Innovation in the Backyard―Big Data, Amherst & MassMutual

  2 m, 7 s
Technology has always driven business, which is why I like this great profile of our friends at the MassMutual Data Science unit on It shows how a finance company embraces big thinkers and Big Data to better reach potential customers.
The MassMutual Financial Group just opened a new laboratory workspace in Amherst, not too far from our office there, where the Data Science unit will work on a number of what they call “fun projects.” Like the gracious new neighbors they are, they invited us to join the party.
Big Data is Exploding
This was cool on multiple fronts, first it was cool to see another high tech operation opening offices in Amherst. Second, it was great to see how much penetration “big data” is getting in corporate America. To see such a large (over 20 people), single purpose group set up in our backyard is pretty exciting.  I had a chance to chat with Sears Merrit who runs the data science group and is pushing as hard as he can to fill open slots for data scientists, and he commented on how competitive it is for qualified candidates. Clearly, we are living in one of the fastest growing tech fields out there.
Better Insurance with Better Analytics
For MassMutual, this takes shape in an interesting way, especially since this technology isn’t often used in insurance. Nothing against Mass Mutual, but the insurance industry is not known for trailblazing when it comes to adopting new technologies. But it looks like MassMutual has seen the light, and is using Big Data to figure out who their most likely potential customers are, as well as determining a number of metrics that regulate their need for insurance products. It can also help them identify potential fraudsters who are seeking insurance, hoping to scam the company.
Innovation in the Back Yard
The other cool piece of the evening was meeting the folks running the UMass Center for Data Science. UMass set up a concentration for Data Science with the computer science school.  It’s one of those rare times when the provider (UMass) and the buyer (companies doing Data Science work) had the same thought and are pulling in the same direction.  Additionally, it was cool to chat with Andrew McCallum, who runs the data science program, and hear about the research that’s going on in our field with things like fast dependency parsers and deep learning.  All in all, it was surprising to see how much neat stuff is happening in my own back yard.
Categories: Events