US-headquartered Qlik Technologies Inc. (estb. 1993) is a leading data analytics company with global offices in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific regions. Partnering with corporates like TCS, Wipro, Accenture, and Capgemini, Qlik helps them integrate data analytics into their product offerings. Founded on the premise of democratising data analytics technologies, Qlik has forayed into academics to promote a data-literate world. Pankaj Muthe, Academic Program Manager – APAC, Qlik talks to Education World’s Dipta Joshi about the scope of Qlik’s academic programme and the slow but steady interest in pursuing data analytics as a career.
Q) Tell us about Qlik’s decision to foray into education.
A) Foraying into education was a natural progression from Qlik’s perspective as it aligns with Qlik’s vision to create a data-literate world. Qlik has been at the forefront of the Data Literacy movement for many years now and these days we are also seeing many publications, including technological research and management consulting firm, Gartner, promote data literacy. Gartner has mentioned that data literacy is the second language of business now. We are moving from gut-based decision-making to data-based decision-making, so it’s not just an option but a necessary requirement.
Data literacy is a much-needed skill in today’s world and everybody is dealing with data whether or not you are a computer engineer or not. Qlik’s global research has found that only 21 percent of the population between the ages 16 and 24 years is data literate. We addressed the gap by giving the academic community access to our in-house resources free of charge. More than 42,000 students worldwide have already signed up with us.
Q) What resources does the academic programme offer and is the access to free resources part of the program?
A) The academic programmeoffers a variety of resources including four structured online training pathways for the academic community that has been developed by us in-house. They are all professionally developed courses with videos, quizzes, take-away documents in the form of notes, etc. with students earning certifications and qualifications after clearing the exams at the end of the course. We also have a data literacy program that helps students earn a product-agnostic certification in data literacy or data analytics. The best part about the programme is that it’s completely free, with no charges at any stage, neither for the training, for the exam, nor for the certification.
Q) Tell us a little about how the academic programme works.
A) The duration of each of the pathways involves 18 to 20 hours of online training. It is a self-paced programme allowing the student to sign up even as s/he is studying or working elsewhere. We have a community-like platform that helps him clear any doubts. They can also chat with our Qlik experts who have worked on the curriculum. So, while there are no one-on-one interactions, it’s definitely quick with lots of resources to refer to.
Q) You mentioned that no prior technical know-how is necessary to sign up for the courses. Please elaborate.
A) The programme is practically meant for everyone because we want to democratise data analytics as a skill set and make it available to every student irrespective of their background. We have the Qlik Sense Business Analyst pathway, which is meant for students who may not have any sort of technical knowledge. Students from the arts or commerce stream who have no understanding of coding, structured query language (SQL), etc. could also take it up. We have many doctors and pharmacy students using the product and learning from the academic programme.
Q) Since when have you been operating in India and how many universities have you onboarded as yet? Do partner universities pay for the Qlik academic programme?
A) Let me address your second question first – there is no payment involved for the universities. Students and educators can apply individually so which in turn makes it free for the institution. We try to work with these students and professors directly rather than having an institutional kind of a tie-up.
We have been promoting the programme in India and the Asia Pacific region since 2016 and have a presence in more than 700 colleges and universities in India today. We have come a long way from the time when we were sending out emails to professors asking them to check out the academic programme. With the number of offerings growing in the last two to three years, we now have universities, colleges, students, and professors approaching us. We have agencies acting on behalf of the government, like the Chennai-based ICT academy approaching us and partnering with us to promote the programme in their partner colleges. We have also been working alongside NASSCOM since it is working on ten emerging technologies with data analytics being one of them. A lot of colleges and universities are getting in touch with us, knowing that the academic programme has a great offering and is free of charge. I think that is our USP.
Q) Do you see data analytics becoming a preferred career choice amongst Indian students?
A) While Indian students are aware of data analytics’ potential as a subject and wish to have data analytics as an essential skill, its popularity as a career choice is at par with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing. In fact, data analytics remains the base for most technologies and thus a wider appreciation for data analytics is already the need of the hour. Students should not be looking at data analytics simply as a subject they wish to choose, but as a subject that is fundamental to moving ahead in their careers. I would say data analytics has picked up, especially because India happens to be the hub supplying technologists to the rest of the world.
While data analytics can be looked at in isolation and doesn’t necessarily have to be combined with other technologies, even when combined (with other technologies), the marriage is perfect. So, we have universities offering specialised degrees like AI and data analytics, and therefore, data analytics as a subject would be an important part of many other courses and faculties.
Q) What is the next step for the academic program here in India?
A) We are already witnessing growing interest from privateeducational institutions and are now hoping to take the study of data analytics to another level. A lot of the government agencies and departments, including the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), are interested in data analytics as a subject and appreciate the technology. We believe we need to tie up with such government agencies because if the mandate comes from the government or an agency like the AICTE the programme will reach out to more students who will then be able to leverage the free analytics resources.
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