The Company We Keep: Bringing Together Big Data and Thick Data

Here at Southpaw, we are lucky to work with all kinds of talented people and fascinating organizations. So, we thought it would be fun to share the love with our readers by occasionally featuring a few of our favorite collaborators.

First up is our good friend and fellow Titanium Worldwide member, David Ricciardi. David is the founder and CEO of Proximo, an information services company specializing in big data, which in 2021 was named to the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies. We caught up with David right after he’d returned from moderating a panel at the annual Diversity Alliance for Science conference.

Proximo’s tagline is “Intelligent Information.” Can you tell us what that means and what services Proximo provides?

Our clients come to us with some very interesting conceptual problems that they’re trying to solve using data – and typically, with questions that nobody’s been able to give them a good answer to. We are very creative around data – where we get it from, how we use it, and what we do with it.

Proximo generally works with data in three ways, the first being business intelligence and analytics, which entails predictive analytics, data visualization, and things like that. The second thing we do is data warehousing and integration work, in which we bring together data from all the places in which your data may live so that you can use it for analytics. And then the third area is data strategy and data governance, which very broadly is, “I’ve got data, what the heck do I do with it?”

Tell us a little bit more about the kind of data you use in your projects.

A lot of it will be our customers’ proprietary data – whether it’s their financial data, or supply chain data, or customer care data call center. Sometimes we have the opportunity to bring in public data sources, like from CDC or NIH, depending on what the project is. And some data we collect from other affiliated third parties such as industry trade groups that volunteer data to our clients, so that they can get back the answers as well. In other words, it’s a data sharing agreement in which we’re granted access to for specific use.

How does your work (big data) complement Southpaw’s (thick data)?

When you’re looking across millions of data points in a big data pool, you’re looking at data correlations, but you’re inherently only looking at the data you’ve got in that set. And by going really deep with customers or users, Southpaw creates data that otherwise does not exist at all. This can be very, very important as an input into our process by giving us additional color and perspectives. And sometimes we may find correlations and say, “Well, that’s interesting, we didn’t expect to see that.” That’s when the “thick data” can help explain what’s going on, which can then further inform whether or not we should collect this data more regularly. So, the two kinds of data complement each other in a virtuous cycle.

 Since this is near and dear to your heart, tell me about supplier diversity. You were the one who originally encouraged Southpaw Insights to get certified as a WBE (Woman-owned Business Enterprise) back in 2018 and brought us into Titanium Worldwide, the world’s first collective of certified-diverse agencies. Why is supplier diversity so important to you?

Originally, I was approaching it as a business development opportunity. But then, as I got into it a little bit more, I saw a broader meaning behind it. And, it aligns with me personally in terms of how you can really impact individuals and communities through jobs creation. Jobs keep everything going – it’s where people get their income, where they pay their rent, how they get health insurance. Everything under the sun comes from that.

We’ve also used Supplier Diversity to develop a line of business, blending what we do on the data side to help our more forward-thinking customers who believe in the value of supplier diversity tell better stories in creative ways.

This all aligns with my philosophy, so from there I do things like serve on the Board for Diversity Alliance for Science, and I served previously on the NGLCCNY (National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) New York Executive Committee to help other businesses expand their client base. We’re all collectively growing the network.

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