Lacuna of Managers with Big Data Knowhow Inspires Online MBA |

Lacuna of Managers with Big Data Knowhow Inspires Online MBA

By Karen Turtle

Updated January 17, 2022 Updated January 17, 2022

This article is sponsored by Nottingham Trent University. Learn more about its online MBA

Big data and analytics are rapidly becoming the lifeblood of modern business, making this market a lucrative area for MBAs. International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that revenues for big data and business analytics will be worth more than US$203 billion in 2020, up from US$130 billion in 2016.

As it stands, there are far more jobs in the industry than there is talent to fill them. Data analysts are needed to make sense of the volumes of incoming stats and numbers, an exercise that can help define an organization's success. However, there is also an increasingly real need for senior professionals with the specialized knowhow to manage from the top.

Recognizing the call for more managers with business analytics expertise, schools such as the UK's Nottingham Trent University are stepping in to develop academic programs that help qualify more people to work in this burgeoning market. From AACSB-accredited Nottingham Business School, the online MBA in data analytics is one of the university's newest offerings. Indeed, an online MBA from an accredited business school, with a specialization in data analysis, is still as rare as it is valuable.

At Nottingham Trent University, the online MBA with Data Analytics will first focus on the fundamentals of business management, through its core curriculum, before teaching four specialized data analytics modules in the final part of the course, during which students also complete a dissertation related to their specialization. The online MBA is characterized by its experiential learning style, with an emphasis on business simulations and case study projects. Students can earn the qualification in three years and are able to conduct all study remotely. 

Business analytics - defining it and where it's applied

Business analytics encompasses the skills, applications, technologies and processes that are used to analyze data and statistics. The puzzling together of the results provided by data gives organizations insight into their performance, enabling them to make clearer forecasts, and smarter business decisions.

Social media data, browser logs and data mining are all examples of the tools and processes used to understand customers and to track both their behaviors and preferences. Facebook is the perfect illustration of how advertising can be honed through the use of algorithms to monitor and record users' 'likes' and 'shares'. As an example, data provided through loyalty cards and online shopping helps large supermarkets to build consumer profiles. In addition, this data could be used to create predictive models that determine whether they send you the latest deals in diapers, or free-range, corn-fed chicken. Even political parties use big data analytics to help them target and even swing states during an electoral campaign.

Of course, data analytics is not only utilized to follow and gauge customer behaviors, but may also help businesses understand and optimize their own operations. For example, geographic positioning can help a delivery company identify the best routes for its drivers. Healthcare services utilize big data analytics to better understand and predict disease patterns. Financial traders use big data algorithms to scan markets, and search for trading opportunities - computers autonomously making buying and selling decisions in split seconds. We, as individuals, might even wish to use data to improve our own physical performance, by using a smart watch or bracelet.

The point is that data is everywhere, and it’s only going to become more ubiquitous. The more you delve into the field, the more you understand the magnitude of its potential. With smart phones, smart TVs, wireless printers and smart home appliances, data is being used to capture every aspect of our lives. Data analytics is therefore essential for the derivation of this raw information, and an insight of data analysis methods, combined with the business acumen to interpret and act accordingly, is a very powerful, and desirable combination of skills that can help fulfil the maximum potential of any organization.

Why MBAs need to know the science behind decision making

"In a global environment defined by constant disruption, business leaders need to be confident in their decisions. And that means being confident in their data, their algorithms and their analytics capabilities," reads a line on KPMG’s website. In fact, a KPMG survey found that 36% of the executives it surveyed in 2015 admitted that they lacked big data specialists. Global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company has also estimated that 1.5 million more managers and analysts will be needed by 2018.

In light of stats such as these it seems clear that, while a general MBA program teaches and ingrains the fundamental skills required for management, a specialization in data analytics has the potential to open many doors for an MBA graduate. Indeed, knowing how to use and analyze data and being able to work with this information to pragmatically devise solutions that take a company forward is now a very valuable attribute and a possible point of differentiation from other applicants to executive-level roles.

Employers are most certainly waiting to recruit graduates with the requisite data analytics knowhow. “Employer demand for recent business school graduates, notably those skilled in data analytics, continues to increase as companies expect these new workers to use data to drive business decisions,” said Sangeet Chowfla, chief executive officer at GMAC, in 2015. A more recent statistic, from GMAC’s 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey was the revelation that 83% of technology firms expressed their plans to hire business school graduates to data analytics roles.

Nottingham Trent University’s online MBA means real flexibility 

Nottingham Trent University reiterates the point made earlier on its website; that leaders in middle and senior management with data analytics knowhow have, without question, a critical edge over managers without the expertise. As a busy professional, or as someone who already has significant commitments, being able to pursue an online MBA that will not only offer a repertoire of new knowledge and an expanded skillset, but also a qualification that is internationally accredited, is undoubtedly invaluable.

This article is sponsored by Nottingham Trent University (NTU)

This article was originally published in June 2017 . It was last updated in January 2022

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Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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