One of the top priorities in training the next generation of big data analysts is ensuring they understand and interpret data in a way that works for businesses. Jigsaw Academy’s answer to this challenge is to target its online analytics training and certification program specifically to corporate executives and MBA students—people who (presumably) already understand business. Its programs join a growing list of academic and corporate efforts to build talent needed for analytics teams.
Headquartered in Bangalore, India, Jigsaw “aims to meet the growing demand for talent in the field of analytics by providing industry-relevant training and education to develop business-ready professionals,” says Gaurav Vohra, who co-founded the company with Sarita Digumarti in September 2010.
Each co-founder has more than a decade of analytics experience, which Vohra says opened their eyes to a disconnect between the campus and the real world.
“Having been in the analytics industry and hired and trained hundreds of people, we realized that there is a big gap between what is taught in academic institutes and the skills that are required at work,” he says. “We started Jigsaw to fill this gap and provide analytics education which is relevant to today’s work environment.”
Since launching its first online course in April 2011, Jigsaw has issued more than 1,000 certifications. Students have gone on to get analytics jobs at companies such as Infosys, HSBC, Genpact, Fractal Analytics, WNS Analytics, Citibank and HSBC.
While Jigsaw welcomes students from around the world, “nurturing analytic talent in India” is its primary mission. The site specifically targets corporations and MBA programs with on-site and virtual training programs.
“We have about 200 students enrolled at any time,” Vohra says. “We start a new batch every month, and each batch goes on for three months.”
Jigsaw offers two basic types of online instruction—video courses and instructor-led courses. (The site’s virtual class platform works on most mobile devices.)
The video courses give students the flexibility of viewing individual lessons whenever and how many times they want. Students complete assignments after each video that are reviewed by instructors, who provide feedback. Video students also can access a virtual lab where they can use an analytical tool and data sets for assignments.
Instructor-led courses start on a fixed date and students must log in to participate. Students can interact with the instructors and fellow students. As with the video courses, the instructor-led courses also include hands-on virtual lab work and feedback about completed assignments.
Jigsaw’s instructors include co-founders Vohra and Digumarti as well as several other analytics professionals with experience across a wide range of industries. This real-world experience, combined with a tool-agnostic approach, prepares students for a wide range of data analytics environments, Vohra says.
“IBM, SAS and other tool providers provide training that focuses more on the tool than on analytics,” he says. “Academic institutes typically provide courses which tend to be very theory oriented. They do not provide exposure to real case studies and business problems.”
Currently Jigsaw offers four courses: A Foundation Course in Analytics, Analytics with R, Retail Analytics Using SAS Language and Financial Analytics Using SAS Language.
The foundation course (which costs $900) runs for 10 weeks and includes 120 hours of class and lab time. The other three courses (costing $450 each) run for five weeks with varying levels of class and lab time.
Vohra says Jigsaw plans to launch a new course in April offering instruction on learning big data analytics using R and Hadoop.
“Our plan is to continue to grow our offerings, keep our curriculum up to date, and continue to provide industry relevant trainings,” he says.