Marc Fanelli ’93, ’99 MA has become a major player within the continuously expanding field of big data. While at Montclair State, Fanelli pursued degrees in both Mathematics and Geography. “I was conflicted, unsure if I was left-brained or right-brained,” he stated, “I came from a family of scientists, yet was still passionate about history, culture, and literature.” A double major became the best option. With Mathematics being the bedrock of physical science, it would provide a solid foundation if he chose to pursue a postgraduate degree, while Geography allowed him to immerse himself in everything from environmental law to economic development in foreign countries.
He fell in love with the field of statistics long before Montclair State, having always been interested in numbers and patterns. “Even as a kid I would compare and contrast sports statistics,” he mused. But it wasn’t until his first probability course, that Fanelli became truly hooked. That’s when he determined that returning to Montclair for his Master’s in Statistics was going to be his next move.
“The decision to return was a no-brainer,” Fanelli said. After having achieved early success within his career as a data analyst in the field of database marketing. He attributed this success to his outstanding education at Montclair during his undergraduate studies, and made the decision to return as a graduate student while continuing to work full time.
Today, Marc runs a big-data driven product line for Acxiom as the Group Vice President of Audience Solutions. He is responsible for creating products which allow brands to gain insights on their consumers. He uses mathematics and statistics to mine publicly available big data that is produced by consumers, which reveals buying behavior, consumer wants and needs, and various consumer profiles. This in turn allows for more personalized marketing strategies, and ultimately a better overall customer experiences. He has been able to work in over fifty different countries, providing developing nations with new capabilities and techniques.
Fanelli, having developed expertise within the high demand field of big data prior to its introduction as a major, has reaped the benefits of the field’s rapid expansion. In a world where information technology and analytics are continuously evolving and improving, the amount of data that people produce is always expanding. We are now living in a connected world, and data scientists interpret these massive amounts of data we produce, in order to better detect and understand patterns across the global population. He explained, “The world we live in becomes more data-driven every day, and when mined ethically and responsibly, that data can be used to drive change for good in the world.” Data is extremely valuable, and possibly the most valuable currency of our time.
He spoke about Montclair State’s reconstruction of Mallory Hall, which is to be dedicated to the study of Computer Science, as well as the addition of a new Master’s program rooted in big data. Fanelli emphasized the importance of understanding the way brands interact with consumers through targeted advertising, social media, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. He believes that as more universities expand and promote this field, we will reach a better understanding of how to effectively mine and interpret data in a world where it has become unavoidable. He stresses the importance of truly taking time to understand the theories behind this field, rather than simply memorizing formulas, in order to understand how this industry truly works and be apply to apply techniques effectively.