Skip to main content A Conversation With: Katie Desiderio, executive director of Graduate Business Programs at Moravian College

By: Stacy Wescoe
July 20, 2020 10:01 am

Katie Desiderio, executive director of Graduate Business Programs at Moravian College –

Katie P. Desiderio, is an associate professor of management and executive director of Graduate Business Programs at Moravian College in Bethlehem. She is also assistant vice president of the school’s corporate-educational partnerships. Moravian launched its online Master of Science in Predictive Analytics program in January of last year. It was the first online graduate business program offered by the college.

LVB: Just what is predictive analytics and how is it used?

Desiderio: A good place to start is with a definition popularized by SAS, a leading analytic software company.  Predictive analytics is the use of data, statistical algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. The goal is to go beyond knowing what has happened to providing the best assessment of what will happen in the future.  Even more, how do we harness all of the data that is available to us to help us understand the present and use it to make better projections about the future?

Predictive analytics helps a business or any institution do a better job in achieving their objectives by helping them understand their data. Its methods are used for improving operations, risk assessment, optimizing consumer experiences through customer lifetime and segmentation models, fraud detection, optimizing resource utilization and forecasting all facets of a business, so companies can plan more effectively.

Not only do businesses use these tools, but they are utilized across every type of institution to help them develop and maintain a competitive edge.

LVB: What industries are predictive analytics most common in?

Desiderio: Predictive analytics is becoming more embedded in every industry today.  Every institution – companies, schools, governments – need it in order to remain viable.

When we think about the high profile utilization of predictive analytics, industries such as health care, retail, manufacturing, cybersecurity, finance and telecommunications immediately come to mind.  And we can see the transformative impact it has already had on sports, climate-change science and transportation.

It’s even at the heart of our education system today where predictive analytics is used to shape strategies and communications to retain students and keep them on their path to graduation.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has really accelerated and brought to the forefront the power of predictive analytics, especially in the healthcare industry. Data is being used to predict hospital and medical equipment demand, virus transmission rates, as well as socio-economic impacts.

Never before has so much data been compiled and made available to the general public on a global scale. And, along with that, the recognition of the importance of reporting it in an unbiased, ethical manner.

LVB: Why did Moravian decide to start the MSPA program last year?

Desiderio: Our liberal arts education prepares each individual for a reflective life, fulfilling careers, and transformative leadership in a world of change. That means that our emphasis is placed not only mastering the computational aspects of predictive analytics – the statistics, math and programming skills – but also the business acumen that is required to properly understand the results, vet them for correctness and articulate them to the intended audience in a meaningful way.

Knowing how to ask the right questions, how to develop an analytic framework and how to communicate the insights from the analytics is just as important as the bits and bytes.

LVB: What has the response been?

Desiderio: The response has been so rich. We have been hosting information sessions and instant decision days via zoom and will launch our third cohort this fall.

LVB: What do you see as the future of predictive analytics?

Desiderio: As predictive analytics grows in importance across industries, we see growth in the demand for these critical skills.  Research points to the need for the skills to analyze the huge amounts of data that institutions now have access to today.

Institutions have begun to realize the importance of predictive analytics.  At the same time, even as institutions begin to adopt predictive analytic methods, there are continuing advances in technology, algorithms and applications that are accelerating the opportunity to apply the insights that can be found in predictive analytic methods.

These advances include such things as expansions in the availability of the traditional raw material of predictive analytics – structured data or numbers. But, there has also been an explosion in recent years in unstructured data such as text and video that is providing a rich source of information, data in a different form.

Continued advances in computer technology such as faster and cheaper machines, massively parallel processing capabilities and new data storage methods have expanded our abilities to gather and store data.

And as a part of these changes, this means that ethical and privacy concerns need to be addressed if the data is to be used responsibly. The public has become much more aware of these issues over the past few years due to data breaches and high-profile issues raised by governments and other organizations.

This article appeared on on July 20, 2020. To view it on the website, please visit: A Conversation With: Katie Desiderio, executive director of Graduate Business Programs at Moravian College