Data Analytics

Inspired by the vision of a brighter future for our community, the Genesis Group last month launched the Mohawk Valley Data Analytics Task Force, a group focused on helping existing enterprises and new ventures here use Information Age techniques to grow and prosper.

Just what exactly is data analytics and why is it important to act? In a nutshell, data analytics is the collection, organization and analysis of large volumes of information. Trained data analysts enable organizations to use that data to quantitatively identify more efficient means of production, meet the needs of a changing customer base and/or fulfill a service need.

Writing Tomorrow's Stories....TODAY!”

Article # 1

Inspired by a nearly two-decade old dream and driven by a shared sense of purpose, the Genesis Group has brought together some of the region’s leaders to imagine the Mohawk Valley’s bright future.

In this first in a series of reports we’ll be offering a fresh way of thinking about some of the region’s most challenging issues and how we can bring our combined talents and resources to bear on them in the decades ahead.

Our goal isn’t to endorse a single solution to these complex issues but rather to stimulate our thinking about how a unified, regional approach can help write tomorrow’s success stories.

Nearly 20 years ago, the late Joseph R. Carucci envisioned the Genesis Group, an organization tasked with bringing together the area’s leaders and organizations to focus on the region’s needs.

Over the next few months, Genesis will embrace that vision on topics ranging from Economic Development to Housing, Health and Wellness, Agriculture to Education.

We call these reports “Writing Tomorrow’s Stories Today.”   We are pleased to launch this new series following a successful Community Forum Series in which Genesis took aim at heightening the community's awareness on pertinent issues and opportunities.

The Genesis Group acknowledges previous studies and visionary work that have been done over the years in areas as far afield as nanotechnology, cyber-security, defense and “product production”.  Some of them have produced some valuable data and it's our goal to draw information from them. 

Our efforts will focus and how to write more of those success stories. For example, agriculture is a leading component of the Mohawk Valley’s economy, even as the picture evolves from small family-owned farms to larger operations. At the same time, there’s also a renewed sense of support for the industry from schools and government agencies.

We’ll imagine a future today where innovation centers, investor funds and a robust regional marketing approach might help ensure a healthy future for family farms and the products our farmers grow, while at the same time creating more career opportunities here.

Throughout its nearly 20-year history, the Genesis Group has worked collaboratively to envision and create a better future for the Mohawk Valley. We do this by uniting leaders and opinion shapers who would not ordinarily investigate, discuss or act on community issues together. We help create the contacts, synergy, attitude, and, when appropriate, the impetus to make this happen.

For a group of Genesis Group volunteers, this forward-thinking approach has been a journey of exploration and excitement for our shared future. We hope you’ll join us as we write tomorrow’s stories today. Look for future columns in the coming weeks and months, and we invite you to send your thoughts via email to:

The article was written by John Dye, Genesis Group Volunteer & Project Co-Chair

Article # 2

In this second in a series of reports, The Genesis Group offers a fresh way of thinking about some of the region’s most challenging issues and how we can collectively bring our combined talents and resources to bear on them. Today, we look at Economic Development. Our goal is to stimulate thinking about how a unified, regional approach can help “Write Tomorrow’s Stories.....Today.”

Have you wondered how some companies have made business decisions to open another store/hotel or restaurant in close proximity? How about hospitals that can determine how many beds a facility requires to accommodate in-patient needs? One of my favorites is the game of baseball. Decisions that are made on how to field players to defend against a batter have changed the game.

All those decisions are based on DATA. The key to making critical decisions in healthcare, education, insurance, banking, airline/ transportation, agriculture and other businesses and industries are largely dependent on data providing trends, behaviors and information.  Today many of these industries are using data to train and educate their teams, creating a new field of Data Analytics and Decision Science, often referred to as “Quantitative Reasoning” or “Big Data”.

So how can the Mohawk Valley embrace this significant transformation of information and data? There is much work already being done through a newly created Data Analytics/Decision Science Consortium that includes Mohawk Valley Community College, Utica College and SUNY POLY, as well as businesses such as BNY Mellon, Utica First Insurance and Indium Corporation.

Mohawk Valley EDGE has done some good work with this initiative by providing support, guidance and direction. Under the leadership of Randy VanWagoner and Franca Armstrong, MVCC has been one pioneer in launching this consortium with BNY Mellon and has been a partner in facilitating meetings and driving outcomes.

MVCC, Utica College and SUNY POLY have established course work in Data Analytics/Decision Science to provide students with the needed tools and education for jobs at local businesses and hospitals.

The educational piece of this economic development puzzle is taking shape, but we need continued and expanded support from local business and industry leaders. With greater local support we can gain additional traction in retaining talented students positioned for new and futuristic jobs in Data Analytics and Decision Science.

Today, for example, BNY Mellon has an impressive number of talented data analysts in its Central New York Innovation Center who use data analytics and predictive modeling to improve operations processes and functions, and make them more efficient, which improves the businesses' productivity. The data analytics team in the Oriskany operations center is helping the company transform how it delivers investment solutions and serve its clients.

Here is a vision for Data Analytics/Decision Science: Create a true “Regional Center of Excellence” (RCOE) for data analytics and decision science. A successful RCOE will attract students from around the country who see the importance and value in having this accreditation and can position themselves for successful careers here. This creates opportunities for local companies, both large and small, to either expand their labor pool or attract companies to move jobs to the Mohawk Valley.

We need our business and industry leaders to support this consortium, unify a regional strategy to capitalize on a transformational economic opportunity and be recognized as a Regional Center of Excellence for Data Analytics/Decision Science.  The opportunity to do this and write tomorrow’s stories is here today.

Francis Behlmer retired from the Bank of New Mellon in July 2018 after for 39 years with the company. He was Executive Vice President, Head of Global Operations & Treasury Services Operations, and Central New York Regional Executive and based in Oriskany. He serves as a “Volunteer Consultant” for The Genesis Group.

Article # 3

Indian author Shiv Khera once said that “positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.” During the past several years, our community has changed the way it thinks which has yielded us more positive results.

All you need to do is look around and see that by staying the course and remaining positive, good things continue to happen in the Mohawk Valley region.

Officials in government and economics, along with business, academia and community leaders – are all working together to move the region forward.

For example, in Rome the city was named a recipient of $10 million dollars in state funding to help revitalize and develop its downtown area.

Other exciting projects include the Woodhaven-Riverwalk, Griffiss Business & Technology Park B240 Site, and great potential for the development of several Drone programs, just to name a few.

In Herkimer County, the Industrial Development Agency - (IDA) is running out of available space. There has been a huge investment at the Frankfort Business Park – also known as the Pumpkin Patch. With companies like Heidelberg Bakery and Tractor Supply – which is getting ready to open, the park will be vibrant along with many new jobs. The IDA is also working to bring new business to other sites in the county.

In Utica, the city continues to receive investment from local and out of town developers. Projects like a new Home 2 Suites Hotel and Tavolo's Restaurant in north Utica, the former GE building on Bleecker St., new housing projects from the downtown area to East Utica, and a new grocery store downtown. In addition, the Mohawk Valley Health System is moving forward with its plans to build a new Medical Campus in the downtown area.

The Marcy Nanocenter site continues to receive significant investment in its infrastructure with hopes of landing an end-user, one who will hopefully (and finally) bring us a semiconductor fabrication facility. Danfoss Silicon Power is ramping up its activity and getting ready for its next phase in the first quarter of 2019. More production, more jobs!"  We're more than ready for this to happen – we just need to stay the course!

The Town of New Hartford is always welcoming new retail options, continuously bringing commerce into the region. The Utica Comets, Utica College Pioneers and the new Utica City Foot Ball Club are providing high-energy events and excitement at the Utica Auditorium which is positively enhancing our quality of life.

I could go on and on.....but I think you see a pattern here. Good planning, people working together, investments being made....and the community is benefiting from it.

In the past few years, our community has re-established a sense of pride which gets  noticed by visitors, newcomers and developers looking for investment opportunities.

More and more, I hear from people that our quality of life is “second to none.” That's because we have people who care about this community. Our population is diverse and we're known for great food, rich neighborhoods, history and tradition.

We have the Boilermaker Road Race – our region's signature event! We have great colleges with more than 20,000 college students. And yes, I say it all the time – Healthcare, Education, Arts & Culture, Agriculture and Tourism...are billion dollar industries employing thousands of people. We've got something really good here – we need to stay the course – because it's only going to get better!

One way that I believe we can get better is through a new initiative recently launched by The Genesis Group. It's called “Writing Tomorrow's Stories....TODAY!

Through this program, The Genesis Group will challenge the community to look to the future. What will our cities, towns and villages look like in 5, 7 and 10 years from now?  This community has seen its share of studies and plans. The next step is to draw information from these plans and not just talk the talk, but actually make things happen!

The Genesis Group will continue to unite Business and Community Leaders who are working to advance regional Economic, Social and Cultural interests, and to foster unity and cooperation. Our vision is to be a trusted advocate and partner for regional growth, development, education, innovation and synergy.

For 2019, The Genesis Group is already planning (community) projects, events and activities. We'll continue to focus on the “community's agenda” and the needs of the region.... from Old Forge to Cooperstown and Oneida to Little Falls.  With our neighboring counties, residents and businesses....The Genesis Group will continue to work with its partners, sponsors and volunteers to offer a better quality of life for the people who live and work here in the Mohawk Valley.

We will stay the course because our positive action combined with our positive thinking, will bring us more positive results and success!

Raymond J Durso, Jr., is the Executive Director of The Genesis Group

Article # 4

“Eighty-five percent of the jobs that today’s students will do in 2030 don’t exist yet, the Institute for the Future has predicted,” the PBS News Hour recently reported. Although similar projections are widespread, it bears keeping in mind as the Mohawk Valley prepares for a bold, innovative future.

Many resources are devoted to preparing our students for such a future, yet we are confronted with roadblocks, including the cost of post-secondary tuition, reluctance of students and parents to consider careers not requiring traditional bachelor’s degrees, the ever-increasing cost of K-12 public education and employers who report today’s job candidates lack skills needed to succeed. Overlapping and contradictory levels of regulation, tax policy and state and federal law lead to a circle of blame between parents, employers and taxpayers.

The Mohawk Valley’s education system is the envy of other communities vying for top students needed to expand our economic base and retain our best talent. Not every region across the country can offer such vibrant K-12 districts and a network of technical, public and private colleges, not to mention Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES programs individual districts would be hard-pressed to offer on their own.

The private sector is stepping up with job shadowing, apprenticeships and internships. More important, many employers are at the forefront of technological innovations that bode well for economic growth. (Among many non-profits offering similar programs, The Genesis Group annually hosts thousands of high school students to explore career opportunities through its Career, College and Life Ready programs.)

Still, there’s a sense we can do better, putting existing resources to more effective use. We start with two statistics that show our greatest challenges and opportunities: There are more than 50,000 students attending our K-12 schools annually. More than 20,000 students are enrolled in at least 10 institutions of higher education in our three-county region.

We have no greater responsibility than to prepare them for a future that starts today. Among ideas worth considering, we offer these:

Listening. Sounds simple, but it’s critical to listen to students, parents and other stakeholders about how education can impact their lives, how programs can best serve them and share that information with the wider community.

Integrative learning: It helps students make real-life connections across studies, rather than isolate learning in subject silos. It’s happening in districts here, but parents should be encouraged to ask how the concept is embraced in their schools.

Asset mapping: It helps communities gather information about resources available to address needs, inventory those assets and present them on a map. It can help students, parents and employers easily access information about exciting programs, help newcomers considering relocating here to see what’s available and identify areas of need for further development.

Collective impact: It’s a focused way of sharing information and resources to meet challenges while avoiding repetition. Looked at regionally, we can encourage the further sharing of innovative programs across district boundaries and offer learning opportunities not otherwise available.

Freedom to innovate: Let’s replace “teaching for the test” with life-long learning and make the Mohawk Valley a test case for working with state and federal governments to lessen regulations that discourage experimentation. Let’s involve employers more directly in the educational process and job retraining and encourage private-public-non-profit means of funding innovation and reducing the cost of post-secondary education.

This isn’t to suggest such efforts are not underway, but that we have the opportunity and obligation to explore opportunities to further reap the promise of tomorrow by writing Tomorrow’s Stories Today.

Jamie Sitera is Principal of Academic and Related Services at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. She serves as a Volunteer on the Genesis Group Regional Education Committee.

Article # 5

Agriculture is the Mohawk Valley’s leading industry and the opportunity to secure its place in the region’s economic future is vital for all our futures.

There were about 1,600 fewer farms in New York in 2016 than in 2006, according to the state, and the dairy industry has been particularly hard hit.  Overproduction continues to hold down prices making it increasingly for small, family-run farms to stay viable.

But opportunities exist to transition some of our dairy farms to livestock, produce and viticulture operations. In addition to their dawn-to-dusk chores, surviving farmers will not only grow food and meat, but also own the processing and marketing of their products.

Hop production, raising alpacas for wool, and dairy goats are just a few examples of new markets for area farmers.

These are some of the encouraging signs on the road to sustain and diversify the more than 500 family farms in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties and the agricultural-dependent businesses they support.

Folks want to know where their food comes from. The “locovore” movement is taking root here as consumers are buying locally produced, anti-biotic free food rather than having it shipped at great distance. Farmers’ markets are having an impact at the same time restaurants and grocery stores are catering to that interest by featuring locally grown food. And let’s not forget farm-to-school programs like Waterville’s well recognized efforts to expand the use of locally grown products in school food programs. Consumers also can participate in subscriber-based programs in which farmers deliver a variety of seasonal products on a regular basis.

At the same time, we will be seeing a continued push in agricultural science and technology to fuel ongoing advancement in safe, efficient food production. Things like drones, robotic milk machines and automated tractors and combines will become commonplace on the farm.

To thrive in this changing market place with its dependence on technology will require a whole new set of skills and abilities outside of the farm.

Students from non-agricultural backgrounds are showing an interest in farming and its related industries as great career opportunities. We need to encourage innovative efforts like the Vernon-Verona-Sherill School District’s planned $1.5 million agri-science facility that will give students hands-on experience in raising cows, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens and also complements their award-winning maple syrup production. And we should support regional programs like Future Farmers of America to offer similar opportunities in school districts lacking the resources and/or number of interested students to do it on their own.

Oneida County’s Dairy Farmer Sustainability Action Plan to assist farmers can be a model for a wider, three-county approach to help farmers throughout the Mohawk Valley to navigate needed public policy changes to preserve family farms, protect farm land, encourage life-long learning for farmers, develop public-private financial assistance for those who want to get into farming and help farmers to cooperatively market their products on a larger scale.

We sometimes fail to make the connection between the plight of individual farmers and the area’s economy, but it’s important to understand that a thriving agriculture industry will continue to be a mainstay of our area’s economy and help write tomorrow’s success stories today.

About the Author – Richard “Dick” Presky is a Genesis Group Trustee

Article # 6

Healthcare is a billion-dollar enterprise in the Mohawk Valley employing thousands of people and positively impacting the local economy. It is also a significant element in the  overall “quality of life” our citizens enjoy.  Our area is home to seven hospitals: Oneida Healthcare, Community Memorial in Hamilton, Little Falls Hospital, Rome Memorial Hospital and the Mohawk Valley Health System – which runs St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Faxton and St. Luke’s Hospital.

Hospital stays, medical tests and procedures, and prescription costs are all spiraling upward and insurance plans are becoming more complex.  It's therefore important to ask, two inter-related questions: “What is the future of the healthcare enterprise?” and “How can the Mohawk Valley use resources and techniques available today or on the horizon to help shape that future both locally and nationally to best serve the interests of our residents ?”

Locally, we're all aware of Mohawk Valley Health System's plans to create a medical campus in downtown Utica.  This approach enables MVHS to have a “clean sheet of paper” for employing and integrating state-of-the art equipment and facilities to offer efficient care, including cutting edge techniques and procedures. It also enhances the region’s ability to recruit the best and brightest medical professionals in their field of specialization, be they physicians, nurses, technicians or administrative and logistics staff.

Other area hospitals are also preparing for the future and have taken steps to advance their quality of service while maintaining financially stability.  Rome Memorial Hospital has created an alliance with St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse and Little Falls Hospital has merged with Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown.

We should also applaud the work being done at The Masonic Medical Research Institute in Utica under the direction of Dr. Maria Kontaridis. The Institute’s vision is to build scientific teams that can combine molecular biology, chemistry, computation, technology and engineering to better and more quickly understand and decipher the causes of disease.  This new model will seek collaboration, both within the Institute and worldwide, in predicting and combating disease. We are fortunate to have them call our region home as they help write tomorrow’s medical stories today.

On a national level, Asha Saxena, founder of Future Technologies, sees these healthcare changes in the future:

Preventive medicine will soar: As information from electronic medical records becomes available in the cloud, health care tasks are moving online. And the digitalization of diagnoses has implications for predictive and preventive medicine.

Health care will go from general to personal: The "Internet of Things" will connect devices that can support predictive medicine and products that link a patient’s wellness to her lifestyle will go from luxury to necessity. Entrepreneurs using more accessible data and smart devices are uniquely positioned to connect this new technology to the patient experience.  So, focus on building a good base of knowledge centered around data, analytics and tech.

Doctors will have access to more data: Physicians are already using computers and other high-tech devices and the use of these devices is improving health care. As data becomes more readily available, extensive and personalized, it will revolutionize the way doctors diagnose disease and treat patients.

The Genesis Group has assembled a Regional Healthcare Coalition (RHC) to help connect, empower and leverage our many healthcare experts as they design, integrate and implement next generation technologies, techniques and procedures.  That same RHC is actively building bridges that can assist local school districts in establishing and integrating innovative health & wellness programs for our next generation.

We're excited by how the healthcare of tomorrow is being written, or could be written today, in the Mohawk Valley.  

Peter Lennon is a Retired General, US Army and a Genesis Group Volunteer

Article # 7

The future Housing needs of the Mohawk Valley will have to reflect the changing life style of the 21st  Century and the changing economy of our region.

The first step in providing future housing needs is to assess the present housing inventory including types of housing, locations, structural conditions and operational technology. Also, existing housing studies and surveys should be reviewed. One recent housing study was started in 2013 by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. entitled Vision 20/20 recommended uniform tax exemptions and agency benefits, standardization of zoning terms and procedures, shorten process timelines, and the creation of digital maps showing housing inventories, land availability and current zoning.

An inventory of all current local, county, state and Federal housing programs and agencies should be collected into a single resource. This resource should also include programs of private and non-profit groups. This resource will illustrate the numerous and diverse programs available to develop new housing. Examples include energy programs from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Federal HOME Investment Partnership Program for non-profit agencies, Federal and State Tax Credit Programs for Historic Preservation, local funding through the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), the Housing Action Committee (Zombie Properties) and personal guidance through the Home Ownership Center (Neighborhood Works).

The future housing inventory will require a greater diversity in housing types than we currently have available. This will include: entry, affordable, loft, single-unit, duplex, student, artist, over night, short stay, independent living, assisted living, and tourist types. Just providing tourist housing illustrates the need for diversity which includes four season designs, camps, cabins, cottages, overnight, longer stay, and waterfront units. We should not forget to preserve the great historic and architecturally significant residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and transportation buildings that reflect who we are.

Housing is an important component in developing a stable neighborhood. But housing should be integrated into additional neighborhood issues such as education, workforce training, healthy diets, faith based initiatives and cultural interests. Future neighborhoods and housing will be greatly affected by the changes in transportation with the development of self driving vehicles, point to point delivery services and vehicle on demand services.

Future housing development will require the integration of new technologies into our existing and new buildings. These technologies include new building materials, new construction tooling, LED lighting, clean energies, and the establishment of micro-energy districts ( off major grid). Recently, Governor Cuomo announced a goal of the state being 100% clean power by 2040 and encouraged communities to work with SUNY ESF to meet this goal. Our region currently has been active in green initiatives through Rust-to-Green and the Oneida-Herkimer Community Foundation, so our region could form a new partnership with SUNY ESF to lead the state and country in being 100% clean energy.

The housing industry will be a major job producer for new construction, rehabilitation, restoration, and daily building operations. With new materials, tooling, 3-D printing, and technical advancements, training will be required to provide a future workforce in the trades field. An expanded partnership will be required with trade unions, contractors, high schools, BOCES and regional colleges to provide education/training for regional growth. Innovative application of programs and curriculum such as Youth Build, trade curriculum, trade union apprenticeships and construction internships will provide the required workforce for our new economy.

Housing availability and costs are a major factor in growing a new economy. The cost of  housing and land in the Mohawk Valley is very competitive in comparison to several high-tech growth regions. Housing costs are so high in the Silicon Valley that companies located there are now expanding in other western cities. These companies should consider expanding here in the Mohawk Valley where our four season climate, low cost housing, technology education resources, plentiful water resources and great quality of life can help their company expand. The same is true for the New York City region (which is known as Silicon Valley-East) where there are more than 7600 technology companies. We should encourage these companies to expand here where we can provide the needed workforce and quality housing at an affordable cost.

To develop the future housing needs for the new economy, we should develop an Innovation Network Center that could include a partnership of current groups that have helped define our new economy. This network could address linking the following topics with action plans: housing / neighborhoods / connectivity / transportation.

The Genesis Group has developed a series of articles called Tomorrow’s Stories Today. Housing for our future economy is one topic in this series. This series has included using previous studies to create new successes, using data analytics/decision science to create a “Regional Center of Excellence”, expanding our current education delivery system  to be even more creative and innovative with more partnerships, explaining the expansion and changing delivery system of regional healthcare, and describing the growth and new opportunities in our agricultural industry.

Written by Professor Frank Przybycien who is also a long-time Genesis Group Trustee

Article # 8

Positive transformational change occurs when we ask the right questions and generate actionable information from the vast amounts of data available at our fingertips.

As the Genesis Group has learned from its recent series of essays called Writing Tomorrow’s Stories Today, crafting those right questions is essential to plotting the proper azimuth for our region.

Our essays were the second step in a journey that began last fall with brainstorming sessions involving nearly 100 volunteers and area leaders/influencers who examined how Genesis could best sustain its dual mission of uniting business and community leaders and synergizing efforts to propel the Mohawk Valley into the future.

The volunteers shared a keen interest in exploring the area’s success stories and wondered how underlying approaches could be more deeply applied throughout the region.

In the past six months Tomorrow’s Stories have explored topics foundational to the area’s future and have been written by Genesis volunteers from divergent walks of life. The project has highlighted the need for collaborative approaches as we look to what lies ahead in the next five years and beyond.

Peter Lennon, a retired U.S. Army major general and author of our essay on health and wellness, characterized the many commonalities across our essays as a “network of common themes and connective tissue.”

One of those common themes was BIG DATA. The study of big data, or data analytics, kicked off the Tomorrow Stories series when author Frank Behlmer explored big data’s practical application in business, industry, community service and education. He called for the creation of a Regional Center Of Excellence (RCOE) for data analytics for the Mohawk Valley.

By joining efforts already under way at area colleges and universities and expanding the study of big data collection and analysis, the area could not only create and train a pool of local students equipped to meet the demand for future jobs, but also arm area businesses, industries, policy makers, and service providers with the informed analysis needed to innovate and succeed in the economic and social ecosystem of the decades ahead.

Our essays, and the work that went into them, have inspired Genesis to chart a more action-oriented, project-based course. Today, we’re excited to share news about a series of community round tables designed to help shape the critical questions, spark the creative dialogue, and formulate the structured framework necessary for action and sustained innovation.

The round table series will be called Mohawk Valley Tomorrow, with initial topics being those addressed in our essays: economic development, housing, agriculture, education and health and wellness.  The events will provide an opportunity to learn what’s working in those fields and ask questions integral to future success for both your enterprise and the region overall.

Looked at in another way, we’ll be exploring how the use of data and innovation can unlock and widen the doors to the Mohawk Valley’s future. An example could be the RCOE-inspired use of data to study agricultural trends, changing weather patterns, and generational change in family farming in the Mohawk Valley. The result could be databased-transformation of how locally produced products from the area’s leading enterprise are identified, marketed and distributed to an evolving population.

We’ll examine similar approaches during future round tables, with the underlying recognition that the area is stronger when it assumes a regional approach, sharing resources, talents and people power.

We want to thank all those who participated in the brainstorming sessions and the Tomorrow Stories authors. Their insight and enthusiasm have helped transform how we view the talents, resources and opportunities of the region.

The round tables take their inspiration from the founder of Genesis, the late Joseph R. Carucci, whose vision was to promote and sustain a shared sense of purpose in imagining and fostering a bright future for the Mohawk Valley. Look for program details soon. We hope you’ll join us in that continuing adventure.

John Dye, a retired journalist, is a Genesis Group volunteer and co-chair of the Writing Tomorrow’s Stories Today project.

Article # 9


Inspired by the vision of a brighter future for our community, the Genesis Group last month launched the Mohawk Valley Data Analytics Task Force, a group focused on helping existing enterprises and new ventures here use Information Age techniques to grow and prosper.

Given the positive reaction and encouragement the initiative received, we wanted to give you an update on efforts to develop the expertise and workforce necessary to turn this transformative idea into a reality. Three things have stood out in our organizational work to date:

  • The need grows daily for the capability to understand how large amounts of information – what’s often called Big Data – can be utilized to help local start-ups, established businesses and non-profits all thrive.
  • The demand for skilled data practitioners exceeds the local supply.
  • There’s broad acceptance that a disciplined, but flexible strategy is necessary to make data analytics part of Mohawk Valley’s success story.

Just what exactly is data analytics and why is it important to act?

In a nutshell, data analytics is the collection, organization and analysis of large volumes of information. Trained data analysts enable organizations to use that data to quantitatively identify more efficient means of production, meet the needs of a changing customer base and/or fulfill a service need.

Sounds easy, but it’s challenging. Organizations constantly gather massive amounts of data on the production process, the field environment and customer demographics. They track customer trends and interests. 

But connecting the dots – extracting the information, translating it into a high-fidelity picture and then making informed decisions and process adjustments is a skill that will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

Using a sports metaphor, the most obvious answer to the question of how to win the Indy 500 is to drive faster than everyone else, but these days hundreds of sensors track everything from the race car’s engine and transmission to the driver’s split-second decisions on when to shift, brake the car or push the pedal to the floor.  Arming the driver and pit crew with the right information – analyzing the data and making the right decisions based on that data -- can make the difference between winning and losing.

In a competitive marketplace, building a reputation for our area as a center of data analytics excellence meets a critical demand, enhances the community’s attractiveness to entrepreneurs looking to expand and offers hope to talented young students in search of career opportunities in their own hometowns.

 Phase 2 of our project will bring community leaders and data science experts together to craft an action plan to train data analytic practitioners while maintaining cutting-edge data analysis practices and

techniques.  In the process, we’ll assist regional businesses, industries and community service providers to better able attract, integrate, and retain talented workers.

To ensure this phase is properly focused and organized, we’ll be undertaking a little data analysis of our own. We’ll be performing two surveys.

One survey will assess the breadth and depth of data analytics classes available at area colleges and universities, enrollment trends and whether associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are available in data-related fields, as well the availability of non-degree training options for mid-career workers.

We’ll also survey area employers. We’ll ask for estimates for the demand for data analytical skills and how to better meet the local demand. We’ll ask if the task force can facilitate a co-operative approach to enriching our collective data skill set and how we can best work together to build the area’s reputation as a center for data science excellence.

Join us in helping to establish the Mohawk Valley as a data analytics regional center of excellence and make a critical addition to the area’s economic development toolbox.

By Frank Behlmer and Franca Armstrong
Co-chairs, Mohawk Valley Data Analytics Task Force, an inititive of The Genesis Group

The Genesis Group is a civic organization that unites Business and Community Leaders working to
advance regional economic, social and cultural interests, and to foster unity and cooperation
in the Mohawk Valley region.
With a population of more than 300,000 residents, and several billion dollar industries,
the Mohawk Valley Region is a great place for recreation, to work and live!