The Future of Big Data Analytics
December 1, 2014
Due to advancements in technology, there has been a shift in students’ ambitions at business school. While finance and management consulting remain heavy hitters, the rise of technology has initiated an increase in the popularity of big data analytics in business school programs. According to the Wall Street Journal, data and the ability to assess market trends are driving business decisions and MBA students want to be at the forefront of this emerging market.
With a plethora of numbers and information available to companies today, the skills and ability to analyze this data is in high demand. According to Susan Athey, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor of Economics, managers today need to be able to “understand and evaluate” hard data. If they cannot keep up or “directly engage in it themselves, they are left out or left behind.”
Accordingly, big companies like General Electric Co. and The Walt Disney Co. have been quoted as saying they need more hires with analytics talent, which is a problem because they cannot find the talent.
According to a 2013 report by Accenture, the financial industry in the United States will face a shortage of nearly 260,000 data analysts by 2015.
In an effort to meet these demands and fill this gaping hole, business schools are making a cogent effort to educate their MBAs in big data and analytics.
Some schools are even opening specific programs - Masters in Business Analytics - in an effort to fulfill these needs. In the past two years, five business schools, including University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, have opened one-year master’s programs in business analytics. MIT’s Sloan School of Management is soon to join this list.
So, what does this mean for you, your business school aspirations, and your eventual career path?
If you have experience with statistics, analytics, or computer science, you are in good shape! With the increasing number of analytics programs and the increasing number of big data jobs comes an increase in demand for students with this background. Spots are opening and they need to be filled. So, be sure to emphasize your unique background and specialized skills - there will likely be a need for your niche in the admissions office.
If you don't have an analytics or particularly strong quantitative background, be ready to address that in your interviews or in your essays. Show that you are prepared to get quantitative in business school or express why you do not care to be numbers driven. If you take this route, be sure that your story is cohesive and well-tied together.
According to Athey, "MBAs who have good business intuition but also can speak the language of the statisticians intelligently are rock stars.” Wherever possible - essays, letters of recommendation, resume - strike the balance between analytics and business to put your inner rock star on display.
As the world’s technological capabilities continue to grow, so will the amount of data available and therefore the demand for people with the ability to analyze it - not just in the technology industry, but in other spaces as well. MBAs with skills to meet this increasing need are sure to be in very high demand.