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11/23/2009
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Next Steps for Analytics in the Big-Data Era

December events set agenda for education on analytics, business intelligence and data warehousing. Universities reset curricula.

With interest in analytics exploding along with the data that makes predictive analysis possible, there's no doubt that data-driven decision-making is the way forward for most organizations. But do these firms have the talent they need to pull important metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) out of their data? And how prepared are executives to draw insights and make quick decisions based on their analyses? With CIO surveys, salary surveys and job listings all pointing toward surging interest in analytics, software vendors, commercial interests and universities are scrambling to develop the needed talent.

  • A soon-to-be-published report on "The Current State of Analytics in the Corporation" has been released by the Business School at Villanova University. Using research gathered for the report, the university has revised its curriculum to better support data-oriented decision-making.

  • On December 14-15, the 2,000-member Teradata University Network is planning a Business Intelligence Congress in Phoenix. The goal of the event is to set top-10 agendas for research and course development on analytics.

  • On December 9, Fordham University and IBM will gather leaders from academia, the venture capital community, government and the health care industry for a two-hour discussion on the coming wave of new jobs that will require analytics skills.

Reacting to growing interest in analytics in recent years, the Business School at Villanova University formed a Business Analytics Strategic Interest Group in late 2007. The group, which counts a dozen corporations, two integrators and two software companies among its members, provided feedback on changing the school's curriculum with data-centric decision-making in mind. For example, a new course on analytics and risk assessment was added for undergraduates and the statistics courses required at both the undergrad and MBA levels were updated to be more practical and applied.

"From the point of view of business, what leaders really need is to be able to understand data, and we think these changes will give students a stronger preparation for the kinds of analyses they'll face in business," says Matthew Liberatore, a professor at Villanova who co-authored the report.

The University is also contemplating adding a minor in analytics because it could "supercharge" any business major, Liberatore asserts. "[Such a degree] would help them understand risk, what the possible outcomes are and what the range of possible rewards are for decisions within their disciplines," he says.

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