Why an effective approach to big data management is crucial for business leaders

  • July 14, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

Business leaders need to hone a diverse range of skills and qualities before they can raise a successful business. They need to open their toolbox and see an array of skills and lived experiences that they can select and wield in any new situation. Understanding and using big data is one of those tools that no leader should be without. 

While many skills can be learned through work experience, certain ones, such as big data management, can be learned through a classroom MBA experience with knowledgeable guidance and instruction. The faculty members at Olin Business School at WashU are well-versed in both managing data and making empowered decisions based on data.

The business value of big data and data-driven leadership skills

Why is the Managing Big Data course such a key feature of the Olin MBA?

The course evolved in response to the world becoming increasingly reliant on data. We live in a digital age, and data is one of organizations’ most valuable assets. Data-driven decisions guide modern successful businesses; they collect vast amounts of data from various sources—customer interactions, social media and almost every other online channel—in order to accurately interpret and predict what their audience needs and wants.

The business value of big data is massive because the benefits of data-driven decision-making are so various and transformative. Data on its own is pretty meaningless, but when mined for its insights, it can suddenly prove and demonstrate all sorts of truths about businesses and their audiences.

Big data management isn’t just how organizations work now; it’s also how they win. Companies that effectively manage and analyze their data gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. They can make better-informed decisions, develop targeted marketing strategies and identify new business opportunities.

This is why the Managing Big Data course is a crucial stepping stone for students preparing to work in an environment where they will need data analytics skills to survive. At Olin, we have created many courses that put data at the heart of business, but Managing Big Data is one of the most foundational courses for learning how to gain insight into customer behavior and pursue better business strategies.

What does the managing big data course teach students?

As this course has evolved, it has reacted to how students are learning and thinking in today’s business world. When we first started talking about big data, students didn’t know how to store, manipulate and retrieve data that didn’t fit into their computing machines. The term “cloud computing” was around, but students didn’t yet understand its advantages.

We introduced the course to answer these questions. As industries race to get more data, the demand for such skills grows, and students need big data skills to get their feet in the door. To better prepare students to face the challenges and decisions they will make leading their organizations, Managing Big Data focuses on how to:

Continue learning as big data evolves

Students need to know how to learn data analytics. The learning process will continue as they graduate and grow their businesses because data itself is growing all the time. The course equips leaders with the skills to analyze large volumes of data and extract meaningful insights to inform decision-making. By learning to use these tools and techniques, students also learn how to apply their education in the real world and continue to learn from those real-life experiences.

Understand customer behavior

In today’s business environment, understanding customer behavior is crucial for success. This course teaches leaders how to analyze customer data and identify patterns and trends in customer behavior, which can inform marketing strategies and product development decisions. By understanding customer behavior, leaders can make more informed decisions that align with the needs and preferences of their target markets.

Effectively manage risk

Managing risk is a critical business function in today’s world, where bold decisions are often needed to sustain a company in a difficult economy. Managing Big Data teaches leaders to use data analytics to identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies. By understanding the potential risks associated with different actions and decisions, leaders can gain a bird’s eye view of their businesses and chart the best course to address or avoid problems.

Big data is not just a current trend but also the future of business. The volume and complexity of data will only continue to grow and become an important influencing factor in business decisions. If students can learn to leverage big data, they will be well-positioned to succeed in the marketplace.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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