IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently announced it is partnering with 28 new business schools and universities to help prepare students for the 4.4 million jobs that will be created worldwide to support Big Data by 2015. The Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is among the schools.

Working hand in hand with universities and business schools gearing up for the upcoming fall 2014 semester, IBM is helping expand and launch new curricula providing students with business knowledge and IT skills for data-intensive careers.

The Lally School is already offering an M.S. in Business Analytics. Launched in fall 2013, the program provides students and career professionals with the first-hand experience and knowledge required to succeed in analytics jobs spanning a range of industries. This spring, the program added a new Predictive Analytics With Social Media course, which refers to a host of approaches aimed at using historical data for future predictions.

“Rensselaer is well positioned to provide tomorrow’s business leaders with the analytics skills needed to not only succeed, but also make a meaningful impact in the world,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with IBM. Lally School faculty are collaborating with IIBM to provide our students with cutting-edge training on skills that will be vital as they enter the workforce. As a world-class technological research university, we attract graduates with strong technical and quantitative skills. Data will be the lifeblood for businesses throughout the 21st century, and only a trained analytics professional can help unlock its hidden value.”

The explosion of Big Data has rapidly created a global and industry-wide opportunity for job candidates who can uncover insights from data to solve problems and act on findings quickly. Between now and 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average increase in employment opportunities for computer and information research scientists. Yet, a recent IBM CFO study noted that even though 82 percent of those surveyed see the value of integrating enterprise-wide data, only 24 percent think their team is up to the task. Educators and employers must work together to narrow this skills gap.

IBM is helping to ensure the explosive demand for data scientists is met by partnering with Rensselaer and other universities including Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, and Northwestern University to offer Big Data and analytics curricula.

“Taking advantage of the transformational opportunity presented by Big Data and analytics has become a key priority for organizations around the globe,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president, information and analytics group, IBM. “To embrace this growing opportunity, companies today must hire a workforce with a broad range of Big Data and analytics expertise. IBM is dedicated to partnering with academic institutions and providing students with the skills needed to make an impact.”

Unlocking data to make better business decisions has become a crucial part of success across a variety of professions. In fact, 83 percent of business leaders cite Big Data and analytics as an important part of their plan to enhance competitiveness. By partnering with both universities and business schools, IBM is helping develop curricula that mix both business and IT skills. For instance, students can build depth and breadth across multiple disciplines and become more marketable to future employers by applying a minor in analytics to a major in business, marketing, or mathematics.

“Thus far, Lally School students have enjoyed using the IBM software,” said Dorit Nevo, associate professor in the Lally School, who developed the Predictive Analytics with Social Media course. “As part of the course, through first-hand experience with a range of techniques, students are learning to work with large data sets, analyze trends and segments,

and develop models for prediction and forecasting. The course concludes with a module on data visualization to bring the predictive insights to light. As a faculty member, there is very good support for the software and excellent training materials from IBM that Lally School students find very valuable as they develop expertise in working with big data sets that will make them very attractive to employers.”

Working with IBM, in addition to Rensselaer, 27 business schools and universities will join the more than 1,000 institutions that already have access to the latest Big Data and analytics-focused technology innovations, hardware, curricula material, project-focused case studies, guest lecturers, and faculty awards to help accelerate curricula development.

These new university partnerships support IBM’s Academic Initiative, which includes a larger network of more than 30,000 unique partnerships between IBM and higher education professionals to help advance curriculum in areas including Big Data and analytics, cloud computing, security, and social business. IBM also recruits from universities and business schools throughout the U.S. via career fairs and info sessions, leading classroom discussions and participating in student organization events.

IBM has established the world’s deepest portfolio of Big Data and analytics technology that spans research and development, solutions and software. IBM has invested $24 billion to build its capabilities in Big Data and analytics through R&D and more than 30 acquisitions. Today, more than 15,000 analytics consultants, 6,000 industry solution business partners, and 400 IBM mathematicians are helping clients use big data to transform their organizations.

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