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Let’s stop trying to be “sexy” – preparing managers for the (big) data-driven business era

Kevin Daniel André Carillo (Department of Information Management, Toulouse Business School, University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the inadequacies of current business education in the tackling of the educational challenges inherent to the advent of a data-driven business world. It presents an analysis of the implications of digitization and more specifically big data analytics (BDA) and data science (DS) on organizations with a special emphasis on decision-making processes and the function of managers. It argues that business schools and other educational institutions have well responded to the need to train future data scientists but have rather disregarded the question of effectively preparing future managers for the new data-driven business era.


The approach involves analysis and review of the literature.


The development of analytics skills shall not pertain to data scientists only, it must rather become an organizational cultural component shared among all employees and more specifically among decision makers: managers. In the data-driven business era, managers turn into manager-scientists who shall possess skills at the crossroad of data management, analytical/modeling techniques and tools, and business. However, the multidisciplinary nature of big data analytics and data science (BDADS) seems to collide with the dominant “functional silo design” that characterizes business schools. The scope and breadth of the radical digitally enabled change, the author are facing, may necessitate a global questioning about the nature and structure of business education.

Research limitations/implications

For the sake of transparency and clarity, academia and the industry must join forces to standardize the meaning of the terms surrounding big data. BDA/DS training programs, courses, and curricula shall be organized in such a way that students shall interact with an array of specialists providing them a broad enough picture of the big data landscape. The multidisciplinary nature of analytics and DS necessitates to revisit pedagogical models by developing experiential learning and implementing a spiral-shaped pedagogical approach. The attention of scholars is needed as there exists an array of unexplored research territories. This investigation will help bridge the gap between education and the industry.

Practical implications

The findings will help practitioners understand the educational challenges triggered by the advent of the data-driven business era. The implications will also help develop effective trainings and pedagogical strategies that are better suited to prepare future professionals for the new data-driven business world.


By demonstrating how the advent of a data-driven business era is impacting the function and role of managers, the paper initiates a debate revolving around the question about how business schools and higher education shall evolve to better tackle the educational challenges associated with BDADS training. Elements of response and recommendations are then provided.



Carillo, K.D.A. (2017), "Let’s stop trying to be “sexy” – preparing managers for the (big) data-driven business era", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 598-622.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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