Know Your Neighbor: Michael Minelli, Business Analytics Executive

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Michael Minelli
Michael Minelli

Michael Minelli works in one of the hottest, most in-demand portions of the business world.

With about 16 years of business analytics experience under his belt since graduating from Pace with a marketing degree, the Pleasantville resident has become one of the most highly regarded sales and marketing executives in the area. The majority of his career has been spent selling analytic projects to help clients assess risk management, customer intelligence and many other factors that can assist a corporation or organization better understand its audience.

“What I do for a living is basically help people solve their (business) problems with data,” explained Minelli, 38, who for the past year has been vice president of information services for MasterCard Advisors in Purchase. “I’m on the sales and marketing end of that, so I work with clients to create solutions.”

He writes about the seismic shift that has occurred in the business world because of analytics in his recently released second book, “Big Data, Big Analytics: Emerging Business Intelligence and Analytic Trends for Today’s Businesses.” The book, published by John Wiley & Sons, is geared mainly toward executives and business professionals.

If you’re still wondering what business analytics is, here’s a quick explanation: Companies can takes a plethora of data from a vast number of sources, whether it be from social media, web logs or even open government sources, to have a quicker and keener sense of trends to better service their customers or markets.

Minelli’s work isn’t new. Decades ago Reader’s Digest used data to predict who was most likely to subscribe. But in recent years, thanks to the explosion of technology, the world of Big Data and analytics has changed rapidly. Today, it’s not just for the finance world and the Fortune 500 companies, but the two-person startups whose leadership have the wherewithal to use the data properly can benefit, said Minelli, whose first book was “Partnering With the CIO” in 2007.

9781118147603_cover.inddIt can also be used in virtually every industry or help any industry. The small Manhattan company DataKind, started by three recent graduates, uses Big Data and business analytics to secure funding from various corporations to help nonprofit organizations, while the University of Buffalo uses it to conduct MS research, he said.

“What’s changed with Big Data is that there’s now the technology; technology has evolved to the point where we can handle it; we can handle these volumes (of data) and do things with it that we couldn’t do before,” Minelli said. “The best part is that the technology has become a lot cheaper.”

For years, the use of data centered around informing company executives on what already happened. Today, it helps organizations ahead of time, such as finding the right price for a product and being able to quickly adapt to changing marketplaces.

“The second part of analytics is actually predictive analytics, so this is looking forward, not just looking at what had happened in the past,” said Minelli, who has lived with his wife in Pleasantville since 2001. The couple has three children between two and nine years old. “That’s the key differentiator in the business world, but also all these nonprofits are doing this research because they’re trying to predict something that is happening.”

When Minelli started at Pace in 1992, he had no idea he would spend his career working in what many might consider such an arcane field. As Minelli puts it, “I didn’t get into analytics because I was an A student in statistics.”

But he took an internship with Gartner, a technology research firm that was one of the first companies to highlight analytics and he became immersed in the work. Since Minelli was a marketing major, his interest was focused not as a data scientist but as a sales marketing career path.

He has worked for two startups, but his main experience came with SAS, a North Carolina-based business analytics software firm, which he was affiliated with for 12 years serving as sales director and global account manager.

With technology evolving so rapidly, Minelli said the possibilities for analytics to help businesses is limitless. It’s also helping to remake the job market. Industry experts predict that within five years there will about 200,000 unfilled jobs for data scientists, he said. Universities and colleges are now taking this evolving niche seriously, and companies are even starting their own schools to help teach employees.

“It’s gotten to a point where it has more visibility than ever,” Minelli said. “So when I talk to people about what I do, it’s a lot easier than when I started.”



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