As the conversation about big data and its advantages continues across industries, many MBA prospects are turning to schools and programs with a special focus on analytics. Spurring the interest, are firms like General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and Walt Disney Co. who are looking to hire more analytics talent. However, some data experts point to the importance of human-sciences-oriented approach including human judgment and intuition to make sense of data. And developing those skills may require a more balanced set of business coursework.
A recent New York Times article “How Not to Drown in Numbers” discusses the limitations of big data despite the overwhelming buzz the trend has received over the years. Authors Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, economist and contributing opinion writer, and Alex Peysakhovich, behavioral economics and data scientist at Facebook, point out that while big data can measure many things, it doesn’t answer the key question of “What did I miss?”
Instead, they call for an approach that marries big data with what they refer to as small data, “surveys and judgment of humans.” For example, on a day-to-day basis, Facebook collects the big data pertaining to user’s newsfeed likes, clicks, comments, but also collects small data by asking questions like “Do you want to see this post in your News Feed?” and “Why.”
“Big data in the form of behaviors and small data in the form of surveys complement each other and produce insights rather than simple metrics,” write Peysakhovich and Stephens-Davidowitz.
At William Woods University MBA in Entrepreneurial Leadership program, the balance between big data and human judgment is achieved through the curriculum’s special focus on developing student’s emotional or social intelligence. Additionally, students are required to take a course in Marketing Research Decisions and Analysis that emphasizes the need for and execution of research activities to answer business questions.