Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

IBM has unveiled an array of new skill-building initiatives to help information technology professionals, professors and students get the technical skills they need to succeed. These new resources are designed to help reduce the critical technology skills gap outlined in IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends Report. In his comments below, Professor of Performance Management and Director of the IBM Centre for Business Analytics and Performance Gregory Richards suggests that the key to analytics education is to focus on learners’ practical requirements.


Today, analytics education is found throughout a typical university or college curriculum.  Poets and musicians learn to analyze syntax and rhythm, historians learn to analyze text while looking for core themes, and analysis forms the foundation of pure sciences (physics and chemistry for example). Analytics education is all around us, and it has a common base – using data to make good decisions.

YouTube Preview Image

Yet, when I look at the results of IBM’s new Tech Trends report, there is an apparent gap between our education system and industry needs. According to the research, only one in 10 organizations report that they have the skilled employees they need to benefit from advanced technology. To make matters worse, the lack of skilled people is now impeding adoption. According to the same report, businesses cite a lack of analytics skills as the top barrier to use of the technology.

How can analytics be so pervasive in the classroom, but in such short supply in industry? What can we do to produce enough graduates with market-ready skills in this area? In part, I believe the answer lies in our ability to make the learner our filter for designing learning programs for business analytics.

To address this challenge, we take an integrative analytics approach in our MBA and EMBA course at the Telfer School of Management. The rationale is that learning programs are typically designed based on three factors: the context, the subject matter to be learned, and the learners themselves. Today, managers have a lot more information available than ever before. But we have to ask: How much of that streaming social media data is really critical to decisions we make on a day-to-day basis in our organization? Establishing data relevance is imperative.

The vast territory covered by statistics, operations research, information sciences and mathematics has been expanded even further with new tools related to social media analytics. The field of study is massive. All the more reason why the learner has to be our filter for designing learning programs for Business Analytics. Managers don’t need to become statisticians; statisticians might not want to become managers. Therefore, when we talk about business analytics education, we open up the enormous subject matter area and ask what our students will do with their new knowledge.

For our business programs at Telfer, we concluded that managers need to understand about data (data types, levels of measurement, etc.), the use of business models to define core measures, and basic cause-effect modeling to allow them to manipulate data to better understand what is happening in their organizations. Managers also need to understand the “art of the possible” by being exposed to – although not necessarily becoming experts in – more sophisticated techniques such as regression modeling, data mining and structural equation modeling. These topics are covered in a number of courses across our MBA and EMBA curricula. Specific courses geared towards Business Analytics integrate the various analytics competencies and introduce the use of technologies such as Business Intelligence, Big Data, and social media analytics.

In other words, analytics programs should cater to the needs of learners. What people should learn about analytics depends entirely on what we expect them to do with the knowledge, but it is important to understand that business analytics applies to all organizations – including government, private businesses, and healthcare.

Continued partnerships with industry should help accelerate the design of thoughtful programs like these that cater to the needs of learners and produce graduates with the right market-ready skills to immediately benefit their new employers.

Gregory Richards, MA, MBA, Ph.D., FCMC, is currently Professor of Performance Management at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management where he teaches courses on Managing Organizational Performance and Business Analytics. He is Director of the IBM Centre for Business Analytics and Performance and conducts research into the use of Business Intelligence and analytics in public sector and health care organizations.

Related Resources:

DOWNLOAD: The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report


IBM Skill-Building Initiative

To Make the Most of Today’s Technologies, We Need to Fill a Yawning Skills Gap

Educators and Employers: Working Together to Meet IT Skill Needs

U.S. Competitiveness: Addressing the Skills Crisis

Technorati Tags: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Previous post

Next post

December 6, 2012
12:19 AM

Dear Jim

I am very happy to see your video, i have same thought and totally support the cause,there is lot of opportunity and potential in this area and with joint collaboration with different origination this gap can be minimized, looking forward to talk more and it will be great to meet you face to face.

Best Regards

Posted by: Amaresh Tripathi
April 29, 2014
4:58 AM

Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read
more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

Posted by: Black Summit Undercounter Freezer
May 12, 2014
1:46 AM

Nice weblog here! Also your site quite a bit up very fast!
What host are you the usage of? Can I get your affiliate link on your host?
I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

Posted by: Marcy
May 14, 2014
12:55 AM

Thank you for every other informative site.
The place else could I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal means?

I’ve a challenge that I’m simply now running on, and I’ve been on the look
out for such info.

Posted by: 5 gallon buckets for sale
May 14, 2014
12:56 AM

Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe that this
amazing site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to
see more, thanks for the info!

Posted by:
May 14, 2014
1:40 AM

Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful &
it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

Posted by: lg lfx25991st 24.6 counter depth French door refrigerator
May 14, 2014
1:43 AM

excellent issues altogether, you just received a brand new reader.
What could you recommend about your publish that you made a few days in the past?
Any sure?

Posted by: rfg237aars review
June 8, 2014
5:26 AM

Thanks for a marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed
reading it, you are a great author. I will always bookmark your blog and
definitely will come back down the road. I want to encourage one to continue your
great writing, have a nice day!

Posted by: Titus diffusers
September 19, 2014
2:02 PM

And the non-prescription medication Abreva.

Posted by: Pearl
3 Trackbacks
December 14, 2012
10:49 AM

[...] may be huge, but it’s not unsolvable. We all have to pull together—businesses, policy makers, universities and students—so we can fill it and take full advantage of this great wave of technological [...]

Posted by: To Make the Most of Today’s Tech, We Need to Fill a Yawning Skills Gap « A Smarter Planet Blog
March 27, 2013
3:12 PM

[...] Analytics Education Must Center on Learners [...]

Posted by: Sparking a Revival in Engineering and Science Education | Citizen IBM Blog
April 3, 2013
8:59 AM

[...] is traversing a variety of new frontiers and offering challenges to the brightest minds. Using “Big Data” and analytics to find cures for infectious diseases, develop innovative solutions to traffic congestion, and [...]

Posted by: Sparking a Revival in Engineering and Science Education « A Smarter Planet Blog
Post a Comment