The Next Opportunity in The Next Generation: Data Insights

with Deb Eskra (Oracle), Neal Heffernan (GfK) & An Tran (NJIT)

The 2022 GfK NextGen Hackathon Competition brought together undergraduate teams from different universities to compete against one another in a data analytics showdown. Teams were tasked with developing strategic recommendations for new products or services in the shopper insights space; this year’s winner hailed from NJIT — iRecommend, a service that relies on predictive analytics to suggest products to ecommerce shoppers, based on their purchase histories and personal characteristics.

Now in its 11th year, the NextGen Competition gives undergraduates firsthand exposure to solving real-life business problems with consumer insights and data.

Tune into this episode as we go behind the scenes to get insights and perspectives from one of our judges Deb, our GfK expert, Neal and team captain of our winning team, An. They talk about their experiences with the hackathon, and more importantly, how marketers, organizations and other students can benefit from taking part in a data competition.

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This episode features

Podcast Speaker - Deb

Deb Eskra
Principal, Measurement & Applied Data Science
Oracle Advertising

Deb has over 20 years’ experience with CPG and marketing research. She currently works with advertisers, publishers and networks, and media agencies to help them understand how well their advertising campaigns performed from awareness and attention through to purchase outcomes.

Podcast Speaker - Neal

Neal Heffernan
EVP – Sales Effectiveness
GfK North America

Neal leads the GfK Sales Effectiveness team in North America. Neal oversees the design, execution and analyses of marketing ROI studies utilizing retailer loyalty card data and in-market controlled store tests (CSTs) for CPG manufacturers and retailers. Neal has been a member of GfK and its predecessor companies since 2008.

Podcast Speaker - An

An Tran
Junior, Computer Science

An is a third year undergraduate student currently pursuing a Bachelor in Computer Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology. As an Undergraduate Research Assistant working at the NJIT's College of Computing, he was given a chance to be involved in projects that dealt with practical problems emerging in online-matching markets, including rideshare, crowdsourcing, and online advertising business. Using data analysis, he aims to bring more equality and diversity to society.

More resources


Blog: System to predict needs of ecommerce shoppers wins GfK’s NextGen Data Science Hackathon

A team of four Computer Science majors from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has won GfK’s annual NextGen Data Science Hackathon Competition, capturing a $5,000 grand prize. The NJIT group proposed data-driven systems for making FMCG ecommerce experiences more personalized.

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This is a podcast about research, innovation, and discovery. Each episode will give you new insights into today’s consumer, and prepare you for tomorrow’s marketplace.