MBA with a specialization in Business Analytics

Business Analytics is the process of arriving at scientific business decisions in the ever increasing and ever dynamic realms of cut throat competition that businesses have to contend in the modern day business arena. Analytics is a critical strategic capability that most global organizations are trying to build to create a lasting impact in their respective business eco-systems. Analytics gives organizations a competitive edge when it comes to slicing through large volumes of data at the blink of an eye and at a tremendous precision. These advantages help organizations of all sizes create smart and timely decision making frameworks that can be utilized profitably for both drawing deeper insights from historical data and developing models to forecast the future.

Analytics involves understanding business data, leveraging technological tools to perform statistical techniques, aggregating pieces of information into a coherent and meaningful business story and communicating actionable strategies with intuitive reports to improve firm performance and thereby enhance stakeholder value creation. The age of the internet and the data explosion through media like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc… make it compelling for organizations to crawl through data from multiple sources and multiple formats to identify meaningful insights about customer behaviour, preferences and choices. The valuable information thus obtained is profiled based on business needs to map the right customers with the right products and right campaigns.

The core strength of analytics lies in the fact that it is multi-domain and multi-functional in its application. For example, a model used by bankers for identifying potential defaulters from the list of loan applicants is not so different from a model that HR Managers could use to manage attrition. Thus MBA aspirants with an interest to pursue specialization in marketing, retail, finance, HR, strategy or operations should all necessarily have a strong analytics orientation.

An astute analytics professional is expected to have a strong blend of business acumen, logical sense and model building capabilities. Thus MBA students of today are ideal for such roles and have a similar opportunity like that of the IT wave of the nineties to make a strong case for a dramatic rise in their careers, salaries and living standards. There are plenty of demand for such qualified professionals in US, UK, Singapore, Dubai and India amongst many other places in the globe where qualified business analytics professionals are in high demand.

Many top universities across the globe have started a master’s program in business analytics for the coming academic year, to bridge the large gap between a mighty demand for qualified business analytics professionals and a scanty supply of the same. The IIMs, ISB, IITs are also on the race to create quality talent to cater to the increasing needs of the Indian job market. A good proportion of the delegates who do the program at these top institutions are already in the middle / senior management roles and are getting ready to ensure that Corporate India is competent enough to face the analytics challenge. Most of the top training institutes like RVS Analytics, Jigsaw and EduPristine also have a lot of senior management professionals who get skilled in Analytics to remain competitive and ride the wealth tide of Analytics at an opportune time.

However, the real problem is the widening gap at the entry level. According to a report from Mckinsey Global Institute, by 2018 there would be a shortage of about 1.5 to 2 lakhs professionals with deep analytical skills and 15 lakhs of managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of Big Data to make effective decisions in US alone. There are a lot of opportunities for budding MBAs in the analytics space in India too, but the right talent is hard to come by. While businesses are innovating every moment, most B-school curriculums resist innovation and are still naïve and follow text books style teaching methodologies which are far separated from the talent and skill sets that the corporates are looking for. B-schools should actively look for signals from the job market and incorporate these into their main stream programs to justify the high amount of fees charged by B-Schools these days.

Given, the amount of importance shown by corporates, world over on embracing analytics in their strategic framework, It is really surprising that only a handful of institutions in India are having a full-fledged analytics specialization in their MBA programs. Institutions like Great Lakes in Chennai, RVSIMSR in Coimbatore and Praxis Kolkata are few of the institutions that offer a power packed program in Analytics in the coming academic year.

Most of the above mentioned institutions have tied up with some industry leaders in analytics to offer their MBA programs. For example, RVSIMSR will offer their program by partnering with IBM. The course curriculum is designed and vetted by industry experts from IBM and other top organizations. The students will also be mentored by leaders from IBM to complete their projects and hence will get real time corporate projects to work during their study. This will help the students move away from bookish methodologies to working on meaningful real time cases which will give them a distinct advantage in the job market. Similarly, Praxis have a partnership with PWC and Great Lakes institute has a tie up with Jigsaw academy to offer their analytics programs.

It is very important that B-School aspirants also proactively look for the market trend and decide to do programs which have a good level of corporate reality embedded into the course structure. An MBA from a tier 2 B-school offering a business analytics specialization is likely to fetch atleast 40 -50 % higher salaries when compared to plain vanilla MBA offerings. If we factor the career growth in subsequent years, MBA with a specialization in Business Analytics is expected to provide 2 – 3 times higher ROI than a normal MBA . In any market, only the forerunners will grab the limelight. Are you one?

Lalitha – FPM (IIM-B)