Making Use of Data: What Is Big Data Analytics?

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Online Master of Business Analytics

A lady using a touchscreen phone with graphics representing data over the image

Consider this: 90 percent of the digital information in the world was created in the past two years, and this data informs how businesses operate, how consumers make purchases, and how processes—and even some products—work. Yet companies, on average, only analyze around 12 percent of their data.
That’s leaving a lot on the table when it comes to potential improvements, better products, or ways to leverage information to drive revenues. That’s why organizations are increasingly recognizing the need for big data analytics and are hiring business analysis pros to handle the work.

What Is Big Data Analytics?

Big data analytics is exactly what it sounds like: the science of analyzing huge volumes of data. We’re talking about a lot more data than you can efficiently siphon into Excel and manipulate with out-of-the-box charts or even pivot tables. Big data analytics requires the ability to store data in multiple databases and to retrieve, format, calculate, and report various elements related to that data via analytical, statistical, and technological tools.
In answering the question, What is big data analytics? IBM notes that it is “the use of advanced analytic techniques against very large, diverse data sets that include structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, from different sources, and in different sizes from terabytes to zettabytes.” People can learn these techniques in a business analytics degree program like those offered at Ohio University.

Filling the Analytical Gap

Not everyone has the skills to use advanced analytics techniques. On the contrary, the ability to accurately and relevantly source and analyze zettabytes of information in varied formats is a specialized skill—one that’s in high demand due to shortages of qualified workers. According to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the business analytics field is experiencing critical skills shortages across all industries.
This means qualified students graduating with an online Master of Business Analytics degree are entering a field primed for hiring. Students are likely to find plenty of opportunities as companies in all types of industries take up the banner of big data in an effort to leverage their digital resources to stay competitive or increase revenues.

Big Data Skills

A degree in the field of data science definitely helps your resume catch the eye of prospective employers, but landing a job in big data analytics requires more than just a degree. Here are three skills you’ll need to convert rivers of raw data into channels of useful information that inform business decisions or run processes.

1. Data and Statistical Analysis

It’s not enough to pull data back and forth with reporting skills. Once you have raw data where you want it, you must be able to convert it from rows and columns to narrative information that management can use to make decisions. Typically, you will do this via various statistical analysis processes, which convert complex data into charts, graphs, and narrative questions and conclusions.

2. SQL Programming

The SQL programming language is a critical part of managing big data because it offers a way to pull information from all its different storage mechanisms and put it into a format that can be analyzed. It lets you generate reports that can feed other business processes or be analyzed using statistics.
Not surprisingly, SQL knowledge is a must for many roles. Dan Sommer, Trilogy founder, and CEO, says, “If you want to be a business analyst, data analyst, data engineer, data scientist, web developer, software engineer, or database administrator, it’s important to know SQL.”

3. Database and Data Warehouse Knowledge

Finally, before data gets pulled together via SQL or analyzed with statistics, it must be securely housed somewhere. Data engineers and others work to maintain appropriate digital databases and warehouses on local servers and in the cloud to ensure information is ready when businesses need it. Data storage skills range from logistics to cybersecurity, and you’ll need to know how each skill is pertinent to housing digital information.

Learn More About Data Analytics Careers

These important skills are taught at Ohio University’s Online Master of Business Analytics degree program. Find out more about the program and how you can learn what big data analytics is and how it could impact your career.


Recommended Readings

Ohio University Blog, “Online Masters of Business Analytics Program Overview”
Ohio University Blog, “How to Empower Decision  Making with Predictive Analytics”Ohio University Blog, “Two Types of Data Analysis for Building a Business Analytics Career”


Attunity, 10 Eye-Opening Stats About the Growth of Big Data
Computer Weekly, Big Data Skills Shortages—and How to Work Around Them
Forbes, The Five Most In-Demand Skills for Data Analysis Jobs
IBM, What Is Big Data Analytics?