Data can inspire a love connection on Aisle 2

Chocolate candy close upI was standing in the greeting card and seasonal gift aisle at my local grocery store recently surrounded by Valentine’s Day goodies. All the other shoppers standing in the aisle with me looked as perplexed as I felt. Should I throw in the towel, succumb to pressure, and get my Valentines the standard chocolate sampler in a heart-shaped box, or would inspiration strike and lead me to something more original?

Like Cupid’s arrow, it struck me that a similar dynamic is in play for grocery retailers wanting to connect with customers roaming the aisles with smart phones blazing. Sure, they can be content to let customers sleep walk through the store while picking up essentials for tonight’s supper. Or, the retailer can use collected data in a variety of ways that uphold the brand promise, delight the customer, improve inventory productivity and, ultimately, grow profits.

Here are some tips for how retailers can use data and show their customers some love: Read More »

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The scholastic chess championship for all of North Carolina

Amtrak's Carolinian transported RTP players from Raleigh, Cary and Durham stations to Charlotte for the 2015 NC K-12 Chess Championships.

North Carolina has over 300 miles of wide, flat Atlantic beaches as well as the highest mountain in the eastern United States, Mount Mitchell. The variety is impressive for a state that isn't even in the top half of the 50 states by size. One key reason is geometric: North Carolina is a long state. Our geometry is the bane of organizers of any statewide event, including the one statewide scholastic sporting event most strongly associated with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) success, the annual NC K-12 Chess Championships.

For the North Carolina Chess Association (NCCA), the pacification of NC's elongation is rotation -- rotating the championship tournament between the three major metropolitan areas of the state over a three year cycle. SAS's first sponsorship of this championship was in Raleigh in 2014 followed by Charlotte in 2015. This year, SAS is honored to sponsor the 42nd NC K-12 Chess Championships the weekend of Feb. 19th-21st in downtown Winston-Salem at the Embassy Suites and Marriott.

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What's next in digital and mobile?

CustomerDigitalMarketingLast year at Mobile World Congress (MWC), we saw the reality of the IoT come to fruition. We saw leaders like AT&T showing their prototypes of connected cars, containers, agricultural sites, homes, etc. And it's got me wondering what we'll see at the 2016 MWC.

In 2015, communications and media companies scrambled to ride the digital wave. I met with dozens of executives to talk about harnessing and monetizing all this new digital data. The first step always involves looking at your IT infrastructure and the way you consume and explore various data. If you rely on IT or data scientists for critical analysis, then the executives need to take action to create a more agile and democratized approach to data exploration.

In Oct 2015, IDC put a stake in the ground and released its Digital Transformation (DX) report which states that “by 2020, 43 percent of IT budgets [will be] tied to new DX initiatives."

The reality is every company on the planet is focused on digital transformation. Those who don't will die. Some key areas where we're seeing investments are in the areas of cybersecurity, fraud, customer decisioning and data management with a focus on analytics. Read More »

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Behind the scenes: data science meets cybersecurity

Featuring a computer-savvy kid and Cold War intrigue, the 1980s movie War Games inspired more than one generation of STEM graduates. Sean Dyer is one Gen X’er who credits the movie for sending him on a path to where he is today as a cybersecurity data scientist.

As the fog lifts in San Francisco on February 29, SAS will join tens of thousands of information and network security professionals for the 2016 RSA Conference. While we gear up for our second year of participation at RSA, it seems appropriate to get to know some of the SAS experts like Sean that are changing the way this $77 billion market looks at analytics.

In a few brief minutes of listening to Sean talk about data science, I could feel his passion and excitement for his work. Catch a glimpse of how Sean’s contributions offer a continuous picture of the most serious threats to our customers’ data.

Sean Dyer

Outside of SAS, Sean Dyer spends time working on Software Defined Radio projects with his amateur radio license. He also enjoys hiking with his wife and looks forward to an upcoming vacation to Ireland.

Sean’s background
I’m a life-long SAS user, starting with learning to code in graduate school at Southern Illinois University. After a lot of data and analysis, I figured out I couldn’t crack the lottery code. True story. So I took my love of problem solving and began working in statistics for insurance and later defense contracting. The opportunity to work for SAS in the advanced analytics team was a natural career progression and I’ve been here since.

Why cyberanalytics?
I’d like to think that the seed of my interest in cybersecurity was sewn with the movie WarGames. When working with the SAS Federal Government team, I had the opportunity to dream with some of my colleagues about what was possible using analytics for defending the US against hackers. We gave a blue-sky style presentation at a national labs’ IT conference on how analytics could solve growing security problems. When we finished the presentation, there were a line of customers that wanted to talk. That kind of encouragement from the people that do this work every day fueled a fire that eventually led us to develop SAS® Cybersecurity. Read More »

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Need data for school? The SAS Communities Library has a stash

As many as 2,000 new users are registering each month to partake of -- and contribute to -- collective SAS wisdom in the SAS Support Communities.

If you’re beginning your journey to learn SAS, make a habit of stopping by SAS Communities Library to tap a growing treasure trove of fascinating open-source data.

Dig in! open-data

So, where is this data?

Need data for teaching or learning? Get it here!, a library article started by former Analytics U Community Manager Jennifer Scott (and that I now maintain), aggregates links to open data sources from around the world.

The easiest way to find all articles about data sources is to type "Data for learning" in the search field  on the communities home page. The search will return everything we have. Read More »

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Will Paul DePodesta + sports analytics = improved safety for NFL Players?

Shocking headlines to start the new year: Paul DePodesta is leaving the New York Mets and Major League Baseball (MLB) to take a top office position at the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL).

Not so shocked? You don’t care? Who’s Paul De Podesta? Well for those of you who don’t go all übergeeky over baseball statistics, Paul is the guy played by Jonas Hill in the film Moneyball (he was Brad Pitt’s top analyst). Check this out:

I get goosebumps on this quote EVERY SINGLE TIME: “People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws: Age, appearance, personality. Bill James and mathematics cut right through that.” (Ok, I confess, I’m partial to melodrama, sue me).

But now Paul DePodesta is defecting. He’s leaving behind the clear statistics and discrete events of MLB to join the brutish, and more-difficult-to-quantify real value realm of the NFL. Is that betraying his past? Is he a Judas? Like Bob Dylan when he went electric?

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Major electrical utility challenges for 2016 (and how analytics can help)

I recently read an article about the major challenges electric utilities are facing in 2016, and I thought: "Wow, those challenges can be answered in so many ways..." Utilities are dealing with an Utility2onslaught of issues which can no longer be ignored or put off because they're all high priority and interrelated. But you've got to start somewhere, so here are the ones that must be addressed sooner rather than later:

It's a good thing that analytics can help with all of these issues. As I mentioned in a previous post, analytics are the ultimate renewable resource: Applying analytics can help solve not just these issues, but a whole lot of other utility and energy-related business issues and processes as well.

Stop by the Intel Booth #1055 and the OSIsoft booth #808 at DistribuTECH in Orlando, February 9-10 to learn more about how analytics can help your utility.

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How to make universities even smarter

Universities using data is a topic close to SAS’ heart, and in a recent blog we talked about the specific challenges that UK universities face in attracting and keeping students, and how data can help universities better understand the student lifecycle.

The first Universities and College Admissions Services (UCAS) deadline for undergraduate course choices has just passed, so student recruitment is front-of-mind for the higher education sector. I recently hosted a webinar to delve further into how universities can use data to make smarter choices. Effective data analytics can help education institutions to:

University lecture

  • Improve recruiting and admissions
  • Tackle student retention
  • Understand the profitability of courses and research
  • Forecast intake and finances
  • Increase donations and philanthropic activities
  • Track and improve REF research funding (REF being the framework that calculates funding for UK higher education)

Achieving these goals requires informed decision making, effective resource planning, and a commitment to optimising student success across a wide range of university departments. Read More »

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SAS brings real-time sensors and analytics to 2016 DistribuTECH

The Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and connected devices are all the buzz leading up to DistribuTECH (Feb 9-11), so I sat down with one of our IoT specialists, Lorry Hardt to learn more. Lorry will be at DistribuTECH to support our joint demonstration with Intel and gave me the inside scoop on what he's planning to showcase at the conference.

First off, what “sensors” are you taking to the conference?

Lorry: You can think of the sensor as a low-cost computer that can be programmed. The device looks like a circuit board, but we used a 3-D printer to make a durable case so that we can easily transport it without affecting the wiring inside.

In the education world, these “development boards” may be found inside a middle school robot, or a high school science project about synthesizers.image1

Because of their flexibility and low-cost, companies use them in lots of different ways. We chose to use this device as our sensor, which collects and aggregates multiple environmental readings (temp, humidity, light, motion and sound). Our partner, Intel, provides an Arduino-compatible board called Galileo. Read More »

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Performance-based funding in education

How do public higher education institutions get funded? In the past, state funding was tied to enrollment, but now more states are tying funding to institutional performance. State Legislatures want more accountability for money spent on higher education and have turned to performance-based funding (also called outcomes-based funding). As such, state funding is now tied to metrics like degrees awarded, course completion rates, time to degree, etc.

As such, administrators need to understand how well their courses and departments are performing and how they contribute to overall success. They need to drill down to the individual course level to evaluate course performance. Then they need analyze it further to determine what factors contribute to a well-performing course -- and how to apply that knowledge to improve underperforming courses. They must repeat the process for degrees awarded, transfer rates, etc. And they need to have this information at their fingertips for detailed analysis in order to effectively correct anything that's not working efficiently. Read More »

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