Master degree programme in Data Science and Business Informatics

The two year master degree programme in Data Science and Business Informatics at the Università di Pisa is the only one in Italy to train participants to become professionals with interdisciplinary skills both in computer science and business economics to satisfy the increased demand of companies to compete using analytic methods. The master’s degree program is illustrated through a series of FAQs. If questions remain, these can be directed to the Director of the Master’s program.

Why another type of master’s degree in computer science? Answer

  • Because manufacturing companies, service companies and public administration are looking for professionals with expertise in the areas of information technology (IT), economics and management.
  • Because in the past, computer scientists have been associated with the image of hyper-specialists, very focused on technological problems and not on business, and this often hampers the appropriate professional ambitions of graduates in computer science.
  • Because currently many graduates in computer science want to pursue careers in business. Therefore, they must have a solid educational background in economics and business.

What skills do the graduates acquire? Answer

The professional profile is wider than traditional IT professionals with skills in areas such as operational information systems to support business activities. The aim is to provide graduates with specific professional skills that lead to an effective dialogue with managers to support tactical and strategic activities. To achieve this goal, key skills include Business Intelligence and Data Science (e.g. data warehousing, machine learning, data mining, business process modeling, big data analytics, visual analytics, text analytics). These technological skills are complemented by economic and business skills on decision-oriented rather than just operational and management activities. In fact, the economic and business skills enable graduates to understand the operational performance of an organization and the decision-making criteria adopted by the management. The computer science skills enable them to translate this understanding into models using the latest IT, in order to contribute significantly to an organization’s decision-making and to the systematic innovation of products, processes and services.

What is the professional profile of graduates? Answer

Management is generally reluctant to engage computer scientists in decision-making, who are seen as bearers of important knowledge but who are highly specialized and sometimes detached from the application context or poorly suited to support management activities. Computer scientists, for their part, may find it difficult to promote their skills effectively, failing to focus on the primary interests of management. The professional profile of the graduate in Data Science and Business Informatics instead has been designed to overcome the cultural divide between IT and management, to prepare specialists with a broad multidisciplinary culture and with design and organizational skills.

Are there study plans for specific professional profiles? Answer

Through an appropriate study plan, the following professional profiles can be achieved:

  • Application designer. Application design specialists identify, analyze and clarify business problems and possible technological solutions. They talk with experts from different areas (organization, control, finance, sales, marketing) in order to identify the needs, objectives and critical business processes. They create formal and semi-formal models of business phenomena, and reformulate business problems and opportunities for technological solutions. They evaluate possible solutions in terms of technology, but also of an organizational, managerial and financial nature. They have interdisciplinary professional competencies in business administration as well as in informatics, and they know how to move easily in these two culturally different worlds.

    The professional profile is in demand by IT companies that offer design solutions, starting from an understanding of the problem, to the development of computer systems that meet the needs of all kinds of companies (industry, trade, finance). Application design specialists have a role both as a designer and a consultant, and are considered as top-level professionals, with career opportunities in non-specialist roles as well.

  • Expert in data-driven decision-support systems with Business Intelligence. Experts in decision-support systems based on data analysis with Business Intelligence techniques are Application design specialists in the analysis, design, implementation and management of data-driven decision-support systems with Business Intelligence applications. Their core competencies include the systematic use of sophisticated methods and tools for data analysis (data warehouse and data mining) and in-depth understanding of market phenomena and decision making, sales and marketing. Their natural partners are company managers interested in the applications of Business Intelligence.

    The professional profile is in demand by companies interested in skills in both data management, and data analysis from the perspective of decision-making.

  • Expert in Web Marketing applications. Experts in Web Marketing are Application design specialists in the analysis, design, implementation and management of applications for the development of commercial activities on the web with targeted promotions and strategies to attract and retain visitors. Their core competencies include the systematic use of methods and technologies of Business Intelligence for the use of the Web for commercial purposes and the critical evaluation of the evolution of research and technologies in the field of Web Marketing.

    The professional profile is in demand by companies and government agencies using IT for promotional activities on the network.

  • Expert in model-driven decision-support systems with mathematical models. Experts in decision-support systems based on mathematical models of operations research are Application design specialists in the analysis, design, implementation and management of decision-support systems based on mathematical models. Their core competencies include the systematic use of methods and algorithms of operations research for innovative solutions and the critical evaluation of research and applications in the field of decision-support systems based on mathematical models.

    The professional profile is in demand by companies and government agencies that use decision-support systems based on mathematical models or develop software modules for these systems.

  • Expert in technical analysis and design of processes in organizations. Experts in technical analysis and design of processes in organizations are Application design specialists in the analysis and design, or redesign, of complex processes in organizations with computer modeling and Business Intelligence techniques. Their core competencies include the systematic use of methods and computational techniques in modeling and analysis of processes in organizations, the ability to apply innovative methods for the analysis and design of processes in organizations, and the critical assessment of the evolution of search and technologies in the field of process analysis.

    The professional profile is in demand by companies and government agencies that wish to use computational methods for the analysis and design of processes.

  • Project leader. Project leader specialists have a role that combines managerial skills with enhancing group productivity. Their skills enable them to lead teams of designer applications strongly focused on their specialized task, while maintaining a broad view of the relevant business environment. They know how to effectively evaluate the economic, financial, organizational and decisional aspects of the project, keeping the technical aspects and the application goals constantly aligned.
  • Manager of information systems. Managers of information systems develop strategies for building and using information systems, coordinating project teams and managing relationships with external designers, companies making computer systems, and communicating with the company managers. They have a managerial profile, in which business skills are of decisive importance, on a par with those in information technology.
  • Account Manager. Account managers act on behalf of an IT company at a client company. They collaborate with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the client company. Their task is to fully understand client problems, for whom they implement applications along with updates. They have a similar profile to the Managers of information systems, but they must also have some of the characteristics of software saleperson, most notably the ability to communicate with non-IT managers.
  • Software salesperson. Software salespersons must not only have sales skills, but they must also be consultants with broad interdisciplinary skills which enable them to understand the software needs of a client company both analytically and intuitively, to communicate with the software designers of their company and to assess the economic and organizational aspects of the projects for both companies.
  • Entrepreneur. Experience shows that very often small IT companies fail to be fully successful because of the deficiencies in management training for entrepreneurs, who tend to underestimate the economic and business aspects tipping the scales too much in favor of technological aspects. Entrepreneurship is an opportunity which, when it comes to graduates in computing, is often not seized, because of these deficiencies. An interdisciplinary course that combines technological and business expertise therefore provides a career opportunity offering considerable satisfaction, if approached with an adequately broad cultural background.

What are the graduate job opportunities? Answer

For graduates in Data Science and Business Informatics a professional profile has been designed to master the technology and at the same time understand the needs of organizations, those already known and those that are not yet clear to those organizations that have not identified the new opportunities offered by IT. The following are examples of companies that are actively searching for graduates in Data Science and Business Informatics but are having difficulty finding them given the fact that this is such a new discipline.

  • Companies that operate on mass markets. They need to understand market dynamics, customer needs, and opportunities for innovation of products and services very quickly and thoroughly. Examples include banks, insurance companies, retailers, and telecoms. All these companies operate on the Web and are increasingly interested in managing large amounts of data on which to perform sophisticated analyzes. Therefore they require graduates who are able to understand economics, management and marketing so that they can exploit IT in innovative ways.

  • Public Administration. With the development of society and e-government, administrative departments must also use innovative IT solutions. Demands on computer professionals in the future will be much more complex than they are today.

  • IT companies and consulting. In a market where business and IT expertise is in high demand, these companies should all have employees with a professional profile such as those designed for the master’s degree program in Data Science and Business Informatics.

Bring together economic and managerial skills and technology into one degree course is also designed as a starting point for careers such as managers, freelance consultants or entrepreneurs.

The master’s degree program promotes internships in companies and external institutions, where students also develop their thesis, thus favoring the rapid employability of graduates (with excellent results that place the master’s degree program among the top degree programs at the Università di Pisa).

Can graduates take the Italian state examination that gives admittance to the regulated of professional IT engineers? Answer

Graduates in Data Science and Business Informatics are graduates in computer science, and thus can take the Italian state examination. Registration for the Section A of the Engineers — Information Industry, is subject to passing the state exam which they are qualified to take by a degree in computer science.