The big data bandwagon continues to roll through the world’s top business schools, with University of Edinburgh Business School the latest to announce a tie-up with a large corporation to bring business analytics to its students.
A collaboration with Dixons Carphone, created last year through the £3.7 billion merger of electricals chain Dixons and mobile group Carphone, will help fund a major drive to develop teaching and research in data science within the school, which has invested £500,000 in data initiatives.
The retail giant hopes to create opportunities for graduates who take part in the initiative.
Stuart Ramage, e-commerce director at Dixons Carphone, said the company’s online retail platform has been built around consumer analytics.
“We therefore want to play our part in building a new generation of data-savvy business graduates who will help drive our company and the industry forward,” he said.
Dixons Carphone joins a stream of businesses tapping into business schools for analytics talent.
John Davis, industry head at Google UK, said: “Actionable, data-driven insights are key to driving business performance, so we need to upskill the future workforce who can tap into these opportunities.”
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. Accenture this year partnered California’s Haas School of Business to provide MBA students with new classes and a lecture series focused on analytics.
Juan José Casado Quintero, academic director of the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data at IE Business School, said those companies with business models that can leverage data become leaders of their sector, such as Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“It is a key factor in how enterprises face the great challenge of their digital transformation,” he said.
Edinburgh joins a huge drive to champion and develop the role of data science and analytics in business education. As business becomes more digital, there is a growing and vital need to develop graduate knowledge and skills in analytics.
“Big data is now ubiquitous, so it’s essential [that] we equip the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs with the skills to manage and analyze it,” said Professor Ian Clarke, dean of University of Edinburgh Business School.
There is a huge dearth of management talent who can use data to derive insights and form strategy.
“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.
Theos Evgeniou, professor of decision sciences at the business school INSEAD, said: “Managers will need to learn new tools to analyze and visualize information, and also to develop their ability to better communicate with data scientists.”
Scores of top schools have launched specialist master’s degrees in business data, including USC Marshall, Melbourne and McCombs business schools. Others have fused analytics with their flagship, full-time MBA and other programs, including Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Yale and HEC Paris.
Edinburgh’s partnership will give students and scholars the latest insight to analyze consumer behaviour, and retail and marketing trends. It will also see the creation of a new full-time academic role devoted to pushing big data, and give Edinburgh access to cutting-edge software.
In addition, a number of Dixons Carphone scholarships will be offered to promising applicants to MSc and MBA programs.