Education and Analytics in a Big Data World

Big Data

Big Data is one of today’s most talked about buzz words, and AdAge Dataworks recently brought it into the realm of education. How do large companies like IBM and organizations like SOBACO factor into Big Data education?

Last month, AdAge Dataworks started a discussion around corporate influence on education, notably focusing on the relatively new pattern of large companies, such as General Motors, Verizon, Yahoo, and IBM, sharing with graduate and undergraduate students problems the company is facing. These companies not only supply research data that will help the students solve their businesses’ problems, but further provide sponsorship dollars so that a data workforce program can be developed to provide real-world business experience.

Dataworks reported that GM recently collaborated with IBM at Michigan State University to produce analytics for improving the overall consumer experience of purchase, ownership, and upkeep of GM vehicles. Students in MSU’s Analytics MBA program worked alongside both IBM execs and GM’s program manager for the customer-assistance and relationship-service initiative on a consulting project that gave them access to dealer-training programs and service requests.

Not only did this program help these graduate students gain valuable knowledge and extensive hands-on experience, it also allowed them to form relationships with high-level executives, therein making valuable connections they could leverage in the future. Universities like Ohio State, Northwestern University and Kansas State have similarly partnered with IBM to develop Analytics-focused curriculum for their graduate, undergraduate and executive education programs. As an undergraduate student and genuine data enthusiast, this sort of corporate-sponsored research that focuses on digital arenas is critical both for my professional development and the development of my peers.

SOBACO pic

Luckily for us Midwesterners, the University of Minnesota recently joined the Big Data bandwagon, and accordingly, the Carlson School of Management (CSOM) has begun to deepen research and train new analysts. CSOM is now home to a University of Minnesota research center focused on better understanding on how the Big Data Revolution is reshaping consumers, industries, and our society. Further, SOBACO, Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative, aims to position the University of Minnesota as the ‘knowledge frontier’ at the intersection between social media and business/societal problems, where business and academia combine to answer our industry’s most fundamental questions. Critically, much like the MSU graduate students were able to make powerful connections with IBM executives, CSOM students are gaining valuable interactions with numerous SOBACO-affiliated faculty who are actively engaged in a variety of Big Data and digital fields, including digital and social marketing, next-gen business analytics, and privacy and system dynamic research areas.

In the information age, Big Data solutions allow marketers to track the marketplace and adapt to changes in real-time. We now have the ability to test big ideas in a virtual marketplace built by real-world and real-time data, yet despite Big Data’s ready availability, we must understand what we can do with it. Programs like SOBACO give insights on how Big Data can be manipulated, tested and used, and when corporate companies give university students the opportunity to apply these tactics to real life problems, critical experience is gained.

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