Integrating Real-time Big Data Analysis and Visualization for Better Decision-making

Betsy Sigman (MSB) · Round 4

The phrase "Big Data" is everywhere, but few have a deep understanding of what it is and how it can be used for better decision making. This project developed and tested curricula that teach students what the term "Big Data" means in today's business world, what sources of Big Data are available and necessary for management and business decision-making, and how to use real-time data to make better organizational decisions. This project was launched in Fall 2014 in a module on Big Data for an undergraduate business course and in a full Big Data course for the Executive MBA. In the first launch of this project, students learned to use Splunk for text analysis, sentiment analysis, and other types of social media analysis. Additionally, they learned to use the Tableau software package to create data visualizations to help understand, analyze, and present data.

The most pertinent finding from our project was that students did feel that they had increased their knowledge about various aspects of Big Data as a result of our efforts.

Betsy Sigman

Led by Principal Investigator Betsy Sigman, this ITEL project's goal was for the hands-on experience with analyzing and visualizing live data streams to help students understand how organizations can make better decisions using such data. Sigman hypothesized that if students have such experiences in the classroom along with training on the topics and terms of big data, they would better understand what this burgeoning field is all about, and they would be able to use big data and data visualization tools for better decision-making.

Results from the fall implementation of the Big Data EMBA course suggest that the project caused student learning gains. The course made an impact on the student perceptions that they had learned something about Big Data, and specific topics. The implications of the project are that students do learn about Big Data through the methods Sigman and the ITEL team have developed. This project is ongoing, and in the next iteration of the course, Sigman is interested in continuing this research by assessing whether learning about Big Data and visualizations can help students make better decisions.


Sigman, Betsy, Marie Selvanadin, William Garr, Robert Pongsajapan, and Kristin Bolling. “Teaching How to Integrate Real Time Big Data Analysis and Visualization for Better Decision Making.” Presented at the Annual Decision Sciences Institute Conference, Tampa, FL, November 2014.