Analytics Skills Are Highly Desirable in Todays Job Market

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-05-17 Print this article Print


Students in the top two winning teams held concentrations in marketing and business, a sign of the growing need and interest for hands-on expertise in analytics, outside of traditional engineering and computer science programs. As companies look to gain faster and more accurate insight into customer opinion and preferences, the ability for graduates to strengthen skills in analytics is making them highly sought after in today's job market, IBM said.

The Watson case competition supports the university's commitment to incorporating analytics and evidence-based reasoning across all areas of business, ranging from marketing to economics and brand development to entrepreneurship. The initiative is part of IBM€™s ongoing collaboration with educational institutions to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

€œThe case competition provides a new way for students to bring forward game-changing ideas while providing them with the opportunity to hone their skills in important new areas, such as analytics and cognitive computing.€ said Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM Watson Solutions, in a statement. €œOur goal is to inspire the next generation of business leaders to think differently about how technology can be used to transform business and redefine industries."

The case-based approach may help shape how IBM applies the Watson technology to client challenges across a variety of industries in the future. Watson is already being put to work in the health care and financial services industries. In a pilot program at WellPoint, the technology is helping medical professionals make more informed decisions related to patient-treatment options, and Citibank is evaluating new ways the technology can help improve the banking client experience.

Representing a fundamentally different type of technology, Watson is a cognitive system that learns and becomes more accurate over time by applying analytics and evidence-based reasoning to volumes of information. Like the human brain, Watson builds relationships between a variety of data sets and continuously processing and reprocessing information to draw deeper insights for better decision making.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with management analysis skills over the next eight years. The McKinsey Global Institute projects a need for approximately 190,000 more workers with analytics expertise and 1.5 million more data-savvy managers in the United States.

The role and value of data is causing shifts inside organizations and across business cultures driving demand across a broad range of industries in the private and public sectors. These organizations are seeking new ways to tap information in traditional databases and unlock data tucked away in an unstructured format, including videos, comments on social media sites and text messages.

IBM's Watson academic case competition is the latest example of how the company is helping universities prepare students in new areas of computing and business leadership. The University of Rochester and IBM Watson case competition is in keeping with IBM's Academic Initiative, which delivers coursework, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities. IBM worked closely with academic institutions during the development and introduction of Watson. Eight leading universities around the world participated in the development phase of the system, and more than 10,000 students watched Watson triumph on the Jeopardy quiz show in February 2011. 


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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