Splunk got me very interested a couple of months ago, too, since it has recently become extremely popular technology, no less due their recent extremely successful IPO and a 4B$ valuation. At the recent QCon London 2012 the talk on Splunk was so full that we hardly squeezed into the room, so much interest there was in it.
Originally, Splunk was devised for troubleshooting systems when something went wrong, i.e. for analysing logs. But since then it's powerful unix-like query language has been used to analyze all sorts of big data and it has now connectors for all popular data stores, from flat files to SQL databases.
Thirty years ago VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 brought a revolution to the analytics world. Maybe it's time for economists and managers to start learning unix command tools within the safe environment of Splunk, so that they'll be able to ride on the big data trend.
Starting in the fall of 2012, the University of Washington will be offering a certificate in Data Science. The program has two sections: one located in Seattle and the other online. The certificate consists of three separate courses each lasting approximately 3 months. Thus the program can be completed in 9 months, and the cost is around $3000.