University of Ottawa and IBM create new analytics research center

Research and curriculum to prepare students with 'in-demand' skills to support 21st Century jobs

OTTAWA, April 15, 2010 -- IBM and the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa today announced they are collaborating to create an international center of excellence for business analytics at the University's Telfer School to help prepare students for careers in "economy of tomorrow" industries that are expected to benefit from the billions in provincial and federal government stimulus investments.

To initiate the new IBM Center for Performance Management, IBM and the Telfer School will invest more than $4.8 million in cash and in-kind time of IBM research and development, software, services, consulting and support staff. IBM will contribute hardware and software, while the Telfer School will establish a new $1 million endowment fund as an institutional contribution to the new Center.

Through the new Center, The Telfer School of Management and IBM will collaborate on new business analytics research, focused on performance management innovation that will help guide curriculum for students as they prepare for work in key industries, including healthcare, green infrastructure, clean energy and utilities, education, transportation and public service.

This joint research will center on two key areas of business analytics – performance management, and business intelligence – capabilities that help organizations better integrate their global operations, sense and respond, predict and then take action for smarter management, better business decisions and improved performance.

As part of the investment, IBM researchers will reside at the University of Ottawa and work side by side with the Telfer School of Management faculty in a collaborative lab environment that will include research initiatives for high performance computing with business analytics as well as other research and academic projects.

IBM's 2010 Global CFO Study of 1,900 CFOs worldwide attests to the need for organizations to gain better insight across their business. Many respondents indicated that they plan to use sophisticated analytics to uncover correlations among seemingly unrelated pieces of information and find patterns nearly impossible to detect manually.

Industries Need Mainstream Analytics Skills to Improve Business Outcomes According to IDC, more than 1,200 Exabytes of digital information will be created this year. One Exabyte is the digital equivalent of a trillion novels. Business and governments alike are using the power of analytics to strategically manage the information explosion and make informed decisions to better serve customers and citizens. Examples of these transformation projects include smart grids that lower energy consumption, sensors that help reduce traffic congestion, electronic medical records for personalized healthcare and RFID tags that trace food and medicine for consumer safety.

"Analytics can be applied to every day challenges to vastly improve our lives and provide highly marketable skills to our university students entering the workforce," said Dr. Greg Richards, Professor of Performance Management, University of Ottawa Telfer School of Management. "One of the challenges with research in the field of Performance Management and Analytics is the lack of integration across different disciplines addressing the topic. This new Center will allow us to collaborate across disciplines to drill into integrative processes and methods that dramatically improve organizational productivity. Focusing these research efforts on some of the wicked problems facing our planet will deliver long-term benefits to organizations and to the communities in which they operate."

The Ottawa Hospital is three years into its journey from a paper-based information-sharing environment to a digital one. The hospital, along with its 12,000 staff and 1,300 physicians, is using IBM business analytics to inform the best patient care decisions. Increasingly, jobs at the hospital require a combination of deep healthcare expertise and analytics skills. "Business analytics provides an essential foundation for the development of compassionate, patient-centered care," said Dale Potter, CIO of The Ottawa Hospital. "By providing doctors, nurses and other health professionals the timely, relevant information they need to make the best care decisions, The Ottawa Hospital can become a world leader in quality and patient safety."

The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa offers undergraduate and graduate programs in English and French across business and health management, information systems, finance, human resources and marketing. The Telfer School is one of only 3 business schools in Canada with all three international accreditations.

The Telfer School has existing courses on Managing Corporate Performance in which students are currently learning methods of integrative analysis using multi-dimensional tools. Beginning September 2010, with the new IBM technology available, students will also learn how to create dashboards that focus on key business performance measures and how to manipulate data using analytic techniques to generate insights that lead to better strategic performance. Overall, the intent is to help students use the power of information by applying modern information technology to quickly identify key performance drivers and apply analytic thinking to make insightful management decisions.

"To innovate, we have to continue to invest in skills that are in-demand by organizations worldwide. Analytics is becoming mainstream as we prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. These kinds of skills are no longer solely the domain of IT analysts, mathematicians or statisticians," said Rob Ashe, general manager, business analytics, IBM. "Through collaboration, the University of Ottawa is helping to lead this charge by combining essential business and technical skills for students who will help transform key industries with modern techniques."

IBM has invested more than $10 billion in the past four years in organic investments as well as 14 strategic acquisitions to build its business analytics capabilities. In the past 12 months, IBM has assembled 4000 analytics consultants with industry expertise and opened seven new analytics centers worldwide where clients can work closely with IBM experts to directly apply analytics in their business. The IBM Academic Initiative offers no charge access to online resources to help over 4,600 universities and community colleges worldwide cultivate more competitive business and IT skills to meet the needs of new and emerging industries.

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