The revolution shaking up business education
Big data will rapidly revolutionise the business school curriculum; students and schools will need to adapt quickly to stay ahead, says Julia Tyler
There is increasing demand for MBA and Masters graduates with analytical skills
It is estimated there are more than 2.5 quintillion data bytes of “big data” moving among us every day. Every time we use Facebook, Twitter, Google, the Web, YouTube, a tablet device, a mobile phone, GPS, email, or any digital social media platform to communicate, make purchases, or conduct business, we are maneuvering the virtual tsunami of data bytes washing across the globe.
MBA applications: can you pass the GMAT quiz?
Big data, or the massive amount of large data sets created by the technology that surrounds us, reveal relationships between people, decisions and behaviours, and can enable analysts to make predictions that shape smart products and processes.
It is now driving discussion about the future of business, and impacting corporate strategies at both SMEs and the world’s biggest brands and organisations.
With so much information flowing around us and influencing the future of business, it comes as little surprise that there is increasing demand in both private industry and public policy arenas for MBA and Masters graduates with the analytical and decision-making skills needed to process and act on these multiple
This has real implications for not only the type of courses that business schools are offering – but also for the skills that students (and future job candidates) will need to possess in order to compete in an increasingly tough employment market.
Big data will rapidly revolutionise the business school curriculum; students and schools will need to adapt quickly to stay ahead. Indeed, there is a real sense amongst business school leaders that the answer to the question of precisely how to integrate big data into curricula remains far from clear.
Postgraduate education: the rise of the DBA
In the years to come, increasing numbers of businesses will need to work with and manage big data – to understand their customers, optimise their organisational design, and improve sales.
The view from the business community and corporate recruiters is clear: a focus on big data will enable tomorrow's leaders to make smart decisions, not only to drive corporate growth, but also solve problems in areas as diverse as public policy, medicine, agriculture and engineering.
Accordingly, the hiring market has sent a clear message to business schools: programmes need to integrate a curriculum that develops students’ ability and skills to use data to solve complex problems in order to provide employers with the talent required to compete in a data-driven world.
The 2012 GMAC Corporate Recruiters survey showed that the skill set required of candidates has changed significantly in recent years. According to our poll, 79 per cent of recruiters need candidates to be able to integrate data from multiple sources to make sound judgments; and 71 per cent need candidates to be equipped with the skills to organise data to solve interrelated problems. Students, take note.
MBA students ask 'what does the future hold?'
Business schools have responded to the rapidly changing business environment by including more academic course offerings focused on data analytics and business intelligence, to ensure their graduating students can help meet the looming talent gap.
Meanwhile, we have also developed a focused section of the GMAT exam – Integrated Reasoning – to test students’ analytical skills. This new addition to the GMAT emerged in response to a survey of management faculty worldwide who identified these skills as important for incoming management students.
The big data revolution is an opportunity for the education world.
Business schools able to adapt and evolve their offering to the requirements of corporate recruiters and students, and provide new services, products and courses, will be well placed to boost their graduate employment rates. This will of course have implications for business schools own in-house expertise. Meanwhile, students will need to adapt their mind set and outlook to compete in an evolving job market, where analytics and technical insight are prized.
Either way, the possibilities for educators and students are palpable – and those that invest time and energy into the big data revolution will be best placed to reap the rewards.