You have the data – but can you use it to create value?

Breaking down the wall between business and data

The first module of the Executive Master Class in “Creating business value with big data” kicked off on 23 October with the aim of breaking down the wall between business and data. “We apply different big data techniques to various case studies within the financial sector,” comments Philippe Baecke, Professor of Marketing.

This financial focus is hardly surprising, given that the request to run the Master Class came from Johan Kestens, Head of Information Technology Services at ING: “All banks and insurance companies have massive amounts of data. We also have the people who can analyse that data. However, there is a huge need for executives who are capable of understanding data analysis techniques and translating the data into insights, then using those insights for business actions and embedding them in the corporate culture. This Executive Master Class helps us to address this need.” The issue of big data is important in both the private and the public sector, and each individual sector has its own specific topics of concern. The underlying trend is the same, however: how can you bring together business expertise, IT developments and modern mathematical knowledge to convert big data into business value?

Visiting companies in Silicon Valley

“Banking and insurance are sectors that have already reached a certain maturity in terms of their big data analysis and management capabilities,” adds Professor Baecke. “During this Executive Master Class we apply a wide range of analytical techniques to typical financial services applications, such as marketing, fraud detection and credit risk modelling. The Master Class is held at our Brussels, Ghent and Leuven campuses, and to top it all off there will be a series of company visits to Silicon Valley, which is truly the Mecca of ‘big data’ thanks to companies like Google. We plan to extend the scope of future master classes beyond financial services into other sectors, such as retail and telecoms.”

Four modules

Participants in this Executive Master Class will work their way through four steps, which will provide them with the skills to generate business value with big data:

  • How do we translate business reality into an analytical model? (modelling)
  • What insights can we gain? (discovering)
  • How do we apply those insights to our business processes? (operationalising)
  • What lessons can we learn from this and how do we incorporate these into our culture? (cultivating) 

Benefits realisation framework

The structure of this Master Class is based on the benefits realisation framework that Professor Stijn Viaene developed last year in his paper “Data scientists aren’t domain experts”: “Data scientists think in patterns, while domain experts reach decisions in a very different – sometimes unconscious – way. The framework provides a structure to enable the participants to align the underlying ‘conversation logistics’ more effectively, and thus create more value for their company.”


The first module of this Master Class got under way on 23 October, with participants from companies including ING, KBC, Ageas, AG Insurance and Euroclear. Have we piqued your interest enough to make you want to sign up for the second module (27-29 November)? No problem – just send an e-mail to Kenne D’Hoker:  

Too long? Aligning business and IT management is also the theme of a short six-day programme on Mastering IT Management. The next session starts on 27 April 2015.