New Jersey Big Data Symposium


The 3rd Annual NJBDA symposium was held at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ on March 9, 2016. The symposium featured an array of speakers from different areas of “big data” and there were panels on Smart Cities, Big Data and the Financial Sector, and Big Data and Healthcare. Keynote speakers included AJ Bubb from Accenture who spoke about the Internet of Things and J. Pederson from Micro Strategies who spoke about Big Data. Faisal Khan, a data scientist at Aetna and an MBS instructor, also spoke about the application of analytics in the healthcare context on the healthcare panel and there were many other speakers at the event.

Faisal Khan, Data Scientist at Aetna and MBS Instructor spoke on the Big Data & Healthcare Panel

There were quite a few MBS students there to join in the networking and learn about the “hottest” topics and application areas of analytics and data science. There were some great take-aways from the symposium, and resources for students including data sets available (e.g., and others) and other information for student projects.

The best quote of the symposium came from Jason Cooper, VP and Chief Analytics Officer and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, when speaking about data processing and methodologies that can be applied to data. As he liked to say: “Tortured data will confess to anything.” Clearly, data science and analytics folks need to be careful what processes are applied to their data. He went on to say that he believes there are five V’s defining big data and analytics. In a 2001 report, Gartner defined big data as being about 3 V’s: Volume (“bigness”), Velocity (speed of data coming in or going out), and Variety (type, range and sources of data). Jason added two more V’s to that list: Veracity (how good is the data) and Value (does it add value to the business case).

What does this mean for students looking to enter the analytics field? Cooper emphasized that analytics professionals need the computing and statistics skills that the first three “V’s” require. Most importantly, however, he noted that business acumen and communication skills were of critical importance to addressing the last two “V’s” (Certainly something we at the MBS program take very seriously).