Monday, May 16, 2011

There's a great future in analytics

McKinsey Global Institute has released a new study "Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity" that claims the surge of data we are generating from the internet and electronic forms of commerce will open a huge wave of innovation.  (For a good summary, see this NYT account; a link to the study itself can be found here.)  McKinsey defines "big data" as "data sets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze."  The study argues that increased transparency, opportunities for experimentation, enhanced ability to optimize products and services for sub-populations, development of artificial intelligence, and new business models will lead to enhanced productivity and increased consumer surplus. 

The only hitch, the study argues, is a potential shortage of talent.  By 2018 McKinsey anticipates a shortage of 140k to 190k workers in mathematically intensive occupations on top of a shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts "who can ask the right questions and consume the results of the analysis of big data effectively."  My advice to Jenkins MBAs: give the stat course MBA 504 your best shot. 

Aside: The title of today's post is adapted from the famous "plastics" scene in "The Graduate."

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