analyze data, students in SAIT’s data programs learn how to present the information to employers in visual formats applying the latest software used in industry like Microsoft’s Power BI and Tableau.

Students and employers are also seeing this as a critical skillset to existing roles.

“Since the Data Analytics post-diploma certificate is also available on a part-time basis through evening courses, we’re seeing a lot of professionals who are currently employed come through this program,” says Graham. “They’re not necessarily wanting to become Data Analysts, but they understand the value behind data and how it can be applied to their current role.”

A tech talent shortage

While Calgary’s on its way to becoming home to more and more tech startups, there are also many established companies who will undergo some form of digital transformation — elevating the demand for more local, digital talent.

“Our latest forecasts show our city’s companies will lead an $18.4 billion spend on digital transformation in Alberta through 2022 across multiple sectors,” says Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy for Calgary Economic Development (CED). “Whether we’re talking about Calgary’s core economic drivers — energy, agribusiness and transportation — or emerging sectors like life sciences and creative industries, digital-ready skills are increasingly in-demand.”

A recent study conducted by CED and the Information and Communications Technology Council identified data analyst as one of the top in-demand digital roles in Calgary. The findings led them to develop EDGE UP, a program to support displaced, mid-career workers to upskill their digital and tech competencies in order to meet demand.

SAIT is one of the local post-secondary institutions to partner with CED and is currently delivering programming specific to data analytics to its second cohort of participants. Students in the program work with several technologies, gaining experience with data models, reporting and dashboards using Power BI, and predictive analytics using IBM’s SPSS software. Then, they work with a client to provide data-based solutions in a final capstone project.

Geoscientist Jamie Webb is a recent graduate of the program and is confident in the new skills she’s able to offer. “I’m better able to display my work in a more interactive and user-friendly way using Power BI,” she says. “I also now have the skills to understand how the data is managed so I can ensure integrity and have more confidence in my interpretations.”


Reboot your career

Make a big impact by bringing data-oriented solutions to almost any industry. Learn more about SAIT programs specializing in data through our School for Advanced Digital Technology.

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