The new Masters in Analytics and Management, launching in 2019, will equip students with the business knowledge and the data processing skills to navigate the machine learning revolution. We sat down with Associate Professor of Management Science and Operations, Dr Tolga Tezcan, to talk AI, skills gaps and jobs of the future.
Tolga, is there a demand for data analytics skills in the job market?
Absolutely. For some time businesses have been telling us there’s a shortage of managers with data mining skills and it’s a growing area. The techie profile – the PhDs in machine learning – these people will have few problems in the job market, but organisations are increasingly looking to recruit people that have both: the business understanding and the technical skills to leverage the opportunities and spot new ones. And it’s feedback we’re getting from our MBAs as well. They are also seeing the need to build these analytics skills in order to progress in their careers.
Why is analytics such a growing market?
In a nutshell, it’s all about the AI revolution. If you think back to 30 years ago, businesses didn’t have direct interaction with their end customers. Then the internet arrived and changed all that. Today, companies have direct access to an abundance of data from their customers – we can collect data on the products and services that customers browse or try and buy, and those they don’t. The challenge is converting that data into actionable business strategy, but we’re already starting to make significant strides here. Amazon and others are using data, algorithms and machine learning to obtain knowledge and spread it around their entire organisations. Looking ahead to the next 30 years, AI is going to change everything all over again. It will all be automated. The data and the technology are there.
From August 2019, LBS will launch the new Masters in Analytics and Management (MAM). How did you get involved with the programme?
Back in 2017, we began offering an elective in analytics on the MBA programme in response to growing demand from businesses and from MBAs themselves. And that demand was healthy. We quickly increased from one to two streams and places filled up fast. So this area that had begun as “niche” was fast becoming mainstream as companies and their executives saw the need for analytical skills together with business acumen to leverage existing opportunities and spot the new ones.
So the Master in Analytics and Management was conceived as a response to this demand?
Yes, we have designed a Masters programme that draws on the full expertise of London Business School to develop business skills, as well as technical capabilities. We’ve taken a holistic approach that incorporates both business and science. We will be teaching our students to run end-to-end data mining projects and how to identify opportunities to use machine learning to drive value for their organisations.
So what does the curriculum cover?
We will cover areas such as data sourcing, cleaning and storing, analysing data, and using machine learning to deliver predictive analysis – in other words, figuring out what to do on the basis of the information and the technology. Surrounding this will be business contexts, such as finance and accounting or marketing scenarios and cases. And we are weaving in real-world exposure through an extended, six-month data science project using real data and real projects, to simultaneously build business acumen and applied, technical capabilities.
The outcome is that students will leave the Masters with the business and analytical skills to hit the job market running.
What kind of student profile do you aim to attract to the Masters?
The student profile for the MAM is not prescriptive, although applicants will need to be comfortable with quantitative and analytical thinking. The programme is also aimed at early career profiles – recent graduates or young professionals with a maximum of one or two years of experience under their belts.
What the MAM offers to these students is new: this kind of learning is not common in the undergraduate experience, nor is it something that early career professionals can pick up on the job.
We are looking for analytics-oriented students – quants, perhaps, more than poets – to develop a confluence of strategic and science understanding, together with a suite of next-generation and in-demand skills so that graduates can walk into jobs and deliver impact from day one.
How do you think LBS MAM graduates will be received by recruiters, and what type of roles or companies do you see them moving into?
IBM, PwC and others have reported their struggle to bridge the business and data-mining skills gap. There is a shortage of people at entry and managerial levels with the competencies to perform these tasks efficiently and understand how they sit within a company’s strategy or contribute to its competitive edge. That’s a shortage that is being felt now and is only set to increase exponentially.
All kinds of companies from consultancies to startups, from retail to tech to media to healthcare – companies in every sector are looking to recruit people with business and data processing skills.
So the value in having a Masters in Analytics and Management is…?
Well, in simple terms, it’s a question of getting ahead of the change. Or being left behind.
Young people entering the market today will need to be comfortable with machine learning. And we’re arming them with the skills, knowledge and the tools for the jobs of tomorrow.
AI is coming. And now’s the time to get proactive about it.