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Ideas Made to Matter

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Managing and visualizing big data

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In an effort to address the need for big data managers and analysts, MIT Sloan in 2016 established a Master of Business Analytics program. Professor of management Dimitri Bertsimas is the director of the program, and in a 2017 podcast interview, he said demand is growing for business analytics skills in company workforces. Ali Almossawi, SM ’12, can also speak to that need. He’s a data visualizer at Apple, and the author of the book “Bad Choices,” which explains computer algorithms in layman’s terms.

Why investing in business analytics is important to your work

Bertsimas — “The demand [for business analytics skills] is skyrocketing. A good example is at the moment there are — I'm not exaggerating — 140 business analytics programs in the world. Two years ago, three years ago maybe there were zero. I would not be surprised if we have an exponential increase in applications in the years to come. I have been a professor 32 years. There have been areas that come and went. I believe this is here to stay.”

Data that matters 

Almossawi — “As these applications of visualization increase in number, it becomes easier to use visualization to communicate various ideas. I think whether it's in business or any other field, data does not always have to be a spreadsheet or a data set as we might sometimes think of it. A lot of the time, it's taking ideas and just transforming them in a way that's sometimes visual, sometimes not, but it makes communicating them much more appealing.”

What should you focus on in the future?

Almossawi —“It's communication. It's not really any of these other buzzwords, visualization, data, data sciences. It's really fundamentally about communication. How can you take something that's inaccessible, or that's not appreciated by a wider audience, and transform it in a way that it is appreciated?” 

 

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