June 27, 2011 – Even as universities address the market call for more knowledge workers, courses and programs remain too siloed to best prepare students, according to a new round up of information from academic leaders and industry hiring experts.

The second-year survey, “The State of Business Intelligence in Academia 2010,” sponsored by academic and IT industry think-tank group, Business Intelligence Congress II, includes responses from professors at 125 universities and 339 students from 62 universities around the world, as well as industry recruiters.

Of the colleges surveyed, only three had an analytics or BI undergraduate program, and 12 had those BI or analytics programs for graduate degrees. Business intelligence courses are taught at undergrad and graduate levels at 80 schools, though the course there is offered by a single department, such as statistics, the report stated.

Barbara Wixom, lead researcher on the report and an associate professor of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, says that few academic departments in the U.S. and abroad are offering an interdisciplinary areas to develop skill sets. Instead, universities and students in the survey reported that IT courses on statistics and analytics rarely branched out to business and communications, and those practices lacked technical capabilities.

“Although schools are starting to embed BI in traditional courses like data management, there weren’t many schools jumping up and offering concentrations, majors and degree programs that frankly are necessary given the demand for those skills in the marketplace,” Wixom says.

As a result, there is a shortage of up to 1.5 million knowledge workers prepared to work on BI and trends such as big data coming out of colleges, according to the report and information it cited from recent research by the McKinsey Global Institute. As part of the report by the Business Intelligence Congress II, hiring managers at IT firms said in a multiple answer survey that among their top interests in new hires are hands-on BI experience (74 percent), experience in emerging topics (66 percent) and work with large data sets (54 percent).

Wixom noted obstacles from both academia and the industry: a lack of cooperation across faculty in business and IT programs and absence of understanding from administration as well as an unwillingness of industry leaders to volunteer and share information that can be highly guarded, like large data sets and case studies.

“BI is really forcing bridges to be built, if indeed what we want are the right kind of students coming out,” she says.

To access a PDF of the report, click here.

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