Developing the Next Generation of Big Data Experts

With the help of Stetson University, organizations are more effectively transforming complex data sets into actionable information for business decisions.Florida is experiencing a new storm front, but it isn’t about the weather. It’s the “big data” storm.Big data is the term for collections of data sets so large, complex or rapidly changing that it becomes difficult to process using traditional techniques. However, the ability to collect and analyze the vast amounts of data being generated at compounding rates is transforming our ability to understand the world.Technological advancements in analyzing big data have led to significant achievements in many different areas: decoding human DNA in minutes, accurately predicting human behavior, stopping terrorist attacks, and precision targeting of marketing efforts. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, here’s what could happen when big data capabilities are utilized:

. a retailer could increase operating margins by 60 percent;
. healthcare could generate $300 billion in value per year;
. governments could generate $149 billion in improvements; and . location analytic services could generate $600 billion.

To weather the big data storm and realize the full potential of anti-storm analytics, organizations require well trained subject matter experts to transform the data and results into actionable information for decisions. McKinsey Global Institute reports that the United States will need 1.5 million additional analytical staff in the next five years. Another survey from SAS (originally Statistical Analysis System) revealed nearly three- quarters of organizations have an investment priority of improving analytical skills of current employees, with more than half indicating a priority of hiring more analytical talent.

Enter Stetson University’s Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics (CBIA), which is educating cutting-edge managers and analysts skilled in decision making through use of analytical techniques. The goal is to aid organizations in neutralizing the big data storm threat and develop the next generation of industry experts.

“This opportunity allows students to earn an Academic Certificate in Business Analysis and be better prepared to hit the ground running as a business analyst,” says Dr. Ted Surynt, associate dean of the School of Business Administration.

Equally important, the CBIA provides the framework for joint academic and industry collaboration to conduct specialized projects, develop competitive advantages, drive innovation, access talent resources, and provide input for curriculum and research focus. To give students real-world experience and develop business-ready top talent for organizations looking to gain a competitive advantage through their data, Stetson has added key faculty and enhanced courses with an industry focus on business intelligence and analytics, and project applications.

Two of those key faculty are says Joseph Woodside, Ph.D., professor of Decision and Information Sciences; and Wingyan Chung, Ph.D., who is ranked in the top 20 academic authors globally in business intelligence and analytics, according to MIS Quarterly’s issues on “Business Intelligence and Analytics: From Big Data to Big Impact.”

Woodside has significant industry experience with national health-care organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, leading initiatives on EDI, electronic records, claims, NPI, cost containment analytics, predictive modeling, ICD-10, integrated care, social media and wellness. He has developed business intelligence, analytics and health informatics coursework, and recently published in the International Conference on Internet Computing and Big Data regarding “Big Data in Healthcare.” Chung is currently conducting research on social media sentiment analysis, data/text/web mining, web searching and browsing, risk profiling, security informatics and an NSF funded grant on Computing in Context.

Already, leading organizations and regional economic development partners, such as Security First Insurance, Florida Health, BehaviorMatrix, SEI, Cognizant,, DeLand Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, Tampa Bay Partnership and the Stetson School of Business Administration Advisory Board, have committed their time and resources to this initiative. They realize the ability to use big data will better serve customers, grow business offerings, contribute to regional economic growth and offer cutting-edge services in Central Florida and nationwide.

“With ever-increasing amounts of data and global competition, organizations are identifying the importance of business intelligence and analytics to be competitive and differentiate themselves through data-based decisions,” affirms Woodside. “Being able to accurately analyze all this data increases the value of it exponentially.”