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Why Cornell Just Launched An Analytics MBA Program With LinkedIn's Big Data Chief

Johnson School's joins plethora of programs exploring data

Thu Mar 3 2016

Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management has just launched a data analytics program in its MBA taught by LinkedIn’s big data chief, BusinessBecause has learnt.

The latest high-tech offering comes just weeks after we revealed Cornell is developing a separate data-focused MBA course with Twitter, Yahoo, and Amazon.

Cornell Johnson’s dean Soumitra Dutta said data analytics demand is surging at the New York-based business school. “The students themselves are eager to learn more about digital technology because they see the impact it’s having on business,” he said.

Speaking to BB, Soumitra also confirmed that Salesforce and EY have teamed up with Cornell to infuse their tech expertise with its Digital Technology Immersion program, to launch later in 2016.

Companies themselves are being forced to embrace digital for fear of being “uberized”, said Nicolas Glady, Accenture strategic business analytics chair at ESSEC Business School.

“They do not want to be disintermediated by a pure player or a platform that would make their business model obsolete,” he said.

Data analytics has become a trending MBA topic as companies have shown great demand for managers who can crunch data to improve decision making and set business strategy.

“We’re seeing demand that outstrips supply,” said Mark Kennedy, director of the KPMG Centre for Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School.

Business schools have capitalized on the data deluge, offering MBA programs on analytics, such as those at HEC Paris and Berkeley Haas, or specialist masters, like those on offer at NYU Stern, USC Marshall and IE Business School.

Business education is no longer about “old” skills, said Theos Evgeniou, professor of technology management at INSEAD, the business school. It’s about “both traditional management skills and data science ones”.

But there have been calls to speed up the adoption of digital curricula in MBA programs. “To date, the typical b-school is frankly way behind,” said Ted Malloch, fellow in management practice at Oxford’s Saïd Business School. “There are some on digital marketing or cyber security or IT strategy, but it is rare to find comprehensive courses,” he added.

Cornell’s Soumitra admitted that integration of business with engineering and other tech disciplines has not been fast enough. “There is more to be done on that front,” he said.

But he believes Cornell’s strengths in the sciences will stand the business school in good stead. “Cornell has great strengths in technology. It’s clearly the tech [and] science based Ivy [League] school,” Soumitra said.

Cornell University recently announced that the Johnson School is merging with sister schools the School of Hotel Administration and the School of Applied Economics and Management, to form the Cornell College of Business. Soumitra will lead the new venture and his goal is to create a business school that is entirely unique.

Leveraging Cornell’s success in science and engineering will no doubt be a key advantage. “The kind of strengths we’ll have will give us a realistic basis to engage some of the big issues society faces. We have to go beyond business,” said INSEAD’s former dean of technology.