Today’s digital organizations rely on vast volumes of data to make critical business decisions, from when to repair factory equipment to how to improve consumer products. So it makes sense that data/ business analysis ranks as the top initiative driving IT investment, cited by 37% of IT leaders, according to IDG’s 2020 State of the CIO report.

The New CIO Roles chart

As reliance on data analytics and business intelligence grows, so too does the need for IT professionals who understand analytics tools and how to integrate them into critical business processes. According to the State of the CIO report, 81% of respondents say that their role is expanding to include new responsibilities. Chief among these: an understanding of data analytics (64%) and its use cases.

The Technology Driving IT Investments chart


To stay competitive, organizations must collect vast volumes of data, then analyze that data to retain high-value customers, predict trends, identify emerging markets, mitigate risk, drive innovation, and more. This means IT leaders must not only know how to gather and store information, but also combine data into meaningful clusters, mine it for compelling insights, and present it in a way that can help the business.

“Nowadays every company needs data-literate IT leaders who understand how to manipulate data, hear the voice of data, and translate insights into a competitive advantage for the business,” says Barbara Hoopes, Associate Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech.

For those companies or individuals looking to deepen their skill set, Virginia Tech’s Master of Information Technology (VT-MIT) program provides an excellent foundation for data analytics skills development.

Designed as a collaborative program with Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and Pamplin College of Business, the VT-MIT master’s degree blends coursework and offers 11 specialized areas of study. These concentration areas range from Software Development and Decision Support Systems to Networking and Cybersecurity Policy.

For IT professionals focused on data insights, the Analytics & Business Intelligence module delivers some of the greatest career enhancements: IT leaders can learn how to analyze large volumes of data using the latest intelligence tools and scientific methods.


Not everyone has the time or financial resources to commit to a full master’s degree program, however. Some may already have a master’s and are just looking for a narrow update on a current skillset. For these reasons, Virginia Tech also offers IT professionals the option to earn a graduate certificate in six specialized IT subject areas, including Business Analytics and Data Mining.

“IT leaders can find a certificate that speaks exactly to their professional needs without having to commit several years to pursuing a master’s degree,” says Hoopes. In fact, students can earn a certificate in as little as 12 months.

There are many reasons why the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs report ranks the VT-MIT degree the nation’s fourth best and No. 3 for veterans. Whether looking to simply enhance existing skills or prepare for a major career transition, students can expect to reap these rewards:


IT leaders interested in enhancing their analytics expertise can enroll in courses like Introduction to Business Intelligence & Analytics, Applied Business Intelligence & Analytics, Information Systems Design & Database Concepts, and Advanced Database Management. Together, these courses allow IT leaders to develop skills where a current dearth of talent is driving competitive salaries and prime opportunities for career advancement.


Exclusively online, a VT-MIT master’s degree or graduate certificate satisfies an increasing demand among IT workers for greater flexibility. Specifically, VT-MIT students can keep working, shift their course loads, and take fewer classes at busier times for their business. They also have the opportunity to work with students nationwide, further broadening their experience and knowledge.


Earning a certificate also offers those who already have a master’s degree an opportunity to explore a high-demand content area, such as Business Analytics and Data Mining, to boost their marketability and stay abreast of IT trends. Employers can also use a certificate “to contribute to the skill sets and the knowledge base of employees without having to release them to earn a degree as a full-time student,” says Hoopes.


Data analytics can provide organizations with invaluable insights, but only if IT leaders know how to parlay data into insights that drive informed business decisions. An online VT-MIT degree or graduate certificate offers students the skills they need while at the same time balancing today’s personal, professional, and academic demands. 

Written by IDG