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Data Science for Business Decision Making

Why do executives need to know data science?

As a chief executive officer, director, senior manager, founder or consultant, you are already an expert in your business area. Why is it also critical for you to master the essentials of data science, programming and analytics? The short answer: data science gives you a competitive edge. The longer answer: learning practical tools, basic coding skills, and techniques for analysing and sharing data prepares you to manipulate data and implement statistical modelling. This will help you to understand and solve your most important business challenges.

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Most CEOs and managers accept in principle that data can help their companies improve productivity, reduce risk and increase market share. However, many executives still have trouble placing their confidence in analytics or lack the skills to use it to its full potential.

77 In a 2019 survey of 65 Fortune 1000 executives, researchers found that 77% of respondents found business adoption of big data and AI initiatives to be a challenge.


67 In a 2020 survey of 300 data analytics leaders from the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, 67% of business leaders rely on “gut instinct” over data for business decisions.


Key information

In this programme, the focus is on applying essential data and analytics tools to your business concerns. You will:

  • Identify, research and discuss ways that data science methods can be used in business to improve decisions and processes
  • Become familiar with essential programming tools for sophisticated data analysis and visualisation to improve understanding and communication
  • Gain skills in the use of data science tools to make numeric predictions and perform classifications
  • Use data science tools to extract meaning from text data sources to better understand social media feedback and discussion

Duration: 7 weeks, online. 4-6 hours/week

Start dates:
17 October 2022
23 January 2023 (assignment submission 26 March)
15 May 2023 (assignment submission 16 July)

Fee: £1,480*

*If you are a University of Manchester alumni or have attended an executive education course at Alliance Manchester Business School, you qualify for a 10% discount. Please contact before booking your place.

Programme topics

You will learn through a combination of hands-on programming demonstrations in RStudio, video lectures, quizzes, readings and peer discussions.

Module 1: Introduction to data science
Learn the disruptive business applications of data science including foundational analysis methods; explore a data mining framework; explore popular data science technologies; learn about data organisation for analysis.

Module 2: Impactful data visualisations
Understand the power of advanced visualisations to persuade and influence audiences for effective communication across diverse sets of stakeholders; explore the physical characteristics of effective visualisations.

Module 3: Making predictions by characterising relationships
Identify and describe business problems concerned with the strength and relationship among variables. Explore characteristics and evaluate the quality of predictive models to understand how data and models can inform business decisions.

Module 4: Making predictions by classifying outcomes
Compare the classification methods of experts and machines; explore performance of predictive classification models.

Module 5: Supervised and unsupervised learning
Learn to differentiate between supervised and unsupervised learning as you explore how a model-building contest hosted by Netflix yielded predictive model performance improvements.

Module 6: Extracting meaning from text
Explore how and why language analysis can provide near-realtime feedback of customer opinions; learn about natural language processing methods; construct and test a predictive model to examine sentiment of text passages.

Programme experience

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Bite-sized learning

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Mobile learning app

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Dedicated programme support team

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Peer learning and feedback

How you benefit

This programme is presented as a practical set of modules, designed to provide business leaders with the foundational data science skills to solve their real-world business challenges.

  • Learn commands, functions and basic data analysis in R programming language.
  • Use data visualisation tools, such as the ggplot2 package for graphics, to communicate with data teams, management, clients, partners and the general public.
  • Learn to predict prices, sales, units sold based on product features, and marketing activities using input and output variables and algorithms.
  • Predict positive customer response to an email campaign (conversion) or churn (attrition) using classification tools.
  • Master clustering applications for market segmentation, recommender systems or stock grouping for investment portfolio management.
  • Develop a workbook of applicable topics from the programme for your specific situation – a guide for your company’s unique approach to data science business solutions.

Who should attend

This programme is designed for mid-career functional managers, consultants, and analysts.

Although the topics covered could be applied to a range of businesses, the programme will be particularly useful in industries with a massive data stream, such as retail, healthcare, IT, marketing and finance. You are not required to have a background in programming. Roles that would be well suited to this programme include:

  • Owner
  • President
  • Project Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Risk Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Consultant
  • Principal Consultant
  • Management Consultant

Course lead

Dr Panagiotis Sarantopoulos

Dr Panagiotis Sarantopoulos
Lecturer in Marketing, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

Dr. Sarantopoulos’s research and teaching interests lie in the areas of marketing research and analytics. His work has appeared in elite world journals, such as the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Business Research, and has received strong recognition in the form of best paper awards and funding from Fortune 500 companies. Prior to his academic post, he worked as a data scientist in Greece, Spain and Sweden. Read more >>

Industry examples

Throughout the programme, you will consider how notable brands and global organisations have applied sophisticated data science methods to create business solutions and to communicate their analyses effectively to their stakeholders.

World Health Organization

World Health Organization

Understand the power of data visualisation and predictive models with WHO’s health report and online data repository



Discover how clustering influences what movie or series Netflix recommends for your next binge-watch.



Data science is not just numbers; text analysis is essential for Twitter’s trending tweets.


Upon successful completion of the programme, participants will receive a verified digital certificate of participation from Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester.

Note: Your digital certificate will be issued in your legal name and emailed to you at no additional cost, upon completion of the programme, per the stipulated requirements. All certificate images are for illustrative purposes only and may be subject to change at the discretion of Alliance Manchester Business School.

In addition to a certificate, participants who successfully complete the programme will also receive a digital badge via email from Accredible, which can be displayed on LinkedIn profiles and represents completion and participation in the programme.

Data Science for Business Decision Making sample certificate