Watching Mad Men, you’d guess that great advertising starts with all-nighters, where creatives dredge their aspirations and disappointments for moments of clarity. Sure, the Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons could draw from studies and focus groups. But how often have you seen these characters actually read them? In advertising’s golden age, the final product was seemingly more art than science, an outlet for would-be novelists and painters to romanticize the trappings of Lucky Strikes and Jaguars.
Maybe that’s why the cast was so terrified of the IBM 360 this past season. They could see the future, where placement and message would be driven by constellations formed by billions of data bits. These days, they call it big data…and it has become big business. Take some data sets, slice-and-dice them according to various models, and voila! Suddenly, you can identify patterns and trends – if you know how to decipher them, that is. Yes, science can deliver data any way you want. But asking questions, interpreting results, and formulating strategies to capitalize on findings…well, that’s still an art.
Alas, you can’t teach imagination and ingenuity. But you can sure transmit the basics and how (and where) to apply them. This month, you’ll find a series of big data-themed MOOCs. To learn the basics, you can enroll in the University of Texas’ “Foundations of Data Analysis,” which provides an undergraduate grounding in statistics coupled with modeling basics. From there, the Eindhoven University of Technology takes it a step further with “Process Mining: Data Science in Action,” taught by Wil van der Aalst, one of the most cited scholars in information technology. And if you’re wondering where to apply this information, consider taking “An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing.” This multi-disciplinary course focuses on how the consumer brain works – and what drives purchasing decisions.
Looking to launch a business? Consider the first part of the University of Rochester’s “Technology Commercialization: Setting Up Your Idea Filtering System,” designed to help would-be entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls inherent to startups requiring longer incubation. If you’re drawn to social enterprise, take a look at “Financial Sustainability: The Numbers Side of the Enterprise,” where you’ll learn the accounting side of scaling your operation. And if you’re wondering if you should even start a business, check out Jeroen van den Hoven’s “Responsible Innovation,” which explores the disruptive side of progress – and how entrepreneurs can ease the worst effects of innovation.
Want to learn more about these courses – and many more? Click on the links below, where you can also enroll in these courses.