February 10, 2011, 2:05 PM — I recently spoke to a professor in the information systems department of the University of Georgia business school. We were talking about the explosive growth in analytics and the need for more investment in analytics education for future business professionals. He proudly spoke about the coverage of analytics, data design and management and allied technology topics in the curriculum for the IT specialization at the business school. Then I asked him about the coverage of analytics in other business school departments, aimed at students aspiring to be finance, marketing, or supply chain professionals. Why couldn't a module on applying analytics to decisions typical of a business function be inserted into each of these business classes? He agreed this would be valuable, but admitted that his school hadn't reached that point yet or even recognized this as an objective.
My point was that he was focused on training the IT professionals, and these skills were surely needed. But for every IT professional who builds an analytical model, there are many business professionals who could use the information and analysis to make higher quality decisions. IDC's study on pervasive business intelligence identified five factors as most impactful in driving analytics-based decision-making (what IDC calls an “analytical orientation”) throughout an organization. The first factor cited is training. (See "Analytical Orientation and Competitiveness: The Difference Between Fact Finders and Fumblers", IDC #223408, May 2010.) http://www.idc.com/research/viewdocsynopsis.jsp?containerId=223408§ionId=null&elementId=null&pageType=SYNOPSIS
But what type of training makes a difference? And who should be trained?
We've already seen the value of BI Competency Centers in many organizations. These bring together business and IT professionals who have gained experience on specific analytics projects and provide a shared service to other groups in the organization who are new to analytics. I've seen these centers be successful in companies in across industries from aerospace (Boeing) to consumer packaged goods (Procter and Gamble) to pharmaceuticals (Pfizer). But why not bring education into the practical use of analytics into business schools?