Big data: data scientists have the ‘sexiest job’ of the 21st century

Big data holds great opportunities but there are also risks and challenges. Exactly ‘what’s in it’ for stakeholders – as experienced by a media company, a technology company and an airline; Sanoma, Fujitsu and Lufthansa – was explored during the RSM Leadership Summit 2014 hosted by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) at the iconic Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek in Rotterdam in early October.

The Summit was also the occasion for the presentation of the RSM Distinguished Alumni Awards 2014. This year’s recipients were Dr Herbert Smorenburg (Executive MBA 2002), and Alba Tiley (MSc in Strategic Management 2010). Both are working on the philanthropic issues of global nutrition and sustainability; a report of the awards can be found <link about-rsm news detail>here.

Will we still need managers?
With presentations from international business and RSM academics plus lively questions for the experts from the 600-strong audience, the RSM Leadership Summit 2014 exposed a burning question: when analytics are effective enough to be able to automate decisions based on big data, will we still need managers? The role of management became clear as the speakers presented their cases.

Big data holds great opportunities for business, but there are also risks and challenges, it was revealed. These massive sets of digital information – about operations or customers – can be used to create a competitive advantage. But first, managers and business leaders need new skills in marketing and data analytics to be able to make the most of big data. And likewise, data technology specialists need to know more about marketing and businesses. As one of the speakers commented, ‘data scientists might have the sexiest job of the 21st century!’

The audience was welcomed by RSM Dean Professor Steef van de Velde and the compère for the afternoon was Dutch TV journalist Twan Huys.