If you applied for a job in the last few years, the probability is extremely high that your social media activity was inspected by a hiring manager. Your tweets, posts, comments, and updates together provide insight into who you are as a person and thus, as an employee. But most don’t realize that you can also be tracked from your online purchases, Web browsing history, credit scores, police reports, hospital records, and on and on. Welcome to the age of Big Data.
While this personal info collection may alarm you as a private citizen, it should fascinate you as a businessperson. Right now, companies have access to a mindboggling amount of information about their customers, their suppliers, and their own employees and processes, and though most know there is opportunity to save and make money by using it, many don’t have the first idea where to start. But now that more MBA programs in big data are available, you could be just the person to help them out.
Why Big Data?
Few industries provide such a promising combination of high demand and low supply of dedicated professionals as big data. With a projected 1.9 million jobs being created by IT by 2015, another 4 million will be created outside IT. This number will include people (i.e. big data MBA holders) who can turn the numbers and stats into practical, actionable business insight. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lucrative field — the median base salary is $90,000 currently for non-management workers.
If your plan post-graduation is to become a consultant, as many are choosing to do these days, the door is wide open. Companies need help identifying which of their marketing ideas are working and with whom, and which are failing. They also need to know which of their machines could be tweaked to cut manufacturing costs, which delivery methods are cheapest, and what about their hires makes some excel and others disappoint. Practically every department could benefit from your knowledge in some way, and once you’ve shared it, you can move on to the next company and another batch of eager students.
A Startup-Rich Environment
Of course, as with any MBA, you won’t be limited to consulting or working for someone else. The first wave of entrepreneurs has already begun and startups are constantly popping up with solutions for companies’ big data needs, and strictly big data incubators are following closely behind. For example, one big data startup generating buzz is Data Tamer. Cofounded by MBA and seed investor Andy Palmer, Data Tamer helps organizations take multiple, massive sources of data and integrate them automatically within a single system. For example, it would help a drug company that has 8,000 scientists who have each generated a spreadsheet to record findings curate all this data quickly and at low cost.
xplenty is another young big data company cofounded by an MBA-holder. By taking the well-known data software Hadoop and making it code-free, xplenty hopes to make data processing more accessible to non-professionals. So just as there is virtually no limit to the amount of information a company can dig up, there are countless ways for entrepreneurs to create value in the fertile big data industry.
Where to Get an Online MBA in Big Data
“Big data” is kind of a catch-all phrase; different schools call their programs by different names. For example, Southern New Hampshire University’s offering is an online MBA in quantitative analysis. Drexel University targets big data with the business analytics concentration of its online MBA. At the University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business, the partially online MBA can be specialized with a graduate certificate in data analytics. Whatever name is used, these specializations will be heavy on statistics, spreadsheet modeling, and research.