Creating business value with big data

Executive master class to gain big dataknowledge on a managerial level

Several well-known universities offer education programs concerning the underlying techniques and technologies of big data. But what they do not provide is training the managerial skills needed to create value from these data. The 17-day executive master class ‘Creating Business Value with Big Data’ at Vlerick Business School has been created specifically to fill this gap. Philippe Baecke, Professor of Marketing, is leading the class.

Both the Vlerick Business School and I consider SAS to be a leading player in big data analytics. That is why we have asked SAS to add its expertise to our master class.
Philippe Baecke Professor of Marketing, Vlerick Business School

Philippe Baecke
Professor of Marketing, Vlerick Business School

Several well-known universities offer education programs concerning the underlying techniques and technologies of bigdata. But what they do not provide is training the managerial skills needed to create value from these data. The 17-dayexecutive master class ‘Creating Business Value with Big Data’ at Vlerick Business School has been created specifically to fill this gap. Philippe Baecke, Professor of Marketing, is leading the class.

A 2015 survey by The Financial Times lists the Vlerick Business School as one of the top two business schools in the Benelux. The school is renowned for its interactive teaching style; knowledge is not only being transferred from the professor to the participants, but also mutually between the participants. “We believe that our students bring a great deal of knowledge with them to our programs and we actively seek to incorporate this knowledge for the benefit of all ofthe class participants. This is especially true in the fast moving domains such as analytics and big data. That is why we have set up expertise platforms in order to learn from each other,” explains Philippe Baecke.

The benefit realisation model (Viaene, S. 2013. Data scientists aren’t domain experts. IEEE IT Professional.15 (6): 12-17)
The benefit realisation model (Viaene, S. 2013. Data scientists aren’t domain experts. IEEE IT Professional.15 (6): 12-17)

Analytical talents needed!

The Creating Business Value with Big Data master class is a perfect example of this concept. It was launched because of a shortage of analytical talents in the market. A study from McKinsey & Company—one of the leading advisory agenciesfor businesses and institutions—revealed that the United States is facing “a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills necessary to understand and make decisionsbased on the analysis of big data.

”Europe is facing a similar crisis. It might even be more criticalin that many of our best analytical talents are leaving for the US because of the higher wages.

“It is clear there is an enormous need for ‘number crunchers’; talented people with analytical skills, able to carry out their job behind a pc. But we also need more knowledge of analytics and big data at the managerial level. Many find it hard to believe that until now plenty of business decisions were often based on mere intuition. It is now well proven that companies generally perform better when they base their strategic, tactical and operational decisions at least in part on insights gained from accurate information derived from analytics and big data. Managers do not need in-depth technical knowledge, but it is important that they understand the possibilities and limitations of big data, and that they areable to communicate with their technical people,” observes Baecke.

Creating synergies

The Vlerick Business School set up its big data executive master class in such a way that it is particularly useful for business managers, IT specialists and analysts. “This enables us to create interesting synergies between these domains. Class participants have to work with us on in-company projects, whereby they can apply the insights they gain from the master class on an actual project. This of course creates a major added value for the company,” continues Baecke.

Helping create a data-driven company

The Creating Business Value with Big Data master class is divided into four modules: modeling, discovering, operationalizing and cultivating.

During the modeling stage, the class examines the desired targets within the company and determines if and/or how big data might be able to realize these targets. Participants learn how to set up a roadmap and how to manage a big data team and a big data project. In this stage, the cooperation between the three profiles—business managers, analysts and IT—is crucial.

The discovering stage, which follows the modeling stage, handles the conversion of big data into useful insights. The class will also examine new technologies during this stage. These technologies may include such things as network analysis, text mining and process mining.

Big Data Chalkboard

The third step is the operationalizing module. Once the participants are able to extract useful information from the big data—as determined in the modeling stage—they must then translate these insights into actions. This may involve such activities as automating targeted marketing actions or generating messages on the dashboards of service desk workers. Operationalizing can also be used in manufacturing applications. For example, it can make it possible to predict when the projection lamp inside the film projector in the cinema will break down. This enables companies throughout the product chain to anticipate this in their business plans. All stakeholders, from raw materials and manufacturing through distribution and theater operators, are thus better prepared for all eventualities.

The final stage—cultivating—is about creating an analytical mindset within the company and transforming it into a data-driven company. When setting up a big data plan, companies must always ensure that their people will accept it. It is not always easy to get people to embrace the idea that certain decisions that they used to make on their own, will now be made by an intelligent algorithm.”

Adding SAS expertise

“Both the Vlerick Business School and I consider SAS to be a leading player in big data analytics,” states Baecke. “That is why we have asked SAS to add its expertise to our master class. The personnel at SAS have a broad view on many different innovative big data cases currently in the market or on the horizon, so it is particularly valuable for us and for the class participants to work closely together with SAS.

This year, we invited a SAS specialist to discuss the roadmap which is needed to set up a successful analytical mindset or get a big data project up and running. Another SAS specialist explained how to integrate new types of data—from social media, web and mobile devices—into an existing consumer database to support an omnichannel marketing strategy and translate it into profitable actions.

“Unlike its competitors, SAS always kept an in-depth focus on data analytics. Their specialization in this domain makes their experts particularly desirable as guest lecturers”, concludes Baecke.

Vlerick Business School

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Executive master class to gain big dataknowledge on a managerial level

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