The glaring numbers out of papers and surveys from the last BI Congress centered on the IT skills gap with university graduates. How has that changed over the last year or two?
These are the first steps, and there are two gaps. The first is the data scientist gap, and many of these schools are doing a good job in preparing students to close that gap, which is smaller. There are just fewer of these positions needed. We have incredible computer science and math programs out there who frankly are thrilled with that excitement around the quantitative bent toward data jobs. I personally worry still about the gap with the business analyst side. If you look at those McKinsey numbers, where it’s 1.5 million managers needed for evidence-based decision-making, I feel like we still have a long way to go. And that’s a business school problem, more than IT. In the IT field, we’re doing a great job of creating a core of business analytics programs and starting to spread that through the university.
But to close that truly huge gap, it’s going to take an effort across the school. As one of the analytics directors at [University of Virginia], we’ve done what most traditional schools have also done with offering courses, but what we’re doing now is going back and revising curriculum across the business school. Luckily, we have support from our dean and faculty, and you need that. The future for this businessperson is inherently different than the gut-based graduate who has been prevalent in the past. To do that, we have to go through our prerequisites even and look at how we can incorporate more of these [data-based decision] capabilities across the whole program. That’s what I think needs to happen to cover that skills gap.