To foster to the ever rising demands of the industry and the education sector, that grows by every passing minute; there needs to be a fosterer that improvises with time. The big question that pertains is what could be the fostering methods. The answer is still quite ambiguous but the one method that has proven to be reliant and has always catered to these needs is technology. With its heavy impact through the time tested, technology has proven to sustain in all dynamics of education and its growth has only been progressive. Its major role has been in Business Intelligence, Big Data and Business Analysis.
The current objective of today's Business Intelligence and Big Data revolves around factors at individual student level to enhance their learning experience and improving scores. At class levels to effectively manage group activities and projects, and at an institution level to effectively reduce dropout rates, increase graduation numbers and mould their syllabus according to the latest industry needs.
Rajmohan Sreekumaran, Practice Head - Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence and Analytics Practice, Marlabs Software; says, "Big Data which can be defined by 4 Vs (Velocity, Variety, Volume and Veracity) is getting lot of traction and its contribution to the education sector is commendable. Big Data significantly contributes to help industries to create learning software to adapt their products to student capabilities."
The application of Big Data in the education sector influences students, teachers, classrooms, study materials, and institutions. Due to heavy demand in Big Data analysis tools and experts, both in India and overseas; a lot of courses are geared to create Big Data measurement and analytics specialists. With the explosion of volumes of data, the need to create skills to handle, analyze and use it has also exploded. This talent pool is expected to grow by leaps and bounds, as much as 30-40% each year at least for the next few years.
If the education system is solely taken into consideration, specific challenges become apparent. A major challenge is with student privacy. All data, though capable of being gathered, processed and analyzed, it seldom can be put into real advantage because parents and privacy advocates do not wish to reveal personal information of their wards to a third party . Another challenge has to do with the complexity of the system. The number of applications is enormous which makes the collection, integration and analysis much more involved than conventional. Adding to these is the limitation of both financial and IT resources.
The possibility to understand skill-gaps and tailor curriculum utilizing Business Intelligence and Analytics makes it a major advantage of it. Integrating industry key metrics and student key metrics helps to identify and address the gaps and shortage of 'in-demand-skills' of the industry. Specific pedagogy can be created that is tailored to an individual. Detecting gaps in knowledge early on and suggesting activities customized to enhance skills to fill them can be accomplished by utilizing Business Intelligence and Analytics.
Although Business Intelligence and Data Science are some of the most sought after areas in IT, very few educational institutions incorporate these topics into their regular curriculum. This results in talent gap when hiring new graduates. There is not much dearth for inherent skills in young graduates. When fresh graduates are hired, they are first given intensive training for the first few months, and then they work under Business Intelligence mentors who help them bridge further gaps and make them productive faster.
The factor that motivates most towards it is to 'think out-of-box'. At interesting times there is global Data explosion. It consists of newly expanded database stack like NoSQL, parallel relational databases, MapReduce engines apart from the traditional relational databases. Team members are encouraged to research and learn in their areas of interest and continuously innovate.
The market for Business Intelligence in education sector in Indian market is predicted to be around $140 million. This is only for software licenses alone. The overall Business Intelligence market could be around $7 billion. This holds reason for Big Data and Business Intelligence to be started small and not with a big bang from the start. That is the uniqueness of Big Data. One can get into it at any point and extract valuable new knowledge. If data collection and analysis is not somebody's strong area, then it is better to find suitable Business Intelligence/ Big data service providers who have strong expertise in the Education domain.
One can first start with current state assessment on infrastructure, process, capabilities, and technology and so on. Then, they can come up with Future state vision based on their goals and the problems they are trying to solve. They must also do the Gap analysis and based on the findings they should come up with the conceptual plan on how to get to the future state. Finally the detailed implementation plan can be laid out and started with.
As told to Waheeb Ulla.