Universities add programs with big data focus

Nest Labs Inc. sells an estimated 1.2 million thermostats each year. Data scientists gather the temperature preference information from 100,000 households each month; and then Google, which purchased Nest in 2014, uses skilled data analysts to help the company more competitively run its business.

Online retailers, social media and the Internet of Things — manufactured things that are connected to the Internet (like the Nest thermostat) — are generating extraordinary amounts of data. Plus, with computers and cloud computing cheaper and faster, companies can perform high-powered number crunching on data to personalize products or predict future trends.
“Data is a strategic tool that makes you lower your costs, increase your revenues and increase your profits,” said Amitabh Sinha, associate professor of technology and operations at the University of Michigan. A company with these tools, he said, puts competitive pressure on its rivals.

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