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T. Ravichandran, Associate Dean for Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Lally School of Management and Technology

T. Ravichandran, Associate Dean for Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Lally School of Management and Technology

By T. Ravichandran

Ask anyone in academia about launching a new graduate program and you’ll quickly learn it is no easy task.

Foremost among the challenges faced is the need to develop a consensus within the campus community. It’s crucial to make the case to the administration, deans, faculty and other stakeholders that the degree you seek to launch is necessary, that there’s a strong demand for the subject matter it teaches, and – most importantly – that the program will empower today‘s students with the skills needed to obtain jobs upon graduation.

This week, I am happy to say that my school, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has developed a strong consensus for a new Master’s level program in Business Analytics that will launch in September 2013.

(Second in a series in support of Big Data Week.)

Why dedicate an entire program to Business Analytics? Here at the Lally School of Management and Technology, we’ve been carefully studying trends that focus on, well, management and technology. Like never before, senior-level managers who make crucial decisions for their businesses are turning to new forms of technology to make smarter decisions. Decisions based on complex data sets range from sensor-driven data that shows quality assurance officers the health of factory machinery, to consumer-generated data that shows marketers how people feel about a particular brand.

SP lally_logo

With that as the backdrop, we noticed that these data-hungry decision makers are bound together by a common challenge. Even with the most cutting-edge tools, their solutions are incomplete until they’ve hired an analytics-trained professional who can drive the technology and uncover hidden value from Big Data.

This is why right now is the perfect time for launching a graduate program dedicated to Business Analytics. As one looks around from industry to industry, it’s crystal clear that these jobs are in high demand. According to job sites Indeed.com, GlassDoor.com  and SimplyHired.com, as of this present date, there are more than 6,000 openings for data scientist jobs. Looking into the not too distant future, market researcher, Gartner, estimates 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

As a world-class technological research university, Rensselaer and the Lally School of Management and Technology are well positioned to provide tomorrow’s business leaders with the analytics skills needed to not only succeed, but make a meaningful impact on the world.
The business analytics graduate program at Rensselaer is a one-year, 30-credit graduate degree program designed for students and career professionals alike. The program will focus on business acumen, hands-on analytics skills, and experiential opportunities to provide the comprehensive foundation students need to succeed in analytics jobs. To help drive our program’s success, IBM is providing Rensselaer with curriculum materials, real-world case study projects, access to a wide spectrum of software solutions, and IBM thought leaders as guest lecturers.

This collaboration between Rensselaer and IBM is the latest in a longstanding relationship.  Earlier this year we announced that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was the first university to receive an IBM Watson system to further cutting edge research, and afford faculty and students opportunities to learn essential Big Data, analytics and cognitive computing skills, while finding new uses for Watson to help deepen the system’s cognitive capabilities.

Together with IBM and the Rensselaer campus community, we look forward to addressing the Big Data challenge and sending top-flight job candidates into the workforce. In meeting the challenge of our university’s motto, “Why Not Change the World?,” we look forward to the promises that this new graduate program will bring in shaping the 21st century. This journey will be a great adventure and one where new growth begins.

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