“I think you’re going to see places that believe they have a leg up on their fellow practitioners by offering these courses,” Wagner said. “It’s very hot stuff, but people aren’t sure what to do. Maybe it will be slow and start with simple courses, or it might be as full-blown as full degree programs.”

If institutions can’t help close the skills gap, Big Data experts said that the global economy could lose out on trillions of dollars.

A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that “open data” alone (Big Data that is made freely available to others) would “unlock $3 trillion to $5 trillion in economic value annually across seven sectors.”

The potential value of open data, the institute estimated, could be as much $1.4 trillion in consumer products; $920 billion in transportation; $580 billion in electricity; $510 billion in oil and gas; $450 billion in health care; and $280 billion in consumer finance.

The sector with the most to gain, McKinsey Global concluded, is education.

“Annual spending on K-12 and post-secondary education exceeds $4 trillion worldwide,” the report stated. “With so many resources dedicated to public education, there are substantial opportunities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of current systems.”

By using data to improve instruction, match students to programs and employment, make education financing more transparent, and increase the efficiency of system administrations, the education sector could see an increase of $900 billion to $1.2 trillion in additional annual value.

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