If I only knew then, what I know now!
I was out running errands in Chicago and happened to drive near the campus of DePaul University. It was move-in day for all of the new and returning students.
I have to admit, I was a little jealous. College was spectacular – I would love to go back and do it all over again. My friends and I often discuss what we might have done differently in college. Not so much lamenting on past mistakes or regrets, but what recommendations and advice we would give our former selves (e.g., study more, take certain courses over others, date or not date certain girls, attend a school in a warm weather climate).
So, knowing what you know now, would you advise your former self (or today’s incoming freshmen) to get more involved with business analytics?
After all, there is a serious supply issue of professionals with analytics skills. In the U.S. alone, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, there is an estimated shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the expertise to use analysis to make effective decisions.
To help bridge this gap, Michigan State University (MSU) announced a new master’s degree program in business analytics to help prepare students for jobs of the future. And, don’t look now, but that “big man on campus” – IBM Watson – will also be roaming the hallways of East Lansing, Mich. in the first-ever IBM Watson case study curriculum.
For instance, undergraduate students taking courses in Managing Human Resources and Organizational Behavior or Marketing can gain an understanding of how technology like cognitive systems can be put to work in data-intensive industries, such as health care, financial services, telecommunications and retail.
IBM has recently begun hosting Watson case competitions and established project-focused classes with other universities. IBM also completed the first-ever Watson internship program during which students explored new ways the Watson system could be applied to various problems.
This collaboration between IBM and MSU is part of an ongoing effort through the IBM Academic Initiative to expand and strengthen student skills and understanding in big data and smarter analytics, along with helping create experiential projects where students can apply analytics to real-world business problems. All of this will give graduates a distinct competitive advantage in the job market and help launch successful careers in analytics and cognitive computing.
Back to my former self – that bright-eyed, cocky and naive freshman…
Admittedly, I was not strong in math, so telling my former self to focus on analytics might be counter-productive.
However, with analytics tightly woven into all aspects of today’s business decision making, leveraging this unique skill is the perfect way to bridge business and technical skills. And, as the software sold today is now easier to use and consume, I might have had a fighting chance to go into an entirely new profession.
Heck, it’s never too late to learn a new skill.
Maybe I could even get into DePaul, which also recently partnered with IBM to create a new Center for Predictive Analytics and Data Mining?
And really do it all over again…