Dana Edberg, University of Nevada, Reno | Associate Professor, Master of Science in Business Analytics

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Dana Edberg, associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno

Dana Edberg has been on the faculty of the University of Nevada, Reno since 1983. Serving in a variety of administrative roles including Departmental Chair and Interim Dean of the College of Business, Dana has a wide variety of experiences and knowledge she brings to the department of Business Analytics. In previous roles, Dana has taught a variety of classes in information systems including database design, information visualization, programming, data warehousing and systems design/development. Her research explores the types of interpersonal and learning relationships developed in organizations to best support the effect implementation and use of technology. Past research Dana explored how organizations change their work processes based on the implementation of technology and how those processes changes can trigger the enhancement of technology supporting those processes. Her work has been published in journals such as Journal of Management Information Systems, Communication of the Association of Information Systems, Journal of Information Systems Applied Research, Economics and Human Biology, Health Systems Management.

Her technology-related professional work experience includes software engineering project management, database design, and the purchase and implementation of large-scale systems in government and industry. She has created large-scale data warehouses for organizations and is currently researching health information systems and worked with a team from the university to evaluate the implementation of a statewide health information exchange in the state of Nevada.

Learn more about Dana Edberg’s experience in the higher-education and Information Systems field in a recent interview.

When did you first know you wanted to enter the field of Information Systems?

I first discovered I loved computer programming when taking a course in business programming in the late 1970’s. My father kept telling me while I was in college that I needed to find something I could do as a career, so while I continued as a political science major taking classes in politics and philosophy, I took one class each semester in something “practical” within a College of Business. Most of the business classes like Economics and Accounting were incredibly dull to me and I couldn’t imagine having to do those as a career, but computer programming was a whole new ball game. Programming was like symbolic login in philosophy. Programming was sequential. Programming was creative. While I can’t pain and I can’t knit a straight row, I can create beautiful programs that generate exciting output. After taking one class, I was hooked and wanted to learn everything possible about computers and how they could be used to make businesses run more efficiently. I switched majors and took as many computer classes as I could find.

What are you currently most passionate about in terms of your work or research?

I am passionate about helping students discover the joy of technology. I want my students to take pleasure in creating new technology and learn how to apply it to solve business problems. Each semester that I teach, a student shows me something new and exciting to learn. It is such a reciprocal experience.

My research is currently focused on two areas-the use of technology in healthcare and finding out the reasons why women in the U.S. are not excited about careers in technology. I’m passionate about both.

The U.S. government funded the transformation of the healthcare industry through the implementations of information technology. It has been fascinating to study the implications of that transformation and to learn what was done well and what wasn’t.

What are some research initiatives you plan to embark on in the near future?

I continue to study the implementation of electronic health records and their integration into health information exchanges. I have studied how hospitals have changed their operating procedures based on information technology – for better and for worse in the view of the people who have to use that technology. I am currently studying how we are combining behavioral health data (mental health data) with physical health data to get an integrated understanding of a person’s health.

What are some emerging innovations or industry trends that are changing the way you approach teaching and your research?

An emerging industry trend is that organizations no longer want to hire entry-level people.  Almost every job announcement states that a person should have a degree and two years of experience. I’m trying to help students gain two years of experience while they are still in school by creating many real-life projects so that students can work on my past consulting projects and create more extensive solutions than I did during the engagement.  I’m also encouraging my students to create portfolios of their work to demonstrate their abilities.

One of the major trends in the industry is the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) to solve routine problems.  We have used technology to routinize work in many areas, but we are now entering the knowledge professions.  We are using technology to replace routine work in health care and other areas that used to be the bastion of the intelligent knowledge worker.  It is interesting to study how technology is transforming the way people approach their work each day.  We didn’t have the stored data in the past to even begin to duplicate human thought processes, but that stored data is growing by leaps and bounds every minute making it possible to use artificial intelligence to help solve real problems.  Computing is expanding beyond keeping track of our financial transactions to helping us solve real organizational problems.

What are some ways the UNR curriculum aligns with your teaching and philosophies?

The UNR curriculum is training students to use data to support decision making in organizations.  It is helping students expand their understanding of how people make decisions and to help those people make use of available data to make more informed decisions.  The curriculum is centered around three basic topic areas:  business, analytics, and data.  Students need to know enough about business and organizations to know what decisions are made by people in organizations.  Students also must learn the tools of analytical decision making to understand how best to use quantitative methods to analyze data.  And finally, students need to be aware of the “regular old” and “big data” stored on computers in order to use that data in their analytical models.  They need to feel comfortable with how data is stored so that they can access what they need to help support their analytical work.

I think it is difficult to make good decisions without understanding all three parts of our curriculum.  Some people will end up focusing on one area more heavily than the other two, but it is critical to have fundamental knowledge of all three in order to make data-supported decisions.

Learn More:

The online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Nevada, Reno can help you tap into the power of big data to drive smarter business and managerial decisions. You’ll develop a solid, in-depth understanding of blockchain, AI and other cutting-edge technologies helping to define the future of business.

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