Week 1: the making of a “new” New York

First five days in New York flew by very quickly. After spending nine months with the same cohort in Budapest it felt surreal to meet all the classmates in very different surroundings. Even though I was aware of NY being a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, I was surprised to hear that close to 40% of its residents are foreign born. This being said there is no doubt that our multinational cohort will blend in just fine.

During our first week in NYC we were privileged to take part in different talks inside and outside the classroom. We met several entrepreneurs, visited different types of accelerators/incubators as well as NYU Centre for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) and Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP law firm.

Of these visits the one that resonated most with me was the visit to CUSP. It was not because of the spectacular view over New York, but mostly due to the eye opening talk about Big Data. CUSP is a public-private research center that uses New York as a living laboratory. CUSP collects and analyzes large range of data that can be then used for wide variety of optimization purposes from energy efficiency to allocation of police patrols. What was striking to me was not only the amount of information already being gathered but also the various methods used to collect this information: in addition of obvious data traffic tracking, a large amount of data is collected by video shootings, thermal cameras, microphones etc.

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Coming from banking industry it makes me wonder if this information could be taken into more efficient use also in my line of business. Combining the readily available data (open data movement) with bank’s own databases could help to increase the customer satisfaction, to foresee customer needs, to boosts sales and to reach out to customers at the right time. Banks already have large amount of customer data for example regarding customers’ online banking behaviour (where, when, for how long, types of devices used). Combining this information with Big Data and analysing it could very well lead to a competitive advantage over other banks. It goes without saying that introducing these types of procedures require investments in new technologies and resources. However, as the customer behaviour increasingly moves to online, the bond between banks and customers becomes weaker and the value of analytical and proactive tools increases.

It was clear from all the talks of the first week that during the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s era New York was able to take huge steps in terms of supporting entrepreneurship and tech startups. It is very impressive to see how quickly the city has recreated itself and grown to become country’s second leading tech hub. The second week of our module will consist mostly of finance and consulting related talks and company visits. I’m very much looking forward to these sessions that are closer to my own profession. I doubt that there would be any better place to cover these topics than the most sophisticated and diverse financial center of the world.

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