Jun 29, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Now more than ever, we live in a data-centric world. Big data is big business, and companies in every industry are racing to gather each and every piece of data they can get their hands on.

But what to do with all this data once it’s captured? What good is data if you can’t make sense of it?

Enter data analytics (DA): the examination of data sets in order to draw insights and conclusions from them. It’s an essential part of the big data world, and a growing, lucrative field for those with the proper training and experience.

Here’s a closer look at the current state of DA, along with some tips on how a graduate degree in analytics can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to secure a critical inside edge in this emerging but competitive job market.

Transcending the Tech World

Siliconrepublic recently declared, “In 2018, we see a great deal of potential for a range of exciting new technologies that will support digital business. However, for any of them to succeed, companies will need to invest in the correct digital architectures to support their plans.”

Adds Disruptive Digital, “Every CEO today must have an answer to the question, ‘What is your digital strategy? What new capabilities are you creating to compete with digital disruptors?’” The key to answering these questions — and to using those answers toward optimal business outcomes — lies with DA. And while the origins of DA trace to the tech industry, it now impacts every sector — from retail to media to industrial goods.

Need more proof of the reach of DA? A staggering 75 percent of companies in the United States and United Kingdom are working to increase their use of analytics in an effort to move to business models that are more predictive than reflective in nature.

At the same time, there remains a disconnect between data, insights, and action in most businesses. According to a recent report from Forrester, “Businesses are drowning in data but starving for insights. Worse, they have no systematic way to consistently turn data into action. This can't continue. Demanding customers and competitive pressures require firms to treat insights — not just data — as a business asset. Firms need to create ‘systems of insight,’ a combination of people, process, and technology, to close the gap between insights and action.”

Enter employees with the ability to understand DA, and to skillfully maneuver their organizations in the shift from big data to true business intelligence. Dubbed “data translators,” these professionals can facilitate improved decision-making — and will therefore be in increased demand by organizations in all industries moving forward.

Why You Should Prioritize DA

It’s not hard to see why DA was declared to be the “best career move” by DATAVERSITY.net. The takeaway? Any person working for a business or starting a business of their own should consider prioritizing DA. A variety of career options support them when they do, including in business and business intelligence analysis; data analysis, architecture, engineering and modeling; data warehouse analysis, management, administration, development and management; marketing analysis; quantitative analysis; statistics and more. They’re good jobs, too: DA professionals with master’s degree in analytics report an average starting salary of more than $82,000 

Aspiring business leaders seeking to gain sought-after “data translation” skills and knowledge need look no further than Bentley University’s Master of Science in Analytics. This innovative program incorporates the teaching of statistical modeling methodologies with cutting-edge data-mining techniques aimed at teaching the mastery of DA and the ability to communicate findings across an organization. The degree is available in three concentrations: business analytics, marketing analytics and audit analytics.

All Bentley students get plenty of opportunity for hands-on practice thanks to seven high-tech innovation centers, including a User Experience Center and the Computer Information Systems Technology Sandbox.

No mention of Bentley is complete without acknowledging its premier Boston location. Not only does this bustling city consistently earn “Best Student City” accolades, but it’s also a DA hub — with leading firms such as Dell/EMC, Accenture, Staples, Bose, Biogen and Amazon having a presence here, and even the city itself heralded for its emphasis on technology. In other words, if you’re looking to acquire and use DA skills in a truly immersive environment that eats, breathes and sleeps big data, there’s no better destination than Boston and Bentley University.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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