By Wailin Wong | IBM is helping to fund a new center at DePaul University that focuses on
advanced data analysis for businesses.
The Center for Data Mining and Predictive Analytics, which is scheduled
to open in September, is partially the fruit of last year’s $1.2 billion
acquisition of Chicago-based software company SPSS Inc. by IBM. SPSS
specializes in data mining and predictive analytics, which sifts through
massive amounts of data to spot patterns.
Companies in a wide range of
industries use predictive analytics — an insurance firm, for example,
could better detect fraudulent claims by examining millions of past
claims and identifying certain variables that indicate a statistical
probability of fraud.
DePaul is also offering a new masters of science degree in predictive
analytics, with IBM furnishing SPSS software, course materials and guest
lecturers. The company did not disclose the amount of its investment in
the center. The new programs at the university are expected to benefit
IBM, as students will learn the company’s software as they move through
the curriculum. They can also get certified in SPSS software through an
“What we want is students coming out of DePaul with certification around the use of SPSS analytics tools to increase their marketability,” said Deepak Advani, vice president of predictive analytics at IBM. “This collaboration between DePaul and IBM is going to be a significant accelerator of predictive skills in the marketplace.”
Raffaella Settimi, a professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media, said she has seen increased demand from different industries for professionals with advanced data analysis skills. DePaul already offers courses in fields such as Web analytics and data mining that computer science students often take as electives. The new masters program, which comprises 13 courses, marries existing classes to training in marketing and communications so that graduates can explain their analysis to general business audiences.
“It’s a way of really putting together all the courses of interest to students who want to learn more about advanced data analytics,” Settimi said.
The IBM-supported center will bring in real-world companies as clients to collaborate with faculty members and students on projects. Students in the masters program will also have opportunities to work on research projects at the center and get hands-on experience through internships.
“People who will be good predictive analytic people will need this intersection of business knowledge, statistical and mathematical sciences, and technology, because it’s where the three come together,” Advani said.