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Universities, B-Schools Bet On Big Data Research As Students Eye Analytics

As top schools see big data being critical to business leadership, many are delving into analytics research.

Thu Aug 13 2015

As top business schools place bets on big data being critical to business leadership, many are delving into analytics research.

The development of the £42 million big data research centre led by top UK universities and their business schools is gathering pace.

The Alan Turing Institute has confirmed £10 million of research funding from Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a research partnership with Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, and a collaboration with Nasdaq-listed computer manufacturer Cray Inc and EPSRC, the agency that funds UK engineering research.

Meanwhile, Accenture and Duke University this week announced an alliance focused on developing advanced analytics solutions to address business challenges.

Duke graduate and undergraduate students are set to work with Accenture professionals on two initial projects around patient data in the healthcare industry. The tie-up follows the development by Accenture in June of an analytics course for the MBA program at California’s Haas business school.

That followed the establishment of a £20 million business analytics research centre at Imperial College Business School in London, funded by KPMG, the professional services firm.

The Alan Turing Institute is a joint venture between the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL. 

Jo Johnson, the UK minister for universities and science, said the institute will help cement Britain’s place as a world leader in big data, computer science and advanced mathematics.

The centre is expected to bring together academics and industry experts to solve problems ranging supply chain management to micro-targeted marketing.

Organizations are desperate to unlock the value of their data and the education sector is keen to play a part in the big data revolution.

José Casado of IE Business School, said:  “Big data analysis is one of the main technological engines that are transforming today’s business organizations.”

The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that big data could benefit the UK economy by £216 billion and create 58,000 new jobs in the UK before 2017.

Professor John Aston at Cambridge University, said that research around big data could revolutionize our ability to compare, cross-reference and analyse data in ways that have previously been beyond the bounds of human or computer analysis.

But globally there is a dire shortage of analytically trained talent, with KPMG reporting that only 14% of companies have all the talent and capabilities they need to leverage their data.

There is a need for managers in particular to hone the art of analytics. Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego, said: “Companies are increasingly data-driven and there is a vast need for professionals who are able to analyse that data and translate it into meaningful business outcomes.”

Education programs focused specifically on analytics have cropped up to help close the gap.

The business schools NYU Stern, USC Marshall and Melbourne have all launched degrees focused on business analytics. Others, including Chicago Booth and HEC Paris, have incorporated big data into their MBA programs.

Data programs at ESSEC Business School, Amsterdam Business School, and CEU Business School will also start this year.

Research is seen as key to providing the resources needed for organizations to tackle their data.

Howard Covington, chairman of The Alan Turing Institute, said:  “Data analytics has the opportunity to transform the UK’s and world’s economies. But in order for that to happen, we must provide the leading data scientists with access to the best possible computing resources in the field.”