We built this city on analytics

I’m sure, like me, you've been annoyed at being stuck in a traffic jam in a city centre somewhere, or been frustrated at your kids leaving lights on, or annoyed with the heating coming on when the weather’s warmed up and you've not got round to adjusting the thermostat.

Now, imagine a world where all those little annoyances are taken care of. Your car redirects you automatically so you’re no longer inching forward wondering when you’re going to get to your meeting. Lights are turned off whenever people have left the room. The thermostat automatically adjusts in line with temperature changes outside. Aside from less irritation, imagine the energy savings.

We’re constantly being reminded that we have finite energy resources and at risk of being plunged into darkness, so we need to make whatever savings we can. Read More »

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Formula One benefits from fast data and big data

Blurred Formula One CarImagine you are the race director for a Formula One car. Decisions must be made within seconds, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

When speed is of utmost importance, it is necessary for race engineers to have all relevant race data at their fingertips.  Instead of having a couple of smart guys making engineering decisions with gut feeling and instinct, analytics make it possible to use the more than 200 sensors that are embedded in an average Formula One car. Data from these sensors can help create real time alerts on brakes, fuel, tires, track condition, driver condition, max speed, and more. Plus, after the race, you can analyze all relevant data regarding the car’s performance in light of weather conditions, engine temperature, specific batches of tires used and so on.

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Your data is in Hadoop, so what?

Okay, let's say your data is in Hadoop. The distributed, open source framework is configured as it should be across low-cost servers and your data is sitting in those clusters. It's been a meaningful effort to get to this point but how does it benefit your organization? If it's not doing something meaningful for your enterprise, what you've created is essentially a big data "Ha-Dump." It's only when you apply the data-to-decision process that your Hadoop efforts become fruitful.

SAS has enabled its industry-leading data management, analytics and visualization software to fully support you in the data-to-decisions journey. There's a SAS solution for every step of the way, whether it's data mining or information distribution, analytic modelling or data governance. Check out this two-minute video overview of the data-to-decisions process to see how SAS gives you the power to know more, and to know faster than your competition.

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Lookout! Ed has stars in his eyes

Back in January, I told you about this amazing project that Ed was working on, and now it’s done. Get ready. It’s a textbook—a science textbook about the stars.

“Say what?” you might be thinking.  Well, trust me. This book is cool!

Ed has been teaming with the Space Telescope Science Institute and some of the really smart folks here at SAS to create a book that students of all abilities can enjoy and learn from. It’s called Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn.

Available free from Apple iBooks store℠, Reach for the Stars can take students on an interactive journey through space. Check it out! While you’re exploring, you might discover how the universe began. Or how stars are born and evolve. Browse around and find out about the technologies that are used in space and the exciting careers in STEM.

It’s all there in this book, folks, plus some gorgeous images of the Tarantula Nebula taken from the Hubble Space telescope. To make sure that everybody can enjoy it, we’ve used accessible technologies, including:

  • sonification of data—so that you can hear the images
  • tactile overlays (provided by National Braille Press) –so that you can feel the images
  • captioned videos of interviews with scientists
  • audio of all content

Sounds awesome, right?  Learn even more from this video.  (And yeah, that is Ed in there. He left me out this time. I have survived the disappointment.)

 
Funded by an education and public outreach grant from NASA, Reach for the Stars opens scientific content to students with visual impairments, but kids of all abilities with love it too.

Did I mention that it's free?

Download Reach for the Stars from the Apple iBooks store℠ to your iPad or iPad Mini™. And please, tell your family, friends, and teachers about it today!

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Data as the most critical asset

ShatteredScreenWriting my previous post about digital banks got me thinking about the widespread use of analytics. In his book Digital Bank, Chris Skinner states that data should be seen as the most critical asset for digital banks. Actually, this holds true for almost every company nowadays.

If you don’t have data of good quality, what do your management reports actually mean? Your data quality must be perfect, and you need the right people to perform the right analyses on the data and the right systems to present the results the right way. Let’s look more closely at each of these topics, and delve into some specific articles that discuss the different aspects of treating data as an asset.

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Scholastic chess clubs: 10 reasons why

Math_Summit_MS_AUG14

Teachers and chess coaches talk about scholastic chess at the 2014 Triangle High 5 Math Summit, Aug 6th at SAS World Headquarters, Cary, NC.

Chess in the classroom? Teachers and parents have discovered the educational benefits, and the trend is growing rapidly.  And they are in good company.

On June 13th, 2014, Bono called his time as a scholastic chess player as his  "... greatest childhood pleasure. In Ballymun we had a chess club, and like so many kids at the beginning of the 70s, I fell head over heels for this dizzy strategic game."

A week before, Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, was promoting chess as well -- he nominated chess as the best game in the world. Branson said, “It would be wonderful if everyone in the world could enjoy the competition and sense of achievement chess can provide.”  The week after Bono's post on June 19th,  the Chess Caucus of the United States Congress held its first bi-partisan chess tournament with the goal of promoting chess in education. Helping the congress members with their games were some of the top scholastic chess players in the United States.

Why has this summer seen so much excitement about chess and education? And why would a scholastic chess club have the kind of impact that Bono describes?

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The new deal handshake: Customer loyalty and data privacy basics

Peter Hedberg head shot

Peter Hedberg, SAS

What is true customer loyalty? And how can you achieve it without compromising data privacy? According to Peter Hedberg, a senior customer relationship manager with SAS, true customer loyalty programs put the customer at the center of the relationship and use data in ways that are designed to please - not panic - the customer. 

Explicit permissions and clear customer benefits are both essential to getting this "new deal handshake" right. Keep reading to learn more from Hedberg in this short interview. 

How do stores and chains work to create customer loyalty?

Peter Hedberg: Loyalty cards and loyalty programs have existed for many years in the retail trade. Discounts, benefits, special offers, stickers and much else have been tried, but with mixed or no success. In practice, the stores have found it difficult to develop and strengthen customer loyalty, and this probably because we as customers are so price-conscious. However, most chains also work on introducing more channels and utilizing the increasing amount of information about the individual customer.

The industry talks about omni-channel, which means taking a unified approach towards the individual customer, regardless of whether this is face-to-face at the store, in the web shop, via phone or via mail.

Many talk about Omni-Channel and 1:1 but very few actually do it. This area both holds great potential and considerable challenges.’ Read More »

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Prince William and other emergency workers can benefit from analytics

Prince William at the Controls of a Search and Rescue Seaking Helicopter

Prince William at the controls of a search and rescue seeking helicopter

Did you hear that Prince William is getting a new job? Next year, he’ll fly emergency helicopters for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. The prince, who’ll donate his salary to charity, called his new gig “one of the finest forms of public service.”

The Duke of Cambridge won’t get any argument from me. My family includes a paramedic-turned-nurse, two retired firefighters and two police officers. My personal network has many more. They’re all heroes.

So I was thrilled to learn how my work family helps emergency responders do their best.

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Discuss: hotel reviews, statistical wisdom and confirmation bias

If you read SAS blogs but never click through to the comment sections, you're missing some great information.

Need proof? Check out some of these comments from the last few weeks. And then leave one of your own.

Kelly McGuire has been studying the effects of negative hotel reviews online. How do travelers react to user generated photos and reviews? How much do they influence your own reservations? One commenter on McGuire's Reviews, ratings and hotels post says:

I am pragmatic enough to understand that any business dealing with the public will get occasional bad reviews. Some may be deserved while others are generated by a curmudgeon who "got up on the wrong side of the bed." Too many though not offset but higher reviews tells me to avoid a hotel no matter what price point they are out.

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Path analysis with SAS Visual Analytics

Introduction

Understanding the behavior of your customers is key to improving and maintaining revenue streams. It is a an important part when crafting successful marketing campaigns. With SAS Visual Analytics 7.1 you can analyze, explore and visualize user behavior, click paths and other event-based scenarios. Monitoring the customer journey by visualizing all touch-points in your organisation will help you to identify gaps and improve the overall customer experience. Flow visualizations will help you to best understand hotspots, highlight common trends and find insights in individual user or aggregated paths.

In path analysis you are typically trying to determine a sequence of events in a particular time window. For example you pay attention to paths more frequently used than others in order to understand what path prospects take before they become new customers. Path analysis works best with linear event streams such as customer life cycle (1. prospect, 2. trial subscription, 3. customer, 4. product upgrade, etc.) but is also commonly used for web usage analysis. As a data scientist you may look for optimal paths to compare with paths customers have actual taken. This often reveals interesting insight and opportunities for revenue improvements.
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