Where’s the Beef: Is Big Data Having a Real Impact on The Economy?

Panel Discussion
Friday, May 9, 2014 - 9:00 am

The past few years have seen ebbs and flows in excitement over “big data” and its successor terms, which cover several new data technologies as well as machine learning. What is the early evidence on concrete impact to companies from adopting these new data technologies? For example, have we seen firm-level increase in average productivity? Secondly, have these technologies penetrated the basic sectors of the economy and changed them in meaningful ways? In this panel, Professor Tambe (NYU) will present his econometric study of big data know-how and its impact on business value, which sheds light on the first question. Then we will hear how The Climate Corporation applied modern data technologies and machine learning to the most traditional sector in the economy, agriculture, and in the process built a business valued at $1B. Finally, we will hear how Premise Data is revolutionizing how governments around the world are collecting the vital signs of their economies, such as prices and food availability.

Engineering Partner
Google Ventures

Adam Ghobarah focuses on data technologies and machine learning. He looks for disruptive startups and guides Google Ventures’ portfolio companies in these areas. Over the past fifteen years, he has applied statistics, machine learning, and new data technologies to solve problems in public health, engineering, finance, and online advertising.

Prior to joining Google Ventures in 2012, Ghobarah was at Google for six years, leading a team of statisticians focused on building models for predicting advertiser behavior and on automated model building and validation. Prior to joining Google, Ghobarah worked at Mathsoft, which developed mathematical software tools for mechanical and civil engineers. Ghobarah received his Ph.D. in government statistics from the University of Texas at Austin and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, where he focused on the application of statistics to public health and authored several highly-cited papers.

Operations Vice President
The Climate Corporation

Tjarko Leifer leads The Climate Corporation’s operations and new markets groups. Prior to joining The Climate Corporation, Leifer was a managing director at Aon Corporation, the world’s leading risk advisor and insurance broker. Previously, Leifer helped successfully commercialize a new-to-the-world consumer financial product at FirstRex (formerly REX & Co.). He began his career at McKinsey & Company where he primarily served financial services clients. Leifer has a B.S. in industrial engineering from Brown University and an M.S. in management science and engineering from Stanford University.

CTO & Co-founder
Premise Data Corporation

Joe Reisinger is an engineer and data hacker exploring the intersection of econometrics and machine learning. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UT Austin and spent his academic career building natural language understanding systems at Google Research and IBM T.J. Watson. Prior to co-founding Premise, he was chief scientist at Metamarkets.

Stern School of Business, NYU

Prasanna Tambe is an assistant professor of information, operations, and management sciences at New York University Stern School of Business. His research focuses on the economics of IT labor and on how the diffusion of technical skills and know-how affect firm and regional performance. In recent papers, Tambe has studied the effects of offshoring on the demand for technical skills and how the flow of technical skills within the US economy affects productivity and growth through the diffusion of new IT innovations. His research has been published or is forthcoming in a number of academic journals including Management Science, Information Systems Research, Communications of the ACM, and Information Economics and Policy.