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Word Cloud "Big Data"As big data has evolved from buzzword to reliable business intelligence, from speculation to bedrock, professionals are finding themselves presented on a near daily basis with new concepts and tools to interpret data with which they have little to no experience. With exponentially expanding volumes of data and new applications, staying informed and ahead of the next headline is the “edge” many professionals need to succeed in the workplace.

Mobile technology, from smartphones to a slew of varying IoT applications, have filled the cracks in nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives, resulting in larger data sets than ever before. It’s no surprise then that savvy companies are identifying a major opportunity in collecting and analyzing valuable data for insight into market trends, customer sentiment and more. The job of a data professional is resultantly evolving, and has become even more complex as new tools, methods and applications emerge.

Machine Learning

Machine learning methods, driving much of modern data analysis across engineering, sciences, and commercial applications, have seen tremendous growth of late. By constructing custom algorithms, data professionals are leveraging machine learning methods to interpret business data and make informed content recommendations, predict customer behavior, compliance, risk and more. New developments and advances in this methodology are continuously improving and changing the way data professionals analyze data.

While the machine learning method and others are immensely helpful, they require data professionals to be on the cutting edge of new advances and techniques in order to operate their functions fully– something many are turning to continuing education for.

Continuing education offers an incredible opportunity for professionals to stay on top of the latest advances in the industry while taking the next step in their careers. It gives professionals the chance to step outside of the demands of their daily routine, learn from leading minds in the industry and take back new and useful applications to establish in the workplace.

Here at MIT Professional Education, we see great value in offering technical professionals continuing education opportunities that are both accessible, and easily taken in conjunction with one’s busy work schedule. We’ve seen the greatest impact in offering data professionals industry-focused short classes (usually 1-5 days) during the summer through our Short Programs, in addition to a growing interest in global digital courses. During recent sessions of our first online course on big data, we reached record-high enrollment as the program drew over 7,000 professionals from over 3,000 organizations in 100 countries worldwide. After seeing such high enrollment numbers in our last three program offerings, we have no doubt continuing education will continue to play a significant role in empowering professionals to achieve their career goals and stay ahead of the pack.

It’s clear that the big data evolution has only begun to inform business intelligence, and is already having monumental impact. As corporations continue to amass data, the work of scientists, engineers and IT professionals will grow in importance. Our job is to identify and develop cutting edge learning experiences that will empower data professionals to fulfill their vital roles in the future of business.

Clara Piloto is director of global programs at MIT Professional Education.