IBM Targets ‘Big Data’ Skills With University Partnerships

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

IBM partners with more universities in an effort to ramp up the teaching of ‘big data’ skills

IBM continues its effort to create more big data and analytic expertise after it added nine new academic collaborations to its more than 1,000 partnerships with universities worldwide.

Indeed, Big Blue is doing its part to narrow the big data skills gap by helping to prepare students for the 4.4 million jobs that will be created worldwide to support big data by 2015. The company also announced more than $100,000 (£63,955) in awards for big data curricula.

Big Data Skills

As part of IBM’s Academic Initiative, the company is launching new curricula focusing on big data and analytics with Georgetown University, George Washington University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Missouri, as well as a new addition to IBM’s partnership with Northwestern University. Internationally, IBM is partnering with Dublin City University, Mother Teresa Women’s University in India, the National University of Singapore and the Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education to offer data-driven degree programs, coursework and specialisation tracks.

Signpost "Big Data"“It’s no secret that harnessing the power of big data can provide organisations with a competitive edge, and the tools to obtain these insights are readily available,” Richard Rodts, manager of global academic programs at IBM, said in a statement. “The challenge we must overcome now is narrowing the big data skills gap that exists, which is why IBM is partnering with universities across the globe to provide students with the needed big data and analytics curriculum to make an impact in today’s data-driven marketplace.”

IBM also announced the winners of its 2013 Big Data and Analytics Faculty Awards in which 14 university professors from around the world will receive $10,000 (£6,395) each for top-rated curricula designed to develop the business and technical skills required for data-crunching jobs. The winning proposals include programs focused on computer science/electrical engineering, business administration, economics, strategic management, and math and statistics.

According to IBM, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with data analytics skills over the next eight years. The need for this specialised talent is fuelled by the explosion of big data – or the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information generated daily from such sources as sensors, RFID networks, mobile devices and social media. As a result, employers in every industry are seeking job candidates who can uncover insights from data to solve problems, act on findings, enter new markets and gain a competitive advantage.

Academic Partnerships

IBM’s big data collaborations with universities span a variety of majors, including business, marketing, mathematics and health services – providing schools with access to IBM big data and analytics software, curriculum materials, case study projects and IBM data scientists who visit classes as guest lecturers.