Demand for Data Analysis Skills Fuels Rise in ‘Masters in Data Analytics’

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An increase in the demand for data analysis by organizations has given rise to a new generation of specialist masters programs in data analytics. In fact, a number of top business schools, including NYU Stern, USC Marshall, and Melbourne are now offering data degree programs, Seb Murray notes in BusinessBecause.

And as companies look to analytics to get the insights they need to make the best business decisions, more schools, including Chicago Booth, HEC Paris, and Berkeley’s Haas School, are mining data within their MBA programs, he says.

“Companies are increasingly data-driven and there is a vast need for professionals who are able to analyze that data and translate it into meaningful business outcomes,” says Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego.

Rady School is just one of the high-ranking business school to launch a masters in business analytics program focusing on the application of analytics in business environments, as well as on topics such as consumer data and the supply chain, according to Murray.

Although students are desperate to sharpen their analytical skills, the increase in the new programs is driven by business, Murray notes. That’s because there aren’t enough people skilled in analytics to meet the demand.

Only 14% of companies have all the talent and capabilities they need to fully leverage data and analytics, according to KPMG.

“In the last two years we’ve seen a tremendous increase in [data and analytics] adoption and maturity,” says Christian Rast, KPMG global head of data and analytics. “Yet, we also know that business leaders face some critical challenges in realizing the full value of their data insights in the areas of revenue growth, serving customers and overall competitive advantage.”

And there is a need among companies to hire experts in the field who can lead change processes, according to José Casado, academic director of the Madrid-based IE Business School’s Master in Business Analytics and Big Data.

“Big data analysis is one of the main technological engines that are transforming today’s business organizations,” he says.

And that need appears so great that online programs—as well as programs at traditional institutions—are springing up to enable managers to master the art of analytics wherever they choose. For instance, Indiana’s Kelley School of Business and Arizona’s W. P. Carey School are offering online analytics courses that will help managers, marketers and others who regularly interact with data scientists.

“Much of the demand is driven by people who are already out of school. They are in the workforce,” says Julia Stiglitz, head of business development at Coursera, an online learning group with 14 million users that offers data science courses.

The crucial skill, though, is how to translate this into business insight, says Arne Strauss, associate professor of operational research at Warwick Business School in the UK. “Great technology and methodology does not help if the understanding of how to apply it to the business is flawed,” he says.

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