Dashboard: Degree Programs Arise to Train Budding BI Experts

Business intelligence industry leaders have been lamenting a lack of BI skills in the workforce, prompting a host of institutions of higher learning to educate the masses.

Business intelligence industry leaders have been bemoaning a dearth of BI skills in the workforce, and a host of institutions of higher learning are setting out to correct the shortfall.

"We've found that the consultants with the wisdom, experience and BI skills needed in the current marketplace are concentrated within the older age groups," Graham Walter, a vice president at Cognos, recently stated. "There's a severe shortage of skilled BI consultants among 25 to 35 year olds."

The need for these skills is growing: Large businesses will need three times as many BI personnel in 2008 as they did in 2004, according to Gartner. Among the institutions responding, North Carolina State University is creating a data analytics graduate degree program set to debut in 2007. The program will offer a one-year master's degree that will help students understand analytical concepts and provide hands-on work with current tools. SAS, which grew out of an NC State project 30 years ago, is helping to develop the courses.

This summer, Cognos opened a Cognos Academy, a program that will help consultants--as many as 8,000 over the next three years--obtain Cognos 8 BI Professional Certification. Cognos customers will also be invited to attend.

Last fall, Bellevue Community College in Washington launched a BI certificate and degree program offering a BI Analyst certificate requiring 30 hours of instruction, a BI Developer certificate requiring 45 hours, and an associates degree requiring 90 hours of instruction.

So BI skill-building opportunities are coming, and where jobs are promised, learning should follow. --Penny Crosman

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