DIT unveils new master’s in data analytics

27 Aug 2010

DIT School of Computing has launched a new master’s programme in data analytics, responding to a growing need for skills in being able to interrogate information stored in IT systems to find insights that can improve business decision-making.

This new specialist DIT MSc in Computing (Data Analytics) is said to be the first such programme in Ireland that specifically prepares graduates to become advanced data analysts.

The course has been designed jointly by the DIT Schools of Computing and Mathematical Sciences to meet this need and will start this autumn. The course has places for 15 people and the closing date for applications is Friday 10 September.

“We expect people already working in industry will take this up, that this is something their companies see a new need for. Every organisation has data that they want to get more information out of,” DIT’s head of Computing Dr Deirdre Lillis told Siliconrepublic.com.

This year the course will be for part-time students who may also be working and whose companies subsidise their attendance. Plans for next year include a full-time programme alongside a part-time option.

Data analytics skills can be put to use in many areas including fraud detection, credit risk modelling, forecasting, developing pricing models and even monitoring personal health. A growing number of jobs now call for analytics skills and these roles are highly paid, said Dr Lillis.

The course has the backing of SAS, one of the leading business intelligence software providers, but Dr Lillis said the analytics skills learned on the programme are transferable to BI tools from any vendor. “We give you the theory and the practice that go right across the board,” she said.

A measure of how valuable the analytics market has become is evident in the ongoing struggle between HP and Dell to acquire the Silicon Valley firm 3Par. Industry analysts say the rising tide of data is driving a need for more sophisticated storage and management technologies that can tap into this information and help companies to make better strategic decisions with it.

Dr Lillis believes there is an opportunity for Ireland to establish itself as the analytics capital of Europe. “The foundations are there in terms of skills infrastructures and Gartner has identified analytics in their top five technologies for 2010,” she said.

“We are an English speaking country with a strong ICT sector. The graduates are there. This is about taking good computer science graduates and giving them an extra edge.”

Dr Lillis has researched the higher education management sector globally for her PhD and said that while Norway, Sweden and Finland are good at marrying academic learning with industry needs, many other European countries are trying to reform along the lines of Ireland’s education system. China has also identified elements of the Irish model to be copied, she added.

“In Europe, you get very traditional, theory-intensive computational modelling in master’s courses. Where Ireland has the edge is in the industry focus. Everything we do is geared to being a real-world solution,” she said. “I don’t think we appreciate that model works really well for us.”

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic