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President’s View: Data is “Big” Business

By Anthony Russo

ON MARCH 16, 2017, the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) hosted the fourth Annual New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) Symposium at CIANJ member NJIT’s Campus Center in Newark, New Jersey. The NJBDA is a consortium of New Jersey institutions of higher education addressing the challenges posed by the deluge of “Big Data.”

Chaired by NJII Executive Director and Chief Scientist Dr. Munir Cochinwala, the conference focused on the theme, “Big Data Connects.” The symposium attracted more than 200 participants along with industry, government and academic leaders who joined together to discuss the facts, statistics, demographics, customer data and market intelligence that drives smart infrastructure, law enforcement and healthcare.

One of the keynote speakers was Katherine O’Neill, executive director of JumpStart New Jersey, one of the largest angel investment groups in the New Jersey/New York region. She described why early investment firms are doubling down on companies that have Big Data as the basis for their business model.

“Data is money,” explained O’Neill. “Data is a commodity that can be sold and resold, and the impact of Big Data is everywhere, from the Internet of Things (IOT), to cybersecurity, financial fraud, healthcare, medical diagnostics and insurance. Data analytics has the potential to fundamentally change the way companies will do business.”

IBM Worldwide Product Leader for Big Data Technologies Dirk deRoos, another keynote speaker at the conference, issued a wake-up call to attendees.

“Every company needs to be a tech company, and everybody needs to be tech literate,” explained deRoos. “Advances in cloud and analytics technologies, combined with the right organizational policies, can make self service analytics possible for most organizations. It’s about working smarter— with the right algorithms.”

NJII’s Healthcare Delivery Systems i-Lab is focused on using the power of computing and Big Data analytics to support new business and clinical practices that lead to more affordable, more accessible and higher-quality medical care.

“In one application, our team is deploying data analytic tools that allow for the reliable retrieval of an individual’s medical records from all current and prior healthcare providers to deliver a complete an accurate patient history,” explains NJII President and CEO, Dr. Donald H. Sebastian. “In another application, we are guiding physicians to adopt patient-specific, outcome-driven procedures that lead to improved health results with faster reimbursement from payers. In a third demonstration, we will be using natural language processing and machine learning to aid in the early identification of medical conditions— even when symptoms may seem vague or ambiguous in their indication.”

For example, technology-enhanced hardware, software and electronic health records (EHR) are used in almost all aspects of patient and medical care at CIANJ member Holy Name Medical Center.

“Our highly customizable health information system—called WebHIS— was self-developed by our Information Technology Department,” explains Holy Name Medical Center President and CEO Michael Maron. “WebHIS is instrumental in assisting physicians, nurses and other staff in advancing and expediting the delivery of patient care, transforming workflow and improving outcomes. WebHIS helps us to facilitate communication among caregivers and assists in streamlining our operations.”

The power of Big Data is a game-changer because it means that businesses will need to go beyond upgrading their hardware and software to achieve long-term success. Their challenge is to transform their operations to compete in digital environments.

According to Professor Rashmi Jain, chairman of Information Management and Business Analytics at CIANJ member Montclair State University’s Feliciano School of Business, here are some key measurements of the growing influence of data: 6 percent of total retail sales are done online, increasing at 17.5 percent annually; U.S. eCommerce sales were $263 billion in 2013, approximately 2 percent of GNP; and from 2013 to 2020, the digital universe will grow by a factor of 10, from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.

Is your company ready for the revolution?

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