Big Data and the Demand for Business Analytics Talent

Working Abroad

Core-competency, sustainability, hyper-local, synergy — these terms are all among today’s hottest business buzzwords. Also among the most coveted words used by executives in board rooms around the globe today is “big data” and “business analytics.” You hear these terms all the time in press releases, research papers, news articles, and job descriptions, but what do they really mean and why are they important to know?

Let’s Start with the Basics and Pull Out a Dictionary….

Big data (n.) is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications just aren’t enough. These challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying and information privacy.

According to Martin Hilbert’s “Big Data For Development”, big data can be described by the following characteristics:

  • Volume: The quantity of generated and stored data. The size of the data determines the value and potential insight and whether it can actually be considered big data or not.
  • Variety: The type and nature of the data. This helps people who analyze it to effectively use the resulting insight.
  • Velocity: In this context, the speed at which the data is generated and processed to meet the demands and challenges that lie in the path of growth and development.
  • Variability: Inconsistency of the data set can hamper processes to handle and manage it.
  • Veracity: The quality of captured data can vary greatly, affecting accurate analysis.

Meanwhile, NYU Stern defines business analytics (n.) as “the study of data through statistical and operations analysis, the formation of predictive models, application of optimization techniques and the communication of these results to customers, business partners and colleague executives. It is the intersection of business and data science.”

Business analytics makes extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive modeling, and fact-based management to drive decision making.

Great, I have Some New Cocktail Party Lingo…

But How has Big Data and Business Analytics “Changed the Game” of Modern Business?

Technology big dataAs management consultancy firms open new service lines that utilize new digital technologies, the need for data specialists has greatly increased. Gartner, a technology advisory group, estimates that big data had created 4.4 million jobs last year. Game changer indeed.

“Digital technology affects and transforms every aspect of business, from objects to people’s lives,” Marc Vos, senior partner at Boston Consulting Group — which works with Bologna Business School — told Business Because.

“The digital transformation cannot be resolved by connecting an app or a new site to an existing business; it is a much more radical change.”

That radical change means an investment in big data and business analytics talent. Gregor McHardy, consulting lead for communications, media and technology at Accenture UK and Ireland, also told Business Because:

“Increasingly, we see clients make more data-driven decisions and putting analytics at the heart of their businesses, so our teams are increasingly bringing data and analytics skills into project analysis and execution.”

Which Industries Show the Greatest Interest in Big Data and Business Analytics Talent?

The short answer is all of them!

Data analytics has become a job description for an increasing number of healthcare management positions. Kimberly MacPherson, associate director of health management at Berkeley-Haas School of Business, told Business Because that data mining “is critical” in business nowadays and “analytics is a core skill in many domains and healthcare is no different.”

Professor Jeremy Petranka of Duke Fuqua School of Business adds that “[Understanding] how analytics can fit into an organization’s overall healthcare delivery strategy is significantly more important than being able to understand high-powered statistical tools.”

In finance, banks are beginning to use big data as well. According to Business Because, Citi, Santander and Lloyds Banking Group are among banks exploring the potential of big data in a number of capacities. Nick Williams, consumer digital director at Lloyds, says future successful banks will be those who can interpret and act on data in real time to provide customers with a personalized experience.

“Recognising the importance of digital and the part it will play in the future of the bank, we have developed a bespoke digital graduate scheme,” he told Business Because.

But nowhere is demand stronger than in the technology sector, where companies like SAP, IBM, and Google hire the most qualified graduates with expertise in big data and business analytics.

One of these “most qualified graduates” was Chengya Liang, a recent MBA alumnus of Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, a leader in data analytics. Chengya works at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a $55 billion life sciences company in San Francisco’s Bay Area, handling next-gen sequencing used to decode DNA from patients and creating huge data sets that can be used for combating infectious diseases.

“This [work] will be of huge benefit to our society,” Liang told Business Because. “My MBA played a critical role in helping me transition from my medical research background.”

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About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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