University of Toronto adds new certificate program in Big Data

Managed Analytics Services principal Larry Simon

According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, “The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data.” (McKinsey Big Data focus report)

Toronto-based consultancy Managed Analytics Services is working with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies to address the gap by developing a certification in management of Big Data and Analytics. Principal Larry Simon notes that “There were already several courses available in the methods and techniques of data analysis, data mining and/or Big Data technology, but we wanted to create a program that focused on the important management issues while also introducing the key ideas of the techniques.” The result is a four course suite that explores security, privacy and organizational issues in developing the Analytics function in an organization and in dealing with large volumes of potentially sensitive information. The first three courses are required for a certification in Enterprise Analytics; the fourth is a deeper dive into data mining techniques.

The first session started in September at the University of Toronto downtown campus, and the advanced data mining course — along with a second core content session— will likely be run again in January 2014, in response to strong demand that resulted in nearly-full registration for the initial session.

Simon describes the MAS/U of T program as being “as much about data-driven, rational decision making as it is about new techniques or technologies.  We’re trying to bring a perspective that still captures the excitement of the inherent potential of the new tools and methods, but without the hype that often clouds the story.  We’ve collected a wealth of success stories from our clients and end user organizations that we’ve weaved into the material.”

Some of the highlights of successes included in the course material include:

  • GoldCorp’s use of analytics to turn the company around and set it on its current course as one of the world’s fastest growing senior gold producers
  • The UN’s use of cellphone data to find and help communities under stress
  • How cities like Chicago are using social media analytics to dramatically improve city services

Simon believes that by studying successful Big Data implementations, Canadian management can develop strategies to unlock the value of data and analytics. “Big Data is complicated because it is both a management and a technology issue,” he says, “but as the strong demand for the certification shows, it is important to the future of both managers and technologists.”

Click here for more information on the MAS/U of T Certificate in Management of Enterprise Data Analytics (Big Data)


  1. Is this certificate course enough to get a job in Big Data field (Data Scientist or Analyst) in case if we have previous three years experience in SAP Business Intelligence?

    • This course is a good kick start if you have the passion and career drive to enter this field. And 3 years in BI will definitely make you a good Data Analyst! Good luck.


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