For all the advances in predictive analytics lately, it won't amount to much if businesses don't have enough people with the necessary expertise to gain value from it.
IBM announced today that it is working with DePaul University to create a Center for Data Mining and Predictive Analytics. IBM is involved in a number of academic initiatives related to business intelligence and has invested $10 billion in BI. But this is its first academic partnership specifically tied to a master's degree program in predictive analytics.
The impact that predictive analytics could have on business, says Deepak Advani, IBM vice president for predictive analytics, could be profound as business look for more reliable sources of information, especially in the wake of the latest economic downturn. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor says that demand for people with expertise in statistics will increase 20 percent through 2018.
The DePaul alliance follows on the heels of IBM's acquisition announced earlier this week of Coremetrics, which provides tools for analyzing Web traffic. That will provide another data source for its predictive analytics applications.
Obviously, a business can get trapped by relying too much on predictive analytics that rely on historical trends. But for the most part, most businesses are suffering from an absence of information, and what data they have is often of questionable value.
So it may take a while to train the next generation of predictive analysts, but hopefully by then we'll know what to do with all the information once we finally get it right.