Academic sector embracing BI, data analytics

IT departments have always taken an interest in business intelligence's (BI's) capabilities, but in recent months, that intrigue has extended to all types of professionals. 

Executives, for instance, like that these tools provide them with a snapshot of all phases of the enterprise, and salespeople and marketers want to take advantage of BI's ability to provide unprecedented insight into customer behavior. This interest is largely responsible for the 9 percent growth rate the BI and analytics software market is projected to achieve through 2015, according to a recent Technology Business Research study.

Lately, however, another industry has started embracing data analytics: the academic sector

"We want the kind of data sets that exist in companies, so we can give students some practical, real-world experience," Xavier University associate professor Thalini Ariyachandra recently told InformationWeek. 

Teradata University Network recently conducted a poll on BI use in the academic sector, interviewing a mixture of professors and students across 43 countries. Currently, the biggest obstacle to educating students about the technology is difficulty accessing large datasets, cited by 45 percent of respondents. 

With interest in the technology rising, it's a safe bet that universities will be among the group of BI and data analytics software adopters over the next few years. 

Filling a jobs shortage
Colleges across the country and globe appear to be taking notice of the potential influx in job opportunities that data analytics will provide, but are students? The No. 2 challenge facing learning institutions is a lack of students who are qualified to take advanced analytics courses, according to the survey. 

"More academics are providing depth in the kind of statistics and advanced predictive analytics type of skills being offered in courses," Ariyachandra told the news source. "There are more programs in place than two years ago, and there's definitely a lot going on, with academia trying to meet demand for [data scientists]."

Multiple studies have found that there will be a supreme lack of qualified data analytics professionals over the next decade, with some reports estimating that the shortage will leave two-thirds of these positions unfilled. Yet at the moment, only 16 percent of the 614 students who were polled said they are interested in pursuing a career as a data scientist.

On the bright side, almost everyone recognizes that there will be jobs in this field, and many students are interested in analytics as it relates to other fields. The study revealed that business intelligence is being taught in some finance, marketing and accounting courses, according to Information Management. 

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