There's a lot of ENERGY around SAS Global Forum


I'm not just talking about all the energy put in planning, scheduling, and supporting this great event, which is in Dallas, TX next week, April 26-29.



I'm talking about all the presentations about using analytics in energy related industries, particularly in Utilities and in Oil and Gas.

There is a lot to hear and see at SAS Global Forum, but for those in the energy industry, here are some highlights not to miss out on:

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John Cassara talks dirty money and trade-based money laundering


John Cassara, former U.S. Intelligence Officer and Treasury Special Agent

I recently spoke with John Cassara, a former U.S. Intelligence Officer and Treasury Special Agent, about the growing concern over trade-based money laundering (TBML) and how we can combat it.

John retired after a 26-year career in the federal government intelligence and law enforcement communities. He's an expert in anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, with particular expertise in the areas of money laundering in the Middle East and the growing threat of alternative remittance systems and forms of trade-based money laundering and value transfer. Here are the highlights from my discussion with John.

What’s trade-based money laundering?
John:  Well, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), TBML is defined as the “the process of disguising the proceeds of crime and moving value through the use of trade transactions in an attempt to legitimize their illicit origins.” The key word in the definition is value. Forget about transferring or laundering money via banks.  We're primarily talking about the trading of goods to launder money.

Why is TBML so important?
John: The FATF has called TBML one of the top three money laundering methodologies in the world. Yet it's the one we have done the least to combat. Read More »

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It's been a blast!

image of two dogs - Willie and Willow

Willie and Willow chilling

Well, folks, I think it’s time to hang up my harness.

Since 2008, I’ve navigated the pathways of SAS, visited some great places throughout North America, and taken the best care I could of my friend Ed. But 7 years is a long time (especially in dog-years). So I’m graciously stepping aside to make room for the next Seeing Eye Dog.

If you notice Ed with another pup, just remember the rules are the same. No eye contact. No petting. (I know it’s hard to resist us; we are that gorgeous.) The new dog has a job—a hugely important job—so don’t be surprised if he ignores you.

photo of 2 dogs - Willie and Willow

Willie and Willow frolicking in the yard

You may be wondering what I’ll be doing with all of my free time, but don’t worry. I have plans. I’ll take naps, chill with my friend Willow, sun myself on the porch, wrestle with Willow, and generally do what pets do (heavy emphasis on relaxation and observation).

I officially retire on May 1. To all of my reader-fans, thanks for following me these past few years and allowing me to share all of the great work we do here at SAS to help users with disabilities. It’s been a privilege to serve!

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New source for manufacturing best practices

Profitable growth is at the forefront of manufacturing executives’ minds¹.  The math is simple:  increase revenue and decrease costs.  Easy, right?  Unfortunately, getting there isn't that simple.  The good news is that analytics can help.  The better news is that there’s a new place for manufacturers to discover analytic best practices:
Made in... Analytics.

New source for manufacturing best practicesMade in... Analytics is a new sister blog to SAS Voices.  It is designed just for you, the manufacturing professional, to explore hot topics and business issues in the manufacturing industry.  The blog highlights case studies, lessons learned, and best practices.  Whether you're interested in understanding how to take advantage of the Internet of Things or how to finally get your arms around Supply ChainQuality, or Service, this new blog brings you analytic best practices from a manufacturing perspective, so that you can:

  1. Do more with less.
  2. Do it better than anyone else.

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Peaceful Earth Day tidings from a benevolent alien overlord…er, observer

Happy Earth Day, earthlings! As an outsider observing your planet, with absolutely no nefarious intentions whatsoever, I have to say you have a pretty good thing going there.

I was sent by the leading…scientists on my planet, Kahnquur-7, to learn more about Earth, its dominant life form (yay, humans!), its sweet, precious resources, and its readiness to fend off an invasion by a superior alien species. Uh…I mean…its readiness to engage in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas with an equally awesome species (yay, Kahnquurers!)

If you will allow me to briefly pat myself on the carapace, if you were to rate our technological prowess on a scale of one to blark, with blark being “capable of annihilating an entire planet’s lifeforms in a matter of minutes” then yeah, we’re scoring a solid blark. That’s why I was so surprised to come across an Earth technology that rivals our own.

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Data science doing good

100033677We’re living in revolutionary times. Nearly every interaction that occurs between our world and each other now occurs with a digital interface like a laptop, a cellphone or a FitBit. This digitization represents a paradigm shift in the way we’re instrumenting our world and the new bottom-up, democratized manner in which data is created and made available.

These streams of passively collected data give us access to huge new opportunities to learn about our world, but also create data sets so large and so complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Fortunately, recent advances in technology have made capturing, analyzing, visualizing and leveraging data to make better decisions easier than ever before.

Like personal computing in the 1980’s or the Internet in the 1990’s, today’s data revolution presents a new opportunity to radically transform virtually every field for the better. New data sources and statistical tools can help identify trends, recognize inefficiencies and discover information that leads to greater impact in every area, from healthcare to urban planning. All organizations are now data organizations.

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Using the power of analytics to understand the value of human capital

Analytics as it pertains to the employees and the workforce is taking the industry by storm.  Recently, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how companies are harnessing the power of analytics to help them identify staff who are likely to leave.  In the past few weeks alone I’ve had the unique opportunity to meet with a variety of companies looking to develop an HR analytics strategy to further empower their HR initiatives.  For those who are new to this topic, analytics as it pertains to those in the workplace can be referenced by many names including HR analytics, workforce analytics, or people analytics. 

Why so much focus on workforce analytics? 

As the workforce continues to evolve with millennials flooding the industry, many companies are finding their workforce is comprised of more generations than ever, with each generation bringing unique needs and expectations into the workplace.  As a result, past business strategies utilized to attract and maintain quality talent are changing.  With the competition among companies for top talent continuing to increase, analytics has become a driving force to help companies stay relevant and successful with their workforce engagement and retention needs.

Next week at the Great Places to Work® conference in Dallas, I have the great opportunity to talk more about HR analytics and how companies can utilize the power of analytics to understand the value of their human capital.  The Great Places to Work conference is a great opportunity to hear from industry leaders about how to make the workplace great. For those planning to attend the conference, I look forward to meeting with you there!  Read More »

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Hoarding can lead to hidden treasures

Hoarding has a bad name. Popular TV programmes such as The Hoarder Next Door, Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder in the UK and Hoarding: Buried Alive in the US show hoarding in a very bad light. After all, why can’t they just throw away that 10-year-old newspaper?

What drives the hoarders’ motivation to keep everything they own is the fear that they’ll throw away something that may become useful or valuable one day. It’s a fear that we all, to some extent, have. How many times have you thrown something away, just to find out you needed it the next day?

TreasureSometimes hoarding can pay off. In an episode of the much-loved comedy series ‘Only Fools and Horses’, Rodney is cataloguing stock in the Trotter’s garage. His brother, the infamous ‘Del Boy’, comes across a pocket watch hidden away, and not realising its value he’s tempted to chuck it away. Luckily, he changes his mind; and it turns out to be worth an absolute fortune. You can relive the episode here.

What if you could get the best of both worlds? Never throw away anything that is potentially valuable and at the same time keeping your house clutter free and clean. How would you do it? One solution could be to build yourself some cheap storage in your garden, or rent out some space with a storage company. Then you can look for valuable items at your leisure. Read More »

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Oil benchmark back in the money, for now, with an eye on volatility

Oil is bouncing around the $50 range as the market adds and loses value with each new headline, from potential new Iranian exports after the nuclear talks to the slowest month of inventory builds at Cushing since Thanksgiving. The US rigcount is down nearly 23 percent year-over-year, but the rate of decline is slowing. Meanwhile, storage swells well ahead of the usual driving season highs, adding about 10 million barrels a week in March. Inventories are at their highest since 2001 and producers continue to pump. Glut is the word of the day.


Chart 1: Rolling Five-Year Portfolio

The chart above represents both Mark-to-Market (MtM) and Value-at-Risk (VaR), at the barrel level, of the rolling five-year portfolio. As the chart shows, VirtualOil’s value per barrel saw a massive squeezing of the margins going into the year, but it has stabilized as the price of oil found some solid footing around the strike price of $50 per barrel. WTI spent most of March below our shut-in price, with only five days at or above $50, but April has been struggling to move upward.

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Jump start your analytics program with visualization and communication

With so much information available about high-performance analytics, business intelligence and visual analytics, it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin, especially if you don’t have a team of statisticians standing by.

I'm frequently asked by customers who hope to take advantage of analytics how to get started.  How do you advocate for analytics without dragging your organization behind?  How do you show the value to your highly effective counterparts who like the way things have always been done?  If your company lives on a highly operational mindset, creating that culture of analytics can be a challenge.

Thankfully, analytics covers a huge range of opportunities, and it doesn't take an army to get started! Below are some techniques to start creating an analytical program using the resources you already have available.   Read More »

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