During a MIS-sponsored mock-interview this week, I asked an IT professional working with Coca-Cola’s global software implementation what the most significant trend is in the realm of business and technology. His two-word reply was “Big Data.” Everyone is talking about it, and with good reason. According to Gartner, Big Data will drive $232 billion in spending through 2016. Perhaps a more shocking statistic is that poor quality data costs US businesses $600 billion annually. With the volume of data available growing at an astonishing 40-60% a year and the stakes growing higher, millions of managerial and analytical jobs are being created. At the University of Alabama, MIS students are lucky to have an entire course that teaches students how design, implement, and analyze relational database management systems.
Using tools such as SQL and Visio, our class is learning how to manage data in a way that will add value to an organization. Our professor, Richard Doherty, has years of experience working for global companies, such as Diageo. Professor Doherty offers a real-world perspective on the concepts we learn in class by having us walk through scenarios businesses often face when it comes to database management. This is a good transition from MIS 295, where we learned about possibilities available to MIS professionals and project management skills. Now we are learning specifically how to satisfy the needs of companies and their exponentially growing data.
Currently, we are learning how databases are traditionally structured and the beginning stages of creating a relational database management system. For our assignments, we are challenged to use case studies to gather information about a system, categorize the entities in that system, and distinguish relationships between entities. This culminates in a diagram known as an Entity Relationship Diagram, abbreviated to ERD. ERDs are a strategic way to visualize how a system works and outlines the objectives of a database. Like the Data Flow Diagrams we learned to create in MIS 295, ERDs can be constructed at different levels of abstraction, ranging from general enterprise data models to more specific project data models. We have practiced constructing ERDs through the use of Visio to create professional-grade diagrams. As my classmates and I begin utilizing tools such as Visio and SQL, we are excited by the practical uses of these tools in our assignments and in real-world applications. It is clear to us that MIS 330 is a dynamic course that has adapted to meet the changes of this growing field of Big Data.
Written by: Julie O’Brien, MIS Junior