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Meet The Team: Juan José Casado Quintero, Master in Business Analytics, IE Business School

New program will tackle demand for business data scientists

Sat Oct 31 2015

When Juan José Casado Quintero worked for IBM, he visited the Watson Research Center in New York, home to the US tech corporation’s Jeopardy-playing super computer, and tasted a “cocktail” created by the AI using compound algorithms.

Now at Madrid’s IE Business School, he may be more used to drinking Sangrias. But the Watson experience highlights the growing use of big data to create everything from new drinks flavour combinations to corporate market entry strategies.

The pervasive nature of data, which has gripped virtually every sector, is one reasons for the launch by IE of the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data.

As Juan Jose, who is academic director of the program, alludes to in this interview, there is a great need for business leaders to master data analytics.

In addition to working at the top Spanish school, Juan Jose is the corporate director for Spain of Data Science & Analytics at Bupa, the international health group which serves more than 22 million customers in more than 190 countries.

How is big data changing the management of organizations?

Big data analytics is creating a revolution across organizations — and it is a key factor in how enterprises face the great challenge of their digital transformation.

The real revolution taking place is in bringing analytics into the “front office”. Companies are generating new products and services based on new analytical capabilities that help them gain competitive advantage, engage with customers, and differentiate from their competitors. Those companies with business models that successfully leverage the available information of their clients — for example Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — become the leaders of their sector.

In what industries do you expect big data to disrupt business?

The answer to this question is simple: all! Recently, I challenged my students in the Master of Big Data at IE Business School to name a sector in which I would be unable to cite a case of use of these new technologies.

Of course, after more than 15 attempts they decided to withdraw. One of their suggestions was cuisine. But I told them how I worked for IBM and personally visited the Watson Research Center in New York, where I tasted the first “cocktail” created by chef Watson, an artificially intelligent system developed by IBM to create original, totally unique recipes with the help of flavour compound algorithms.

Despite the huge demand for data analytics, reports continue to cite a lack of adequate talent. Are we not producing the management talent business needs?

71% of CEOs believe that analytics will be their company’s main competitive advantage in coming years. This figure has increased from 30% in just two years, and it seems that demand is growing faster than talent can fill positions. 

This is why it’s so important for business schools to have programs like IE’s Master In Business Analytics and Big Data, in order to train professionals from different backgrounds to become data scientists. There is a demand for big data expertise.

Are business school graduates without analytics training at a disadvantage in the jobs market?

Absolutely. A recent Gartner report defined a new trend called “citizen data scientist” as all people who create or generate models that leverage predictive or prescriptive analytics but whose primary job function is outside of the field of statistics and analytics. It could be a line-of-business role, a business analyst, or a member of the business intelligence or IT team. This means that in the near future we will all need to develop analytical skills in order to succeed in our jobs.

What challenges do companies face in developing a culture in which they can truly utilize big data?

·        Truly believing that developing analytical skills will be the key to their survival in the coming years.

·        Communicating across the organization the importance and impact of creating a data-driven organization.

·        Making changes in the organization to make things happen, and to create analytical positions within the C-suite, such as chief data scientist and chief data officer.

·        Investing in attracting analytical talent. This is not just a matter of wages; it is a matter of creating an attractive working environment for these highly demanded professionals.