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Christian Business Analytics

Abstract

The wisdom enabled by business or data analytics is a blessing from the Lord. Like many of His blessings, He often provides the way to the answer rather than the discrete answer itself. For example, Jesus Christ is The Way to God’s salvation, not salvation itself. Salvation requires acceptance of this amazing gift. Christian leaders and analysts (the practitioners) in any industry sector are called to be faithful and diligent, to cultivate the gifts God provides and in turn, this cultivation often yields additional blessings for the practitioner and those whom the practitioner works with. In terms of business analytics, data is the cornerstone of the blessing. The methods and approaches for organizing, comparing, and understanding data, often grouped under the umbrella terms data science or analytics, combine with the data and form the way. This is the way to learning, the way to better, and even more, the way to wisdom. The way may be better understood when assessed through the lens of Bloom’s Taxonomy or established maturity model frameworks. For some, the way may be best represented in an analogy such as farming. The wisdom gained through the application of the analytics transforms data into information and information into knowledge. When coupled with experience, both successes and failures, knowledge becomes wisdom. Christians must apply this wisdom, this blessing from the Lord, for the Lord. By sharing their blessings, their talents, with their coworkers and employers, Christians have the opportunity to demonstrate God’s provision, and perhaps God will use this work to increase His flock.


Christian Business Analytics

As a Christian leader it is critical to gain wisdom related to business analytics, a component of data science. More so, Christian leaders have a responsibility to seek wisdom from the Lord, and this wisdom may come from God through the activities and results, including successes and failures, associated directly with the targeting, collection, organization, and investigation of data. This is not a singular pursuit, but rather, a holistic endeavor from both theoretical and practical viewpoints. “The modern discipline of data science has grown in a complex and interesting way and has had inputs from numerous other disciplines and fields” (Ahmed & Pathan, 2019).

Data is the keystone, the core elemental piece of the solution known as analytics and learning how to better utilize data demonstrates a desire for logic, truth, and in a manner, righteousness. To be fair, righteousness as an attribute also requires ethical and moral conduct. King Solomon demonstrated this practice. “They stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, 1 Kings 3:28). The definition of business analytics should include the moral requirement as well. After all, “the Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, 1 Samuel 26:23).

The data and analytics revolution continues to move forward, and Christian leaders must be prepared to serve as faithful stewards of this growing resource. “We are experiencing such a deluge of data that, in the future, there is the potential for corporations to be buried in it” (Bartlett, 2013).

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy

An improved understanding regarding the Christian perspective or rather, God’s perspective, on the blessing of wisdom and its relation to business analytics, may be explored utilizing a well-known learning framework known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. This framework provides educators (and business professionals) with a practical, intuitive, progressive maturity scale by which student learning can be assessed, understood, and hopefully, improved. “Bloom's Taxonomy is widely used in educational research to stratify learning activities into different cognitive levels” (Zaidi et al., 2017).

This scale, which contains six levels, begins at the lowest level with Knowledge and advances through the highest level with Evaluation (of note, the fourth step in this scale is labeled Analysis). It presents an interesting, mutually reinforcing loop between the practitioner and the process. The operating concept is simple: as students or practitioners (in this case business analysts and leaders) acquire more education and experience in a subject area, their ability to effectively use the content of that subject matter is expected to improve. If these practitioners are not advancing upwards through the scale, the learning process itself may need improvement.

The progression that a typical approach to data analysis follows may also be modeled using this taxonomy. “Bloom’s taxonomy can be rather factual but can also be from a theoretical-conceptual level or be subject-specific in nature, for example understanding subject-specific techniques” (Boeren & Íñiguez-Berrozpe, 2022). In data analytics, for example, consider the progression from steps four through six, these being Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. A practitioner must be competent in critical analysis activities (e.g., comparing and organizing data and information) before they may strive towards more advanced theoretical pursuits including experimentation. The skills gained to achieve proficiency in analytics are required to support experimentation (e.g., Design of Experiments, etc.), and the skills required to successfully conduct experiments in turn supports the design and execution of advanced predictive and prescriptive models (e.g., genetic algorithms, etc.).

In this application, Bloom’s Taxonomy may be more appropriately described as a functional maturity model. “A maturity model can be defined as a conceptual structure, composed of parts that define the maturity or the development status, of a determined interest area of study” (Santos & Martinho, 2020).

Cultivating Wisdom

In order to observe or experience the evolution of a practitioner in the field of business analytics, specifically a Christian practitioner, an analogy may be helpful. Consider the capabilities provided by business analytics as an apple tree. God provides His children with a seed, namely data, to bless us with wisdom. “Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Genesis 47:23).

Data is not the answer nor the end, but it is the foundational element for any type of analysis. God expects us to act as farmers, to use this seed, to work with it, to labor in it, to care for it, to cultivate it, and ultimately, to be blessed by the yield of our diligence. Data is the apple seed, data science is the field, and as the tree (the practitioner’s knowledge and wisdom) grows from seed to sapling to the fruit bearing stage, it is progressing, becoming more valuable and more of a blessing to the farmer. This blessing is multifaceted and represented as the apples, the wood, and even the shade the branches and leaves provide.

In the same way, as a practitioner utilizes data and advances through Bloom’s Taxonomy, they continuously improve their analytical prowess and the blessings they can pass on to God’s children in the form of new and useful intelligence. When the recipients (of the work of the data analysts) receive and apply this intelligence, wisdom is the yield. Christians are expected to be dedicated and diligent in this work as trusted stewards of God’s resources including data and personal assets such as intelligence, time, energy, and more.

Onward Christian Soldier

It is not important for a Christian leader to gain wisdom related to business analytics – it is essential. God has provided Christian leaders with the materials, resources, skills, and methods to seek out and pursue truth using scientifically sound approaches and sources, including analytics and data. This is good work. Despite the struggles, challenges, and perhaps setbacks along the way, Christian data analysts are required to strive forward utilizing the talents God has provided to spread truth throughout His world. As a student progresses through Bloom’s Taxonomy or an apple tree fans its branches, the Christian data analyst evolves throughout this process, increasing the value of the yield and improving the processes and methods involved that are “focused on developing computationally efficient solutions for solving complex large-scale problems” (Farley et al. 2018).




References

Ahmed, M., & Pathan, A. (2019). Data Analytics. CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429446177

Bartlett, R. (2013). A Practitioner's Guide to Business Analytics: Using Data Analysis Tools to Improve Your Organization’s Decision Making and Strategy. McGraw-Hill.

Boeren, E., & Íñiguez-Berrozpe, T. (2022). Unpacking PIAAC’s Cognitive Skills Measurements Through Engagement with Bloom’s Taxonomy. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 73, 101151. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1016/j.stueduc.2022.101151

English Standard Version Bible. (2001). ESV Online. https://esv.literalword.com/

Farley, S. S., Dawson, A., Simon, J. G., John, W. W. (2018). Situating Ecology as a Big-Data Science: Current Advances, Challenges, and Solutions. BioScience, 68(8), 563-576. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy068

Santos, R. C., & Martinho, J. L. (2020). An Industry 4.0 Maturity Model Proposal. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 31(5), 1023-1043. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-09-2018-0284

Zaidi, N. B., Hwang, C., Scott, S., Stallard, S., Purkiss, J., & Hortsch, M. (2017). Climbing Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid: Lessons from A Graduate Histology Course. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(5), 456-464. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1002/ase.1685

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