There's not much point to investing in analytics software if there are not enough people around with the skills to use them.
That's a fundamental issue that IBM is trying to address via a new initiative with Fordham University to develop a Center for Digital Transformation, which is intended to aid industry and academic experts looking to conduct research and develop a business analytics curriculum. Fordham is also introducing a Master of Science in Business Analytics and a Master of Science in Marketing Intelligence in which IBM intends to participate.
In many ways, the shortage of analytics expertise in the world today is the weakest link in IBM's Smarter Planet initiative. According to Kevin Faughnan, director of IBM academic initiatives, it's pretty clear at this point that just about everything related to business or government is soon going to be interconnected and instrumented.
This trend will create massive amounts of Big Data that all needs to be analyzed in order to extract real value out of that information. The problem right now is that people with the skills to do that are in real short supply.
Faughnan says IBM is trying to reduce that shortage by working with multiple universities to create programs that combine IT and business skills under a single degree program. There's a real sense of urgency among business professionals when it comes to analytics, adds Faughnan, because of all the recent economic firestorms. But until universities start turning out more people with the right combination of skills, chances are, businesses are not going to see the business value of investing in advanced analytics software that only a small number of people are currently trained to use.