Predictive Analytics – Master’s Degree

on June 18, 2010
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A while ago, I wrote a post on how I thought that academic investment in Decision Management is lacking and is needed.

The essence of the post in question was to highlight the fact that the Decision Management industry is at this point running in front of academia. In order for the industry to grow, it will need to find ways to increase its visibility to the younger generations and introduce the concepts to students who will then come to the workforce with an understanding of its role and the value it brings to the ecosystem.

Attempts have been made by many, and some companies have been quite successful at ensuring their presence as the technology of choice for sub-areas of decision management – most typically around statistics and operational research. In the entrepreneurial pre-IPO days with Blaze Software, I participated to a program to try to bring business rules management systems into an MBA curriculum, but that did not last long. It was probably too early, and we were too small.

One key question which still is in my mind is which academic field to target for introduction of a Decision Management. We have seen interest from both the MBA and Marketing (the business suits) groups, and the Computer Science groups. I tend to think that both are good targets: the former are closer to the target audience since they tend to end up in decision making and business ownership positions; but the latter also need to be aware of the approach, and familiar with its technical aspects.

This duality may be part of the challenge. What do you think?

In a related note, DePaul University in Chicago (home of SPSS) is introducing the country’s first Master’s Degree in Predictive Analytics. The fact that the focus is predictive analytics, and not just statistics, or data mining, or BI, is relevant – the focus is no longer around the technologies, but their applicability to business problems. It is a good first step, and hopefully will be followed by others, extending its scope to the rest of the Decision Management approach.

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