Study: World's colleges lack BI, analytics concentration

Students aren't ready to handle the world's 'big data' challenges

Relatively few colleges and universities around the world offer dedicated degree programs for BI (business intelligence), despite the rapidly growing popularity of analytics technology among businesses, according to a study announced Monday.

BI courses are being taught in a number of disciplines, such as computer science, statistics and accounting, according to the study by Barbara Wixom, an associate professor of IT at the University of Virginia, and Thilini Ariyachandra, an assistant professor of MIS at Xavier University. Wixom is also co-executive director of Teradata University Network, an educational portal sponsored by the vendor.

The fragmented nature of BI course work means that students aren't necessarily getting a well-rounded understanding of BI from both a business and technical perspective, the authors found.

Undergraduate BI degrees are offered at three of the 129 schools surveyed: Augusta State University, St. Joseph's University and Stuttgart Media University.

Twelve in the sample have a graduate-level BI program, including Augusta State University, the University of Denver, Stuttgart Media University, Sofia University, North Carolina State University, Singapore Management University, Xavier University and the University of Muenster.

The survey garnered answers from 339 students at 62 schools.

Some 150 students said they were taking a BI course because they were majoring in a program where it was required, compared to 90 who said they planned to make a career out of BI.

Other responses suggest that schools are having a hard time giving students practical, hands-on training versus textbook lessons. "More/better real-world software" and "more/better real-world data sets" were the top two areas student respondents cited as areas for improvement in their education.

The study was sponsored by the Business Intelligence Congress II, an event for BI educators and professionals.

Its conclusions emerge following a report released last month by McKinsey Global Institute, which estimated that the United States alone needs up to 190,000 additional people with "deep analytical skills" as well as another 1.5 million "managers and analysts to analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings."

Another expert also sees the BI job market as red-hot.

"All major corporations are hiring BI talent," said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson via e-mail. "All large BI vendors and service providers are struggling with finding and retaining BI talent. I hear of horror stories about competitors stealing BI talent from each other by offering 50 percent salary increases."

For any student interested in a career in BI, "a basic, intuitive understanding of statistical significance" is most important, said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "If you're looking at an apparent trend, is it real or just random variation? Also crucial are general analytic and quantitative problem-solving skills."

"The more analytically oriented should add basic programming skills, and basic knowledge of SQL," he added. "While SQL's utter dominance is ebbing a bit, it still will be with us for a very long time."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags business intelligencesoftwareapplicationsTeradata

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?