Warwick Business School has partnered cloud computing juggernaut IBM to create a new course to guide students through the ethical minefield of using big data and real-time analytics.
The tie-up marks the latest launch of an analytics program by top business schools, as business analytics and the data deluge whet the appetites of aspiring leaders everywhere. Over the past few months Berkeley’s Haas School, Wharton, and San Diego’s Rady School have all announced the creation of new big data courses.
IBM is providing $20,000 to support the development of new postgraduate training at Warwick. The investment, although modest, follows a stream of capital injections by large companies into business schools to advance the field of business analytics. KPMG this year pledged £20 million to support big data initiatives at London’s Imperial College Business School. IBM and Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management have invested around $5 million into a similar center at the Canadian school.
“Many companies are now where science was 25 years ago and there has been so much development in the use of big data and data analysis,” said Paul Martynenko, IBM’s vice president and technical executive for Europe.
However Emma Uprichard, associate professor at Warwick’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, said: “Researchers are increasingly turning to online tools with little or no ethical guidance.”
There are growing concerns in the business community around privacy and security of data. These concerns have been stoked by high-profile data breaches at the likes of TalkTalk, Ashley Madison and Carphone Warehouse.
“There are privacy considerations — as we know from at least one case of predictive analytics going a bit too far in one company from the retail industry,” said Michael Goul, Department of Information Systems chair at W. P. Carey School of Business.
IBM has pushed heavily for big data to break into business education programs. In 2013, it teamed up with hundreds of schools to focus on analytics in the hope of filling the four million jobs that it predicts will be created by the end of this year as a result of big data.
The academic institutions fused with IBM include Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Yale and HEC Paris, which revamped its MBA curriculum to include a focus on big data.
Scores of top business schools have created specific analytics degrees, such as the programs at USC Marshall, Melbourne and McCombs business schools.
The insatiable demand for business analytics training stems from strong employer signals that advanced analytical skills are now an essential component of management — and there is a worrying talent gulf.
“We can’t develop experts in business analytics fast enough,” said Roy Lee, assistant dean of global programs at NYU Stern, which runs an MS in Business Analytics.
Juan José Casado Quintero, academic director of IE Business School’s Master in Business Analytics & Big Data, said: “Demand is growing faster than talent can fill positions.”
Experts argue that there is a need to bridge the gap between data scientists and executives and to reform company cultures to be more open to innovation.
Theos Evgeniou, professor of decision sciences and technology management at the business school INSEAD, said: “Being open to innovations that come from bottom-up instead of top-down may be a challenge for many organizations.”