Deakin is offering a series of economics-focused short courses enabling professionals to gain skills that will inform day-to-day business decisions.
A major challenge faced by contemporary businesses is the glut of data they are gathering day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year. Dr Hemant Pullabhotla, an academic at Deakin Business School, says Deakin’s economic-focused short courses are teaching individuals the strategies to help companies address this problem.
“Almost all scales of business, even small businesses, are capturing a lot of data these days,” he says. “Even if you’re running a cash register, you will have a bunch of detail being recorded. More often than not, the data is not used, but it could be put to good use to derive useful insights about your customers and sales.”
Dr Pullabhotla says there’s an increasing number of business intelligence systems available to small- and medium-size companies today. “They’ve become far more accessible and democratic,” he says. “Available tools are becoming open and accessible to people with lower levels of technical knowledge. The fact we now have even small businesses gathering so much data, it makes economic sense to invest a little bit more in making use of that data.”
Deakin microcredential courses can be taken on a one-off basis, or taken as credit towards postgraduate studies. A background in programming is not required and Dr Pullabhotla says the courses are designed for a broad audience, from analysts to business managers.
One course, Predictive Modelling in Business and Economics, teaches learners how to use machine learning methods to predict which factors are going to drive an increase in sales in certain locations or timeframes. Students may also want to understand the broad categories that are driving sales.
Forecasting in Business and Economics focuses on basic forecasting methods and teaches students how to use them in a variety of settings, including tourist arrivals, sales, demand for accommodation, hospital beds, as well as commodity prices and inventory planning.
Both the Predictive Modelling and Forecasting short courses have introductory versions available free of charge on FutureLearn platform to gain an initial understanding of these toolkits as well as what the short courses themselves cover. “Hundreds of learners around the world, especially from the UK and India, are enrolled in these free open courses”, Dr Pullabhotla says.
Another major challenge facing modern businesses is consumer expectations relating to the climate change and environmental problems. How do you place a financial value on clean air? Or a pristine beach? And if even you knew the price tag, would that affect your business decisions?
While economists now have ways to address these dilemmas, Dr Pullabhotla says many businesses are yet to gather the tools for tackling them. That’s where a new Deakin microcredential course can help. Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis in Business is a flexible six-week course offered to postgraduate level learners from diverse business backgrounds.
“Traditionally, in economics and finance, decisions were purely made on financial metrics,” Mr Pullabhotla says. “What’s the profit you might earn, your expected costs etc. But because of the increasing demand for environmental consciousness, there’s also a need to expand those traditional cost-benefit techniques to include the environmental outcomes.”
Business managers now need to consider not just the possible environmental damage a decision might cause, but also ask what a beneficial decision might mean in terms of reducing environmental damage. “For example, if you’re a company that’s switching to an electric fleet, there are benefits but how do you go about putting a value to it?” Dr Pullabhotla says.
“Environmental economists have been working on how to actually value environmental benefits. What is the price for clean air for instance? There’s a way to do this, and for business managers the key thing is it lets them use values to develop their cost-benefit analysis.”
Dr Pullabhotla says the course is allowing managers within traditional business settings to integrate cutting-edge approaches and ways of thinking developed by environmental economists. He says it’s hard to find a business in the modern world that these models aren’t relevant to.
“Even if it’s a neighbourhood café for example. Maybe they’re trying to switch to recycled cups, and it might cost a little more to do that, but if you include the environmental benefits is it worth then taking on the extra cost?”
Presenting an opportunity to learn the latest economics tools from experts, this series of short courses give professionals tangible skills that can be directly applied to the workplace.