Why Studying Data Analytics is the Smartest Move You Could Make in 2018 | Top Universities

Why Studying Data Analytics is the Smartest Move You Could Make in 2018

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Laura Bridgestock

Updated Jan 26, 2022



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Sponsored by EDHEC Business School

The concept of “big data” may have been around for a while, but the last few years have seen a sizeable swell in interest and media attention. Extremely recently, firms such as Cambridge Analytica and the way in which social media companies use the data collected about their users have hit the headlines and raised awareness even further of the enormous impact big data has on our lives every day. We looked into what it’s actually like to work in big data and why students should specialize in the field.

Big data is here to stay, which means career longevity is highly likely

As an industry, big data is growing at a dizzying speed, with nearly 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data produced every day, and the data galaxy doubling every couple of years. So, the ability to make sense of all this data and use it to change the way we live and interact with one another  is set to inevitably become a vital part of business.

With a predicted growth of US$7.3 billion this year, the market size for big data is expected to soar past the US$40 billIon mark over the next few months, which is why a new generation of trained data experts and analysts are needed to lead the way and establish better data governance to win over consumers. You could be one of them.   

You’ll use data in all sorts of amazing ways to change the world

Several business sectors have already demonstrated the potential of what can be achieved through data analytics. Some NGOs, for example, have been using artificial intelligence to fundraise by collecting data on their supporters and using this to predict and target actions and messaging which are most likely to resonate with different types of donors.

In sport, analysts have been a regular feature for several years now, using statistics in their operations both on and off the pitch in order to make better scouting decisions and monitor their players’ health, fitness and nutrition.

Some teams, like FC Bayern Munich, have even been using data to inform their game plan. In 2014, the German national team gained a competitive advantage over other teams by using sports analytics software to research opponents’ performance, including average ball possession, number of ball touches, distance travelled, positioning and speed of passing. Information on the upcoming opposition and bespoke feedback on their own performance was then sent to each player via an app on their smartphone.

In the healthcare sector, hospitals have been collecting reams of health data to improve patient care. In fact, 47 percent of hospitals in the US are already using predictive analytics to cut costs and predict operating room and staffing demands. Some experts even believe that big data will enable hospitals not just to cure disease, but also to prevent it in the future.

Among them, Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, said: “By leveraging big data and scientific advancements while maintaining the important doctor-patient bond, we believe we can create a health system that will go beyond curing disease after the fact to preventing disease before it strikes by focusing on health and wellness”.

There’s a growing skills gap for trained big data experts

If these types of job roles sound intriguing, we’ve got good news. Big data jobs will grow by 4.4 million by 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there’s a widening skills gap in the sector. According to a 2014 survey, 41 percent of businesses cited a lack of skilled candidates as a major challenge to integrating big data into their operations.  

Job prospects are good in the sector, with data analysts earning on average €41,329 (US$51,320) in Germany, £25,511 (US$32,930) in the UK, and CHF88,049 (US$92,838) in Switzerland, according to PayScale.

The range of jobs available with a degree in data analytics is huge

If you pursue a career as a data analyst, the first thing to get straight is that your role isn’t the same as a data engineer or data scientist. These roles work on the technical side of data mining and data storage, whereas data analysts pull relevant bits of information from enormous databases in order to inform decisions in a number of business areas like HR, marketing, customer service and operations.

A degree in data analytics would impart you with important transferable skills, such as project management, critical-thinking and problem-solving, and open up opportunities across industries as data managers, data consultants, consumer and market knowledge managers, chief data officers, big data architects and business and marketing analysts.

Some universities offer outstanding postgraduate courses in big data

The French business school EDHEC for example offers a master’s degree in data analytics and digital business.

The course promises to teach you how to reap the benefits of big data for business and give you a global understanding of the opportunities the technology presents.

Based on EDHEC’s Lille campus, you learn how to manage big data projects and analyse economic and consumer trends through data collection and analysis.

The master’s degree features a mandatory three to six month internship with the company of your choice to help you build a network of contacts and put your new skills into practice.

Find out about careers in data analytics and digital for business here.

This article was originally published on April 18th, 2018. 

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