Why are colleges getting free Big Data services?

Many colleges and universities are finding that Big Data analytics services aren’t included in the axiom preaching that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

colleges-big-data-servicesHoping to mold a generation of college graduates specializing in analyzing data using certain proprietary Big Data software, companies are offering their services for free to campuses nationwide.

The latest offer is from California-based Predixion Software, which announced its Predixion in the Classroom (PIC) initiative Jan. 28.

Students at St. Joseph University, University of Maryland University College, the University of Washington, and the University of Western Michigan will have free access to Predixion’s predictive model software and related services through the PIC program.

“The expectation is that students who use their software in class will be more apt to want to use it in their future careers, so these companies see this as an investment,” Murray Jennex, a professor in computer science at San Diego State University, said in an interview with CruxialCIO.

Predixion’s offer to U.S. schools is the latest from companies leading the way in data analytics as universities look for ways to use that data to streamline campus infrastructure and trim student and institutional costs.

IBM announced in August that it has has added nine new institutions to its academic partnerships that focus on Big Data. More than 1,000 universities around the world are involved in similar collaborations with IBM.

While some partnerships, like the one at The George Washington University, will yield full masters programs in business analytics, others will produce smaller initiatives such as the one-week intensive course at Georgetown. The collaborations will allow the universities to use IBM software as well as for access to local IBM experts.

Policy makers, not just private companies, are investing in higher education’s Big Data push.