Tech giants and colleges join forces to make execs masters of the big data universe

15 Mar 2013

If data is going to be the oil of the 21st century, business leaders will need an edge when it comes to capitalising on opportunities in big data. Tech giants EMC and SAS have joined forces with the Irish Management Institute (IMI) and University College Cork (UCC) to create a new master’s degree in data business and a diploma in data business.

The move coincides with news that the Irish Government is making an initial €1m investment in a new Dublin technology centre in data analytics called CeADAR, the Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research, to leverage the high-growth area that is data analytics and the potential to create jobs.

The courses cover the increasing role that the combination of technology, data, services, economics, innovation, business models, analytics and strategic data management play in the success of an organisation.

The EMC-sponsored IDC Digital Universe study, Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows and Biggest Growth in the Far East, predicts that by 2020, the number of servers will grow 10 times, and information managed by enterprise data centres will grow 14 times, yet the number of IT professionals will grow by a factor of less than 1.5, creating a technology skills gap.

The master’s degree in data business programme will help close this gap by educating business and IT leaders on the different ways to leverage big data and advanced analytics to generate new insights that can drive growth.

Speed of growth of big data and analytics sector

The new qualifications were announced this morning by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD.

“A key part of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is our ambition to make Ireland a leading country for big data – a sector that is growing at up to 40pc per annum. Ireland is well placed to take advantage of this phenomenal growth, and we are implementing a range of measures, including the establishment of an industry-led technology centre, to realise this ambition,” Bruton said.

“Skills are clearly a pivotal part of this, and the establishment of this MSc programme, in partnership with industry, is a major development. I look forward to continuing to work with industry to develop this crucial sector, and help create the jobs we need.”

Prof Ciarán Murphy, head of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Information Systems at UCC, said the next wave of data-intensive business models will include a major focus on better understanding the drivers for targeting consumers and businesses.

“This programme has been designed to attract both technical and non-technical business functions, leading to the success of data-focused business initiatives,” Murphy explained.

Donagh Buckley, chief technology officer of EMC’s Centre of Excellence in Cork, and guest lecturer for the data business programme, said data is the raw material for our information society, and big data analytics will help to underpin growth in every sector of the global economy.

“The master’s and diploma in data business will be critical in the development of the next generation of business leaders, whose leadership will be vital in driving a culture of change in how information is seen, managed and exploited in Irish enterprise.”

Data business strategies

Dr Simon Boucher, chief operating officer, Irish Management Institute (IMI), said the new programme will bring together technical and non-technical managers to jointly analyse data business strategies and map new ways of doing business.

“The Government has clearly recognised the employment potential of big data in Ireland. We now need to advance the links between enterprise and academia to support the skills needed in our economy around data analytics.”

Big data analytics is a key ingredient in the strategic make-up of leading companies looking for a competitive edge, said John Farrelly, head of SAS Ireland.

“SAS believes the master’s in data business is important for business leaders of today and the future who are looking to get the most from the data they hold by building new business models and strategies to leverage data and analysis of that data.”

Sea of big data image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years