Analytics: Not just for IT anymore, educators say

The rise of analytics is partly due to the popularity of social media.

Demand for business school graduates who can gather, analyze, and translate reams of online data will steadily rise over the next decade – a statistic that could make business analytics curriculum a focal point for campuses large and small.

A partnership between Yale University’s School of Management Center for Customer Insights and IBM, announced April 29, gives business analytics a high profile in higher education, as Yale business students will get free access to IBM’s analytics technology and curriculum that, until recently, was only essential in the IT world.

The ability to make sense of millions – sometimes billions – of bits of information can make a recent graduate valuable to companies with a strong online presence, Yale officials said.

About 70 percent of consumers’ first interaction with a service or product is now on the internet, according to a Yale video detailing the school’s IBM partnership.

With more than 2 billion people using the web worldwide, small companies and gigantic corporations have piles of customer data to sift through – data that can show who is attracted to a certain product online.

Sharon Oster, dean of the Yale School of Management, said that over the past five years, business leaders have sought ways to make sense of “masses and masses of numbers” that could help improve the bottom line through personalized advertising campaigns aimed at specific demographics.

“It’s more than statistics, and that’s a challenge to teach,” Oster said in Yale’s video announcement. “When you have a plethora of data it means you have to think a little more strategically up front about what you do with that data.”

Demand for professionals with management analysis skills will increase by 24 percent by 2019, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be a 22 percent increase in demand for operation research analysts and a 13 percent jump in demand for statisticians.