Here at SGF: Lovin' San Fran & Talking Up HPA


I love San Francisco in the spring. Itís even better when one of the major analytics events in the country -- SAS Global Forum -- chooses Moscone Center as the venue. Dungeness crab, dim sum, and data analytics are a hard combination to beat.

Iím here for the week, and Iím really looking forward to it. It looks as if we're going to have great weather the entire time, and there are some great talks lined up. Big names in analytics like Billy Beane and Tom Davenport are here along with attendees from all over the world. What brings us all together?

Well, itís an exciting time to be in analytics. When I talk to executives from various industries, they all have one theme related to analytics: in essence, that analytics will fundamentally change the way they do business. In fact, one top executive at an international consulting firm (yes, you would know the name) recently told me that he believes in five years his firm will be making its money very differently than it does today. Analytics is his consultancy's future. That's why I, along with a few other thought leaders, was invited to speak to a gathering of the firmís leadership brought in from every region of the world -- to help it succeed in that future.

I, too, believe that analytics will transform our lives and businesses. These technologies will help us live more healthily and more safely. They will help us understand our world in ways undreamt of just a few years ago. They will help us conduct business more efficiently. And they will help us in ways we havenít thought of yet. In many ways, the transformation has already begun.

Part of what is driving this evolution is that the field of analytics itself is changing. Analytics is no longer just reports, cubes, and dashboards. Statistics is no longer just for academics. And we are all swimming in a rising tide of data. Advances in analytics are occurring on what seems like a daily basis.

I'm giving a talk this afternoon at SAS Global Forum (SGF to veteran attendees) on a set of technologies that represent the vanguard of that evolution. I recently began working hands-on with some of the latest high-performance analytic software and hardware, and I got to see the difference firsthand. The heart of high-performance capability lies in enabling data scientists to solve real-world problems with massive amounts of data using massively parallel processing (MPP). MPP allows us to break problems into many parts and then solve each of those parts at the same time -- in parallel. This approach can reduce run times from hours or days to minutes or seconds. How?

Imagine if I asked you to count the words in this blog. It might take you three or four minutes to get an accurate result. Now imagine you have a lot of friends to help you, and you can give each one of them a different sentence. And letís say you have another helper who can quickly tally the results from each of your friends. Voila! You can now solve the problem in a fraction of the time because you are all working in parallel on a different piece of the problem. Thatís how MPP works.

Iíll be going into a lot more detail in my talk, "High-Performance Analytics: Big Data Brought to Life on the EMC Greenplum Data Computing Appliance," at 2:00 p.m. PT, so if you're here I look forward to seeing you. Donít be shy about introducing yourself afterwards! And if you couldnít make it to San Francisco for SGF, you can still see some of the presentations over the web. Enjoy!

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Mark Pitts, Data Scientist & Healthcare Executive

Mark Pitts is a data scientist and healthcare executive with more than 25 years of experience solving business problems with technology and analytics. He started programming at the age of 13 – writing his first program on paper because he didn't yet have a computer – and hasn't stopped since. Over the years, he's garnered advanced education and expertise in computing science and business domains, and has applied his multidisciplinary skillset in leading real-world implementations of enterprise resource planning, financial and business intelligence systems, and multimillion-dollar, greenfield development projects to solve enterprise-scale business challenges.

He ultimately progressed from the IT shop to the business, driving the financial performance of healthcare organizations in areas including managed care contracting, provider compensation, payment integrity, forecasting, clinical quality, medical billing, receivables management, and analytics. His innovative work has been recognized with a variety of awards, and his creations support benefits measured in billions of dollars.

In May 2013, Pitts will complete an additional graduate program at Texas A&M University, receiving a Master of Science in statistics with a dual emphasis in applied statistics and biostatistics. He undertook these studies with the recognition that advances in computing technology, the explosion of the electronically interconnected world, and advances in machine learning would combine to change the game, especially in healthcare. He has a passion for writing and public speaking, with a track record of highly rated appearances in a variety of venues, from business and executive conferences to technical and analytics conferences. He has been interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of print and online publications, and is currently developing a course designed to introduce business people to the power of data visualization and analytics to solve everyday business problems.

He is also developing a Website for advanced analytics and is incubating a book project that will gain more momentum post-graduation. Pitts is currently employed by a Fortune 25 company, and he lives in Minneapolis with his lovely (and patient) wife, their two teenagers, and four remarkably spoiled dogs. He is also still glowing – and is somewhat harder to live with – after Harvard Business Review declared that data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century. You can follow Pitts on Twitter @DatalyticSci.

Here at SGF: Lovin' San Fran & Talking Up HPA

Watch for me at SAS Global Forum, and join me for my 2:00 p.m. PT session on high-performance analytics.

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Re: Don't let the weather fool you!
  • 5/1/2013 8:03:16 AM
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Yea, callmebob - but the food! The fog! It's all so romantic (from a distance)

MPP
  • 4/30/2013 5:36:00 PM
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The Massively Parallel Processing concept sounds good in terms of truncating the waiting time in processing. Then again when i think of it i haven't actually met data that was so much and needing distributed processing. Maybe this applies to the big companies best.

Re: Don't let the weather fool you!
  • 4/30/2013 4:59:43 PM
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Yup. And stay here long enough and you can forget about the high real estate prices, crowded freeways and just go with the flow. Also, we may complain about the cooler weather but then we never have to dig our cars out of snowbanks or the high cost to run a air conditioner. In summers, we get our natural cooling from the Pacific Ocean.

Re: Don't let the weather fool you!
  • 4/30/2013 7:54:08 AM
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@Callmebob,

San Francisco is a prestigious city that anyone would like to visit in any season. I was in San Jose to attend a conference some while ago and I did like the place. 

Re: Don't let the weather fool you!
  • 4/30/2013 12:04:18 AM
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Ah, a great city ...in any weather

Don't let the weather fool you!
  • 4/29/2013 4:55:45 PM
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@Mark - You got lucky this week, we're having a freakish warm spell with temps into the 80s and beautiful blue skies. Enjoy it while you can, at any moment a marine layer of air can takeover and bring back those 50 and 60 degree days that will make you wish the Forum was in San Diego. (Not a bad place either.) Have a good time!

Updates
  • 4/29/2013 2:33:52 PM
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Very interested in the updates in both B2B and consumer driven organizations. Have fun it is a great city!

Way to go Mark
  • 4/29/2013 12:20:07 PM
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Sounds like a great week -- and an especially good speech Mark!

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