By Stephen Gentile
With a vast network of start-ups and a haven of biotech and pharma companies, and dozens of institutions of higher learning it is no secret that Massachusetts is one of the most tech-advanced states in the country. According to Gov. Charlie Baker, we now must leverage the state’s technology and economic progress and increase its competitiveness.
Brandeis GPS is partnering with the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) in support of this cause. A coalition of pro-growth advocates is developing and launching a unique online resource that measures how the state ranks nationally among other states.
Why MATTERS matters
The new system, MATTERSTM (Massachusetts’ Technology, Talent, and Economic Reporting System), was developed by students and faculty from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), with assistance and guidance from an Advisory Board formed by MHTC. MATTERS creates profiles of each of the 50 states based on key parameters related to talent, tax, business climate and quality of life. It then compiles national rankings data and dozens of cost, economic and talent metrics to see how Massachusetts ranks in comparison to other states.
The data MATTERS generates helps Massachusetts private and public sectors identify and drive legislation that maximizes the state’s strengths (source).
How Brandeis GPS fits in
In January 2016, as program chair of the Strategic Analytics program, I led a team of GPS students in a project to research, cleanse, and load MATTERS data. Each academic term, we will continue this process by building a MATTERS team, selecting participating students based on their previous academic performance in the program, professional experience, and leadership abilities. The GPS data curators conduct meetings with MHTC, WPI, and other stakeholders; define a scope of work for the course, and culminate their work on the project with a final proposal that outlines next steps and possible deliverables for the next GPS research team. The MATTERS team reviews and approves each proposal before the next term begins.
The inaugural GPS team spearheaded the following milestones:
- Evaluating and taking inventory of all data sources
- Compiling and transmitting updated data from all relevant sources; the WPI team used this data to test MATTERS version 2.0, which MHTC announced this spring.
- Creating and documenting the methodology to maintain MATTERS data, including on-going processes, workflow among stakeholders, and data update schedules
Our work has been essential in establishing processes and procedures that ensure MATTERS is working with high-quality data, but there is still much to do. Data curation goes beyond organizing and cleansing data — it can also set up a construct for the broader user community to access quality data in a reproducible manner, which guarantees its usefulness for future research. Additionally, data curation will facilitate a better collaboration between organizations as the source data will be improved “on the edge” before it enters the MATTERS clearinghouse.
Detailed plans for the summer 2016 MATTERS course are now underway, as we look to re-evaluate all data sources, document our methodology, and enhance the workflows and collaboration with WPI and the MHTC teams.
Stephen Gentile serves as Director, Project Management Office at Babson Capital Management LLC. He is also the chair of the Strategic Analytics program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies and teachers courses in their Strategic Analytics and Project and Program Management programs.