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University partnerships have potential to strengthen analytics movement

Rachel Wheeler Archive

Data analysis is expected to play a pivotal role in businesses' day-to-day operations for years to come, but it's difficult for companies to know exactly how to proceed. The analytics bandwagon is difficult to climb aboard because the field is always changing - the basics of statistics remain the same, but new technologies and philosophies have brought about constant innovations in big data.

For this reason, it's vital that companies form solid partnerships with colleges and universities to emphasize analytics training as an ongoing pursuit, not merely a one-time measure. Many of today's universities place a high priority on the big data movement - they're looking to teach as many students as possible about the technologies and the critical thinking skills needed to become analysts in the years ahead.

Their efforts are definitely needed, according to Information Week. The news source recently revealed that the big data employment gap may be even wider than originally feared - according to the United States Department of Labor, the need for analytics-trained workers is expected to grow by 25 percent between now and 2018. Further, according to Gartner, over 4.4 million big data-related jobs will be created by 2015, and only a third of them will be filled.

Georgetown University professor Betsy Page Sigman told Information Week that higher education must be involved if companies are going to stay ahead of the rapidly evolving technology world.

"It's important for universities to partner with companies so that they can stay cutting-edge," Sigman said. "It's important that [schools] find companies they can have a relationship with so that they can expose their students to new technologies that are out there."

Not all of the new skills that today's students are acquiring are technical. It's not just a matter of becoming proficient with high-tech tools for storing information and ensuring data quality - some of the analytics movement is simply about learning critical thinking skills.

"I want to give our students the big data savvy," Sigman said. "They're not going to do the supporting technologies, for the most part, but some of them will. A lot of them will become business and financial managers or market research analysts ... and some will do operations work in a factory with a lot of data."

The need for data analysis may be constantly changing, but it's not going anywhere. All companies must stay abreast of the latest developments.