Some of the biggest tech and professional services firms are pouring investment into analytics centres in joint ventures with the world’s top business schools. KPMG, IBM and Infineon have all set-up research operations at management and technical schools that are helping them to tap into talent.
KPMG invested £20 million in the establishment of a new Centre for Advanced Business Analytics at London’s Imperial College Business School. The professional services group wants to place the UK at the forefront of data science. The centre will help to solve data analytics issues for organizations, such as enabling banks to predict fraud or helping retailers better understand consumer behaviour.
“We are still at the silent movie era with respect to evolution of big data and together with Imperial, we will break new ground,” said Alwin Magimay, head of digital and analytics at KPMG UK.
But the collaboration with academics is about developing the people and skills to use data to drive new services, KPMG said, and is also a recruitment strategy to find the best talent. By developing closer ties with business schools the firm will be able to pick the “crème of the crop”, according Mazhar Hussain, a director at KPMG Digital who will lead the new centre.
“Strategically, that is the opportunity,” he told BusinessBecause. “We will use that opportunity to get the crème of the crop,” he said.
Accounting firms have been slowly moving away from their audit roots and into more lucrative areas of business, such as consulting. KPMG is in the middle of a $1 billion investment program aimed at developing new data and analytics solutions for clients.
KPMG International reported in December that revenues across its global network rose roughly 6%. But much of the growth in its advisory business was driven by increased demand by companies for big data management.
Rival firm PwC in October reported that global revenues rose 5.6% – but it recorded a 10% rise in revenues at its advisory business.
For business students, this is a potential opportunity to move into one of the biggest growth areas in terms of employment in 2014. There is a dearth of management talent skilled in analytics, say recruitment firms.
Jennifer George, director of the master’s in business analytics at Melbourne Business School said: “There are distinct and specialised jobs available in analytics and these are quite difficult to fill because of the lack of graduates coming onto the market with those skills.”
Tech companies are also investing in analytics centres to drive insights and hire the brightest graduates through internships. Infineon opened a Business Analytics Center of Competence at the National University of Singapore in October.
The listed semiconductor maker said it will invest in data management technologies, developing analytical skills and visualization techniques, and integrating analytics into decisions and processes.
Robert Leindl, chief information officer at Infineon, said he hoped to leverage the country’s ICT capabilities in infrastructure, learning institutions and human resources.
Singapore has set up about 10 university programs in data analytics – an important growth capability for the country that is expected to add $1billion to the Singapore economy by 2017, according to Terence Gan, a director at Singapore’s Economic Development Board.
“This centre will be partnering our institutes… to offer analytics-related internships and projects. These are important partnerships, because they help to augment classroom learning with real-life business cases,” he said.
IBM has set-up several business analytics centres at different global business schools and universities over the past four years. The US technology group struck a deal with Telfer School of Management to launch a new Analytics Research Center in 2010.
Both parties invested more than $4.8 million in cash and in-kind time of IBM research and development, software, services, consulting and support staff. IBM also contributed hardware and software, while the Telfer School established a $1 million endowment fund as a contribution to the new centre.
IBM has poured funds into analytics and plans to add another nine locations to its international network of data centres.
It has invested at least $10 billion in organic investments as well as 14 strategic acquisitions to build its business analytics capabilities, it said in a statement. This includes the assembly of 4,000 analytics consultants in 2010.