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Big Data to Revamp Business Studies in India

Written by: Dr. Sarika H Lidoria, Director - ITM University

"Information is the oil of the 21st century and analytics is the combustion engine." These words by Peter Sondergaard of the Gartner Group exemplify the paradigm shift in business which now hails data to be its most valuable asset.

Today, organizations have a deluge of data at their disposal with digital footprints being created every moment. This treasure trove of data and its analysis is becoming a new frontier of competitive differentiation. It has led to the evolution of Big Data, which is taking giant strides in business analysis, bestowing organizations with the caliber to revitalize their businesses with innovations. Big data has proved to be a perpetual mine always there to be dug deep. Thus, organizations have embraced technology to harness this humungous data with the aim of transforming it into information and valuable insights. Big data analytics has therefore captured the imagination of the business world as it enables astute cognizance, decision-making, and strategic moves.

In today's business scenario, big data is the fulcrum of all the mega-trends that are picking up steam across various sectors. This has made organizations adopt big data and cloud computing as vital strategic levers in their overall functioning. It has transformed the approach of business firms providing them with the leverage to push the envelope in terms of innovation along with the spin-offs of cost savings, profound decision-making, and customized product development.

As has been rightly quoted by renowned author Stephen Few, "Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a voice." This epitomizes the notion that though our coffers are awash with data, its management, analysis, and application is of paramount importance to garner the required benefits. Thus, big data does not rely only on sophisticated technology but also on human intellect to be effective for any organization. This gives rise to an unprecedented opportunity for proficient and skilled personnel specializing in big data analysis. Organizations across multifarious sectors ranging from retail and supply chain, to manufacturing and maintenance, health-care and education, banking and insurance, to media and tourism have lapped up the big data phenomenon.

Big data has become an important cog in the field of digital marketing. The analysis of information provides decisive insights in consumer behavior and preferences. This helps in better segmentation, brand-building, and providing customized products and services. The education sector, especially management studies, provides a massive scope for big data to facilitate learning analytics.

With online education augmenting its presence across the globe, vast amount of data is available online, which can be monitored to provide personalized learning. This helps to study the learning patterns and preferences of individual students thereby providing tailor-made courses to cater to different needs. Business schools can themselves harness the prowess of data analytics to facilitate better student acquisition and retention thereby augmenting their student base. Also, the progress and competencies of every student can be analyzed to provide solutions for enhancing their learning experience and academic performance.

Big Data to Revamp Business Studies in India

The retail and e-commerce firms are leveraging the big data technology in a big way to explore the market trends and accordingly provide a personalized shopping experience to customers. In the manufacturing field real time data is accessed and analyzed to detect defects and find the solutions to increase efficiency. Additionally, there have been drastic improvements in the health-care sector where past medical records are analyzed and studied to enable better diagnosis and treatment.

Big data analysis has also infused renewed vigor in the financial sector playing an instrumental role in fraud detection and risk management. It has provided a short in the arm for the governments and legislative bodies which are dealing with colossal amount of data for efficient policy implementation. In the same vein, big data analysis has been transforming a bevy of business sectors in the private and public domain. Although big data has become the cynosure of all eyes, it has its own share of pitfalls that can undermine its potential.

As the quantum of data that is processed is immense there are possibilities of issues being faced in accessing relevant and critical data. Also, the data available may be unreliable or biased due to faulty data collection practices which can adversely impact the outcomes. Thus, organizations need to implement various measures to avoid these shortcomings to ensure they extract the maximum benefits from big data analytics.

With the rising clout of big data in business, the demand for professionals in this field is bound to increase by leaps and bounds. This has opened up new avenues for business schools to incorporate data science and analytics as a vital ingredient of management studies. With courses and curriculum designed taking into consideration the requirement of the industry, students are well-versed to pursue their career in the field of big data.

Various institutions are collaborating with behemoths like Amazon and Salesforce who have pioneered the big data and cloud computing initiatives. This provides the students an industry-driven learning approach, along with being exposed to the latest technology. Institutes are required to provide a comprehensive learning experience by facilitating internships for students in organizations excelling in the field of data analysis.

Also, having on board a team of experienced data analysts and entrepreneurs as faculty can go a long way in nurturing and training the students for their roles in the future. This requires the students to acquire the knowledge and skills in technologies like Hadoop, SAS, NoSQL, SPSS, etc., as well as in areas of business intelligence, cloud computing and data mining. It is important that business studies are embedded with the requisite blend of technical and management lessons which enables students to glean an overall perspective in the field of big data.

As the relevance of data analysis is escalating in every sector the demand for experts in these fields is expected to increase exponentially. The roles of Data Scientists, Database Technology Engineers, Data Analysts, Big Data Developers and Consultants, Business Analytics Specialists and the likes have become the most sought-after and lucrative jobs in the market. Thus, the demand for MBA courses in the specialization of big data and cloud computing is bound to go through the roof.

As per the forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the big data technology and services market worldwide is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.1% over the period of 2014-2019 with the annual expenditure reaching $48.6 billion in 2019. With respect to India, the big data technology and services market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.3% over the period of 2012-2017. Also, a report by McKinsey & Company states that the United States alone shall face a shortage of 1,40,000 to 1,90,000 people possessing deep analytical skills by 2018.

These figures encapsulate the glaring opportunities waiting to be seized by potential big data professionals with industry behemoths scurrying towards business schools to assimilate the top-notch talent into their fold.

The momentum created by the big data movement across the globe has opened new horizons for business schools. The potential in countries like India is vast, where business schools can contribute by injecting fresh blood into the stream of big data analysis through their well-designed courses and skill-based training.

The collaboration between business schools and industry players can prove to be the catalyst to create a hotbed of big data specialists, proficient to grasp the nettle and provide the desired outcomes. It is the opportune time for educational institutes to rise to the occasion and revamp business studies to capitalize on the growth of big data and churn out data specialists who shall don the role of new-age alchemists, transforming raw data into insightful knowledge.

This can ultimately help to propel the economy with full throttle and transform India's image from being the "World's Back Office" to becoming the "World's Knowledge Center".

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