Companies that invest in and gain value from their data will have a distinct advantage over competitors, according to research from EY, and the gap between great and good will widen as emerging technologies which enable faster, easier data analysis continue to develop.
By turning information into intelligence, managers can create market advantages, manage risk, improve controls and, ultimately, enhance operational performance and boost earnings.
It is a sizzling hot topic that every aspiring business leader must consider. Those without the pre-requisite analytical skills sought by sectors like finance and consulting will be at a disadvantage, agrees Mark Kennedy, associate professor of strategy and director of the KPMG Centre for Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School.
“It’s no longer enough to know how to use [Microsoft] Excel very well,” he says.
Big data has created fresh business models like those of Salesforce or SAP and even entire new industries, but it has bombarded its way into virtually every sector, from healthcare and hedge funds to banking and brewing.
“Data and analytics have become part of the fabric of how we do business. It’s almost instrumental,” says Matthew Guest, head of Deloitte’s digital strategy practice for EMEA.
While the ability to capture and store vast amounts of data has grown at a rate of knots, the use of technology to analyze entire data sets has been slower to take root, and there continues to be a worrying skills shortage across sectors.
“Increasingly, we see client[s] make more data-driven decisions and putting analytics at the heart of their businesses,” says Gregor McHardy, managing director and technology consulting lead for Accenture UK and Ireland. “So our teams are increasingly bringing data and analytics skills into project analysis and execution.”
Managers must hone new tools to analyze and visualize information, and also better their ability to communicate with data scientists, says Theos Evgeniou, professor of decision sciences and technology management at INSEAD, the business school, and director of its analytics center, elab.
Yet this represents a challenge for educational institutes: “Education is no longer about old versus new skills, but old and new skills; both traditional management skills and data science,” he says.
Business schools like USC Marshall and McCombs have developed specialist degrees focused on business data and top MBA programs, from Wharton’s in the US to HEC Paris’s, have edged analytics into their curricula. Their outrageous popularity has helped address the talent gap while opening up a new market of students. “Definitely the demand is there. We could roll out another class if we wanted to,” says Yehuda Bassok, chair of the Department of Data Sciences at USC Marshall.
But, “we are not trying to train our students to become data scientists”, he adds — students learn to use data science to solve management conundrums.
By crunching data, trained talent can bring huge value to their organizations. McKinsey & Company estimates that big data could create $300 billion in value in healthcare alone each year; clever use of location data across industries could capture $600 billion in consumer surplus. Conversely, poor data management can cost up to 35% of a business’s operating revenue, according to research from A.T Kearney.
“Companies are generating new products and services based on new analytical capabilities that help them gain competitive advantage, engage with customers, and differentiate,” says Juan José Casado Quintero, academic director of the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data at IE Business School.
Companies with business models that successfully leverage client data are leaders of their industries, he says, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
While most companies are ecstatic about harnessing the power of information, the challenges stacked against them are steep. More than 95% of respondents to a KPMG survey admitted that untapped benefits of data remain on the table.
Experts say shifting to a data-driven culture, making data available across organizations, and embedding data scientists within companies are key problems.
“Unlocking the potential of analytics takes more than just hiring data scientists or building assets,” says Roy Lee, assistant dean of global programs at NYU Stern, which runs an MS in Business Analytics.
“Organizations have to challenge long-standing processes and oftentimes strong-willed personalities to initiate a shift,” he says.
The challenges have done nothing to dampen demand for analytics talent, however, which remains rampant, according to McKinsey, whose report says 1.5 million more managers and analysts will be required by 2018.
“Demand is strong because companies are still learning how to leverage their data,” says NYU Stern’s Roy.
They are collecting the data but struggling to effectively analyze it: “We can’t develop experts in business analytics fast enough,” he says.
I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.
Internationality and diversity of opportunities
About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.
Great selection of people
While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.
Best in France for Grande ecole
A prestigious business school. Languages are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.
Diversity and quality of fellow students
Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.
The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs
The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.
HEC Paris awaits you
HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.
A dream institute
Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!