Sitting here in Las Vegas with the practitioner-oriented SAS Analytics 2012 behind me and business executive-focused Premier Business Leadership Series conference ahead, I can't get the 80s ditty "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades" out of my head.
And, no, the snappy refrain didn't come to and stick in mind because of the flashing neon lights of the Vegas strip, as ubiquitous as they are.
The tune came to me sitting in the quietly lit conference rooms at Caesars Palace. There I listened in as one after another analytics professional shared a future vision of what business will be like once data-driven decision-making becomes as ingrained in corporate America and beyond as, well, the perpetual dinging of the slot machines in Vegas casinos.
Mark Pitts, director, Data Science, Solutions & Strategy at UnitedHealth Group (UHG), a global diversified healthcare company headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn., shared his vision during a presentation on how the company is testing out a state-of-the-art high-performance analytics platform (from SAS, this site's sponsor, and Greenplum) to tackle the big-data challenge. Recounting his family's experience at Disney World, Pitts said he intended to make analytics as organic to the healthcare process as it is to Disney operations. With big-data analytics, UHG has the potential to make that happen -- developing electronic medical records through text analytics programs, unearthing missed diagnoses, and monitoring for medication compliance. Meantime, machine-learning-based support systems at the point of care could help prevent medical errors and improve quality.
In his presentation on using data mining in forecasting, Tim Rey, director of advanced analytics at Dow Chemical, in Midland, Mich., spoke of a future in which companies relied on untold numbers of data sources in their analytics work. Operating in all parts of the world, Dow, like many others, faces an explosion in time series data available for mining. The data might be available for free within the public domain, it might come from the government or from service providers -- "there are thousands and thousands of sources waiting for you if you have the tenacity to work with them," Rey said.
In Will Hakes's future vision, that sort of tenacity and an understanding of data's significance for competitive will make a chief analytics officer (CAO) common within the enterprise -- much as the office of the CIO is today. "It must come," said Hakes, who is CEO at Links Analytics, an Atlanta-based advanced analytics solutions company. "We think this is necessary to handle where analytics is headed. In general, we need to create a new department... and internal charter, elevated to CEO level. If not, the promise of big-data analytics will fall short."
Hakes, who spoke on the big-data analytics revolution, said the disagreements arising within companies today between departments over analytics responsibility must stop. "Analytics is so valuable... that struggle is inefficient," he said. "The chief analytics officer organization must rise and articulate the vision throughout, and especially upwards."
Hakes left the audience with an energizing video on the power of big-data analytics... as will I.
@Hospice, it certainly won't be easy to fill all those analytical jobs. In talking to folks last week at Analytics 2012, I think every person I asked said they were either currently growing or planning to grow their analytics teams. And they seemed to be a tad frightened in saying so -- as in, "we're not sure how, but we need to fill new positions ...."
Seth, - Everyone's responsible for analytics athough i agree with Hakes on the formation of an analytics department. If everyone's responsible, no-one is answerable so this is about making someone take charge. Its also a point of agreement in the organization because the CAO should play the role of analytics moderator.
Often companies can produce information that is contradictory from department to department. A moderator would sort of give ranking to contradictory data so that if A conflicts with B on topic X then A must prevail.
@SethBreedlove, that is the ideal. But I think analytics -- or at least how to do analytics well -- is still a struggle for many companies. Even within a single company departments will have varying degrees of how they perceive of and accept analytical results. Ultimately, though, I agree with Link Analytics' Hakes -- responsibility should reside in an umbrella CAO organization.
Let's call it from the possibilities, Matt! From an educator's perspective, what are you doing to help shrink that bit 100k number? Would you say that was a goal of your book, Data Mining for the Masses?
I loved the Euro-tech sound track on the video -- I was groovin' in the privacy of my office. Your blog post, and the video, were thought provoking. As an educator, of course the statement that we will fall 100K short of the needed big data workers caught my eye. College professors always want their students to get good jobs, and better yet, attribute their success back to their alma mater! As a consultant, it made me wonder if companies out there, in a still shaky economy, are ready lay down actual dollars to start mining their big data. And as a scholar, the statement that 80% of big data is unstructured made me wonder if we can find and reveal a sort of DNA of unstructured data. My brain is spinning right now. If not from the possibilities, I think it's the techno music.
With our current economic state and changes in technologies it brings unprecedented challenges, globally. It presents the organization opportunities require data asset management. The lack of strategic management shows great value in having the Chief Analytics Officer as impactful within management.
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
The Current Discussion
Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus? The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question. The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.
Elizabeth Barth-Thacker, a BI and informatics technology manager at Humana, tells us how her team is creating data transparency and building engagement with the business – with the help of an internal collaboration portal called Humanalytics.
Whether working in major league sports, financial services, or healthcare, analytics, and data, professionals are checking out how visual analytics and high-performance technologies can help them optimize their environments, shrink their cycle times, and improve decision making, as attendees at the recent SAS Executive Briefing in New York share with us.
Jim Davis, SVP and CMO at SAS, talks with us at a recent SAS Executive Briefing about how high-performance analytics and visual analytics take away the concerns over big-data and let companies get down to business with their data.