I get this kind of email over and over and over…

Subject: That darn CIS 2640 class (our predictive data analytics class)!!! I call it Excel on steroids.

Hello Sime,

I’m one of your former students I just graduated in August and I just wanted to let you know I just got hired at a company called Topco. They’re a privately member-owned large distribution center and I will be doing supply chain analysis for them. Just wanted to make sure you keep encouraging ISM students to take CIS 2640 if it wasn’t for that class I would not have got the job. Thanks for everything you’re doing for the program and I hope you have a great day!

Neil xxxxx

Another one…

Hi Sime,

I wanted to reach out to let you know that I have received a couple job offers! One that I really am leaning toward taking is a Inventory Analyst role with xxxxx in Minneapolis. They have offered me $58,000 a year and $3,000 to help me relocate. I think it is a great offer but do you think I should negotiate the pay at all? 

Also for any ISM students thinking about the business analytics minor please stress to them the importance of it. In every interview I have had they are very impressed with it and really want new hires to be comfortable with Excel. For xxxx they told me it was one of the things that helped me stand out against other candidates and they think it will help me be able to do anything within the position. 

Thank you!



Another one…

Hello Dr. xxxxx,

I would like to thank you for a wonderful semester! I learned a great amount and its already transitioning into the business world! I just got done with a Skype call with Steelcase that was strictly focused on excel skills you taught me this year! Its exciting to see such a quick turnaround and application of the knowledge from your class!

I hope that the rest of finals week goes well, and that you have a relaxing summer!

Regards and Bronco Pride,



Another one…this was an article on the business college website…

it made Nathan famous…

Gamifying Travel at Intuit      

Supply chain professionals, expert at improving processes and reducing costs, fill roles in a variety of areas leading and supporting initiatives that help the bottom line. As a new analyst at business and financial software giant Intuit, Nathan Henckel, B.B.A.’17, teamed up with three other Intuit employees to pitch a way to reduce employee travel costs that would benefit both the company and the employee. The team created a gamification process where employees earn rewards with the “Price to Beat” plan.

“In order to pitch a program like this, we had to the have the data and a program to back our idea,” says Henckel. “This was my part of the project. I created an algorithm using Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications programing language that analyzes Intuit’s historic and real-time travel data and generates a price to beat for the specific route the user was seeking.”

Using the company’s travel booking system, employees can “Beat the Price” generated by Henckel’s algorithm and receive half of any savings in their next paycheck.

In order to deploy a program where Intuit provides cash incentives to employees, the group presented their invention and explained the algorithm to Intuit’s chief marketing officer. “Following our presentation, he advocated to senior management for the deployment of this program as a pilot to approximately 1,000 intuit employees,” says Henckel, who credits his time in the Haworth College of Business with sharpening his knowledge of data analytics as well as his communication skills so that he could effectively present information and data about the project in a way that is meaningful.

“The business analytics skills and effective communication techniques I learned as a WMU student are put to use every day,” says Henckel. “As a sourcing analyst, my day-to-day responsibilities include deriving insights from data and effectively communicating those insights to our leaders. While a student at WMU, I took multiple courses that prepared me for the role that I am in now.”

To date, the travel game has generated $40,000 in savings and has been received very well by Intuit employees. “The primary goal of this project and pilot was to show savings for the company as a result of the incentive based travel program, and we accomplished that.” The team is now looking at expanding the pilot.

Excited about his position at Intuit and the opportunity to develop his skills for the future, Henckel anticipates his chosen field will change often. “In today’s world, more and more roles and tasks are being completed programmatically and with artificial intelligence and machine learning,” he says. “As a result, the roles of traditional sourcing professionals and analysts could be quickly changing directions. At Intuit, we employ the top software engineers in the world, which makes it the perfect place to further develop skills such as Python and other programming languages. I have already seen my skills pay off with the creation of our travel gamification algorithm using visual basic.”

Henckel’s path to Intuit began as a sophomore student participating in the introductory integrated supply management course taught by Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of management. “I think back to that course and how much passion and thought went into that class,” says Henckel. “After being exposed to the excitement and rigor of the course and the ISM program, I knew this was the field I wanted to pursue.”

Henckel went on to participate in the ISM program’s Bronco Force initiative where he helped develop a scorecard for a manufacturing firm in southwest Michigan. “This hands on experience, as well as the fact that students earned a LSS Green Belt as part of Bronco Force, helped me land my first summer internship at Brunswick Corporation in Chicago.”

As an indirect sourcing co-op at Brunswick, Henckel performed heavy data analytics and assisted in corporate travel and ocean freight bids. He later landed a co-op with GAST Manufacturing “where I finally got to put the manufacturing engineering knowledge ISM students gain to good use. This experience was substantial for developing my business acumen in a fast-paced setting and honed my ability to effectively communicate and negotiate.”

When Henckel was approaching graduation, Curkovic talked about the business and culture of Intuit, and Henckel was intrigued. After some research, he applied for a position in San Diego. After several phone interviews, he was invited to a case interview, and the next day had the job.

“The opportunity to move out to San Diego and work for such a progressive company was a career-defining move, and I couldn’t have done it without Western’s ISM program,” adds Henckel.

One more…

Dr. xxxxxx-

Following up on our conversation from earlier, I wanted to say again how much CIS 2640 has already helped me with my career. I took the class this past spring with xxxxxx, and the timing could not have worked out any better. I went right into a summer internship at xxxxx Systems (a third party logistics provider) as a logistics analyst intern. My excel skills coming out of CIS 1020 were rudimentary, and I would have struggled if that had been my only excel experience. With 2640, I was able to immediately begin cost savings analysis of freight pay data by using pivot tables, vlookups (I’m excited to begin using xlookups), index match, paste values, text formulas and other general excel workflow best practices that are taught. I spent a lot of my time this summer cleaning data, and the industry experience stacked really well on top of the classroom experience to help me use my time as efficiently as possible. The curriculum was spot on. 

I can’t imagine not taking this class, as it would be much more difficult to stand out in interviews and the workplace. I recommend the Business Analytics minor to everyone I know because of it. This semester I am tutoring for 2640 at the Dallas Rauker Center, and feel very confident after my combination of classroom success and workplace application. I’d appreciate if you could let the CIS team know that in my opinion, the content is spot on, and that we should to as much as we can to offer the class to as many students as possible. 

Students and SCM Professionals:

This can be a deal breaker in your professional lives…

The following CIS courses in our program develop Business Analytic skills:

CIS 1020 (Business Computing), CIS 2640 (Business Analysis and Reporting), CIS 2650 (Programming for Data Analytics), CIS 3640 (Business Analytics), and CIS 4640 (Business Data Mining). The trend line is very positive for this skill set.

Business Analytics (BA) addresses an increasing demand in organizations of all types to understand data related to their operations.  Investments in information systems throughout the enterprise for the last 10-25 years are generating tremendous amounts of data, and companies will spend at least the next 10 years developing processes that generate insight from those data.  In addition to data generated internally, many companies are exploring the effects of external data, primarily present in social media or web search. The ability to manage data and conduct business projects are the key to success in many disciplines. BA will provide a comprehensive skill set for students to analyze, visualize and report data.  The BIS and ISM programs have industry advisory boards supporting this skill set.  Attached is information that shows the importance of BA skills to employers.

Here is my thought on the BA minor and how to sell CIS 2650 to employers…

First of all, CIS 2650 is not just a “Python” class, but instead a Python class for analytics (big difference). In a traditional Python class, people teach Python straight for the whole semester with tons of syntax, data structure, software development, etc. That type of class is mostly designed for CIS and CS majors. What we do is different. It is Python in a popular analytics platform (more technically speaking, it is Python in Jupyter, which is an analytics platform that data science and business analytics programs do). Can you imagine what an employer will think if they see Python in Jupyter on your resume?  The reason for this design is the following:

A while back, we made these points about CIS 2650 and the BA minor in general.  Do these points still largely apply?…

  • We studied the top skills in analytics jobs & Python was among the top skills. 
  • The visualization libraries in Python can produce the kind of visualizations not available in Tableau & Power BI. Students will be able to differentiate themselves from other schools.   
  • Tableau & Power BI recently added Python or Python+Jupyter because certain Python analytics & visualization are not available in Tableau and Power BI. Using them together makes it a powerful analytics solution (e.g., the ability to transform visualization into implementable actions).   
  • All data scientists stress the importance of Python in analytics programs. Note, “data scientist” is one of the fastest growing career paths with escalating salaries because not enough people are good at this stuff.  
  • Python are “R” are both number one & two in analytics, but Python is easier to learn compared to R. 
  • Past experience in our SCM program (3+ semesters of experience in CIS 2650) shows that non-technical students (SCM, marketing, accounting, etc.) are able to handle the content that we designed. 
  • Python + Jupyter (or its variant) are used in Big Data (Hadoop, Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, etc.). It can also be used with/on SAP HANA, IoT, AI, Blockchain, and smart contracts to implement supply chain visibility, and other SC related solutions, etc.  

We believe the above points are still valid. Here are some evidences:

To make sure students see Python’s benefits and applications, we added applications of Python in Tableau/Power BI to the course content and offer some examples.

Meeting the needs of today’s employers is important, but offering a program that does that plus something that can differentiate our students from other schools sounds even better. Compared to the analytics programs from the schools that we benchmarked, our students can do so much more.

Business analytics addresses an increasing demand in orgs of all types to understand data related to their operations. Investments in information systems throughout the enterprise over the last 10-15 years are generating tremendous amounts of data, & orgs will spend at least the next 10 years developing processes that generate insight from those data.

In addition to data generated internally, many orgs are exploring the effects of external data, primarily present in social media, web search, manufacturing, & the SUPPLY CHAIN. The ability to manage data to support business projects are the key to success in many disciplines. Business analytics will provide a comprehensive skill set for SCM pros & grads to analyze, VISUALIZE (Tableau & Power BI!), & report data.

This has become a minimum:

CIS 2640 Predictive Data Analytics (Excel on steroids): I get this kind of feedback…https://lnkd.in/dQABdsXc – You will be glad to hear that (Anaconda + Jupyter Notebook + Python + visualization libraries) is what we have been teaching in CIS 2650 since the course was created.


Our data mining class (CIS 4640) is essentially a machine learning class for business, which is the core of Artificial Intelligence (agreed?). Our SCM students also told us many times that their hiring managers valued mostly the traditional Excel capabilities (lookup functions, pivot tables, etc.), & they greatly overlooked the opportunities from other analytical solutions (that our students have!). Again, for example, our data mining class is an ML class, the core of AI. FYI, starting Fall 2023, we will have numerous SCM majors minoring in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry (I hear they have a big important complicated supply chain).

Deep learning pioneer Andrew Ng says companies should get ‘data-centric’ to achieve A.I. success:

Great reads from Fortune & Accenture. Very important takeaways:
A.I. adoption from Accenture…https://lnkd.in/gx996a8n


Our Business Data Analytics Minor:
CIS 2640 – Applied Analytics Foundations (Excel on steroids)
Emphasis will be placed on uncovering insights through visualization, basic business analytics techniques, report solutions, queries & database manipulation.

CIS 2650 – Programming for Data Analytics
Introduces programming for predictive analytics utilizing popular software languages. Programming concepts of, data structures, input-output, & flow control will be covered, as well as techniques applied by analysts to organize & interpret data that varies in type, volume, & rate of change.

CIS 3640 – Visual Analytics
This course is designed to give students w/ foundational analytics experience comprehensive skills, and in-depth knowledge in analytical problem solving w/ particular focus on visualizing analyses. Students will learn visual representation techniques to transform data into insights. Tools, techniques, & theories w/i the realm of BI & data visualization will be explored, utilizing productivity/specialized software.

CIS 4640 – Business Data Mining
Students are introduced to the state-of-the-art data mining applications software such as SAS Enterprise Miner or SPSS Clementine for their class assignments and term project.

Supply Chain + Data Scientist (thousands of unfilled jobs on LinkedIn!), orgs place a premium ($) on- 1. Advanced Excel (power query & pivot) & macros; 2. Data visualization (Tableau, Power BI & python w/ seaborn & matplotlib);
3. Data mining/RapidMiner, machine learning & data science;
4. Python & Jupyter notebook (data analytics & statistical libraries such as pandas, numpy);
5. Relational data models (Excel data model);
6. Graphic & statistical libraries (Seaborn, Matplotlib, Pandas, & Plotly).

Is Python a must-have skill in the supply chain? https://lnkd.in/dcEJuZJX. How much Python do I need? https://lnkd.in/e6Rmzpw. I had a SCM professional ask: “I don’t even know basic python yet . I want to get to the more advanced items but I am not ready yet . I’ve done research into different courses but there are so many basic courses, I’m not sure which one is actually useful for someone looking to do supply chain analysis.”

Some options: You could try one of those intro python classes at Coursera or Udemy. Just a word of warning, the lack of interactivity and support at those MOOCs usually causes a super low retention rate (9% – 16%). The person needs quite a bit of dedication to successfully finish it. After that, look for a second course in analytics, data science or machine learning using python. This assumes they are interested in using python for those. Otherwise, invest time in pre-built specialized software packages (e.g., Rapidminer, XLminer, Knime, SAS, SPSS, etc.).

I kind of like these bootcamps from high profile schools but it seems to be an aggressive design. Each of the topics listed under their “Market-Driven Skills” is usually a semester-long course. I am not sure if they are targeting people with some experience in these areas. But, yes, they seem to be interesting programs. The same thing applies to analytics certificates offered through MOOCs, such as Coursera, EdX and others.

One caveat that SCM grads should know is that many of these online programs lack the required hand-holding experience. This is why the retention rates of MOOCs are usually in single digits. We find that this hand-holding experience is essential to motivate students to complete the training.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. It is an online course that is designed to be open and accessible to a large number of participants. MOOCs offer a flexible learning environment, allowing participants to learn at their own pace and from anywhere in the world. MOOCs are typically delivered through an online platform that provides access to course materials, videos, quizzes, and discussion forums.

MOOCs are usually free and open to anyone who wants to enroll. Some MOOCs may also offer a paid option to receive a verified certificate of completion or academic credit. MOOCs are offered by a variety of institutions, including universities, educational organizations, and private companies.

MOOCs have gained popularity in recent years because they offer a convenient and cost-effective way to learn new skills and advance your career. They cover a wide range of topics, from computer science and engineering to business and the humanities.

Tips/advice from this college professor (aka, educated idiot):
1. Read. People that read a lot make more $ (2.3 times more?!)
2. Learn the job saving technology.
https://lnkd.in/eu7ANq6 & https://lnkd.in/gE3wp6JU

3. Learn to interview well.
https://lnkd.in/ePzz3NG and https://lnkd.in/eZgTxWc
How to prep for virtual career fairs: 
Being job ready…
4. Learn to negotiate ($).
https://lnkd.in/gMJYNJkh and https://lnkd.in/guTUcvdu
5. Learn to network & use LinkedIn. 
https://lnkd.in/gPZPQtqR & https://lnkd.in/dAwyTUy & https://lnkd.in/gFa3iCsg.

6. Delay graduation for experience. https://lnkd.in/ewKu7b_X
7. Learn to problem solve – 
https://lnkd.in/eWaJ8q2 & https://lnkd.in/gSVTKmwC.

8. Double Major? https://lnkd.in/gAViGTVG & https://lnkd.in/gqAE9u8W.

9. Get a grad degree? Earn $3M more than someone w/ only a bachelor’s degree. https://lnkd.in/g5FY5aty & https://lnkd.in/gA9KH-Ff.

10. Job rotations? https://lnkd.in/ervskG5
11. 10 college majors that earn the most money: 
https://lnkd.in/gcSqXwyJ & https://lnkd.in/gEXGmFfU.
12. Free tool for calculating degree ROI: 
https://lnkd.in/gEPwNSTJ & https://lnkd.in/gsKyJ9rn.

13. Get certified as a subject matter expert: https://lnkd.in/g3yfkvQr & https://lnkd.in/gVbQV2q7.

14. Learn to talk CFO talk: https://lnkd.in/gtve9xTM.

Industry 4.0:


Recent observations & career advice (videos/podcasts):




What is SCM?…





Please contact me for more material. Thank you. Sime

Sample Lectures & Should You Major in Supply Chain Management?

Dr. Sime (Sheema) Curkovic, Ph.D.
, Professor, Operations/Supply Chain
Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business
E-Mail: sime.curkovic@wmich.edu

“WMU Integrated Supply Management (ISM)…Nation’s best undergraduate SCM program (Gartner 2014); 2nd in SCM technology (SoftwareAdvice 2015);  2nd in top global SCM talent (SCM World 2017)”


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