All work and no play makes Ed a very dull boy. So, I took the family skiing last week. It was a blast. They had a good time out there shivering in the snow, doing stuff like: fall down, get up, repeat. Not my idea of fun. I spent my vacation snoozing inside a nice warm lodge before a fire. Yeah.
We visited Snowshoe, West Virginia. It’s a great place to go for anyone wanting to try winter sports. And I do mean anyone. Ed’s visual impairment did not keep him off the slopes. They have an adaptive ski program there, and he had a great time with those folks.
The team at the Adaptive Sports Center are happy to offer one-on-one lessons for people with hearing, visual, and developmental impairments. They’re available to instruct folks with 3 and 4 track skis, mono- and bi-skis. But don’t go the week beginning February 28. That’s when they hold their Wounded Veterans Camp.
And lest you think I never made it outside, this photo (on the left) is evidence that I did check it out once with Ed and one of his kids.
Thanks for checking in. It's time for me to get back to work.
According to Patent Freedom, patent troll lawsuits have grown by an average of 22 percent per year since 2004 and reached 3716 lawsuits in 2013. Patent trolls, aka Non-Practicing Entities (NPE), assert patents against companies in an attempt to collect license fees, but do not otherwise manufacture products or provide services themselves. They use the cost of the litigation as leverage to force settlements from the operating companies. For small companies, it could mean closing their doors.
While large technology companies seem to come up most often in news coverage of patent trolls, the problem is felt across all industries. One recent case involved a certain software process that SAS and many other software companies provide to customers. The troll made millions from other companies, but SAS and our co-defendants went to court and invalidated the patent. Oddly, another group of companies sued by the patent troll included parking lot management companies. By invalidating the patent, SAS saved those companies from having to decide whether to mount an expensive defense or pay off the troll.
However, the money that SAS and its co-defendants invested in defense costs could have been better spent on investing in developing software and creating new jobs.
In this interconnected world, it is more important than ever to understand not just details about your data, but also how its different parts are related to each other. Social networks reveal often surprising details about what people think about your product or services, how they are linked to other social communities that could influence your business, and even where your influencers are located. Understanding these networks will give your business unique insights and help making decisions such as who to target in your next marketing campaign.
Networks are everywhere. Unlike the abstract world of relational databases, in the real world everything is interrelated. In recent years, companies like Facebook, Google and Wal-Mart have harnessed the power of networks of relationships, information and supply-chains to dominate their competitors. Read More »
When the Apple Macintosh hit the market, analysts were not impressed. But Steve Jobs’ vision ended up transforming our lives. Apple is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has become a global household name. Jobs’ ability to direct his organization to develop easy to use products not only met users’ expectations, but also introduced new ways to use phones, tablets and computers, and set new standards for the industry.
While individual efforts by business units may produce new efficiencies and incremental revenue gains, only leaders can launch and guide coordinated enterprise-wide organizational and business transformation. Leaders use experience and resources to understand their organization’s value chain and their industries. They develop business insight, and use analytics to guide decisions and set strategies.
To start, organizations need to evaluate their current capabilities across four organizational pillars: people, processes, infrastructure and culture. Effective leaders develop strategies to leverage and redirect existing capabilities to achieve their vision.
As we celebrate President’s Day in the USA this week, we’re reminded of and inspired by leaders like Washington and Lincoln who shaped the history of the country. Genuine organizational transformation also requires committed and visionary leaders. The application of analytics to derive business insight helps these leaders fine-tune their vision, validate their assumptions, and develop sound business transformation strategies.
Over the last few years, the main qualifications for a general manager of a sports team have changed dramatically. Gut feel and experience have been replaced by analytical insight and predictive modeling. If Billy Beane started the trend with his Moneyball approach to team building, GMs like Daryl Morey (Houston Rockets) and Theo Epstein (Chicago Cubs) have taken analytics from cool to essential.
And it’s not just GMs that are embracing analytics:
I was recently part of team discussing enterprise architecture with a chief IT architect, and we were explaining how SAS can integrate into their existing infrastructure, add business value on top it and even fit into their future planned infrastructure. This conversation was one of the reasons I blogged about how analytics is the ultimate renewable resource.
Why is the architecture important? Without a system that has been engineered and designed to scale, the breadth and depth of your analytics doesn't matter. After all, if you can't deliver the information to decision makers in a timely manner, it doesn't matter how advanced your analytics are or how well you can solve business problems.
Bridging the Rift between Dev and Ops As a member of the Product Marketing team at SAS, I spend a good part of my time researching – analyst reports, industry journals, blogs, social channels – and listening to what our customers are saying. Early last spring I began noticing the term “DevOps” showing up with more frequency. My background is in programming. I understand Dev, and I understand the role of Ops, or IT Operations. The oil and water act of bringing together Dev + Ops to form DevOps sounds interesting, but there’s more to it than simply removing the space between the two words. So what is DevOps all about?
The term DevOps is new - the concept isn’t I began researching DevOps, and after just scraping the surface, I found myself redirected to topics such as The Deming Cycle, Just In Time, Total Quality Management and even Japanese terms like Kanban and Kaizen. For the most part, these topics explain processes for improving quality and efficiency of manufacturing environments - assembly lines, putting together cars.
Then the light bulb went off. Creating and delivering software applications is not all that different from assembling cars - a series of steps from beginning to end to create a product and deliver it to customers. So just like the assembly line for building a car, software goes through an assembly line process, of sorts, that includes Business, Development, and IT Operations. Since there are methodologies to increase efficiency and quality in end-to-end manufacturing of products, why isn’t there a methodology to drive end-to-end efficiency and quality of the creation and delivery of software? Read More »
From time-to-time marketers, journalist, and thought leaders find ways to describe things in a new way. It’s a time-honored tradition guaranteed to attract eyeballs and sell books. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about the Internet of X, a way of describing a uniquely identifiable collection of objects connected to the Internet. But how many objects are we talking about? It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be 50 billion objects connected to the Internet. Getting to this number requires more than just computers and smart phones. It includes all kind of IP addressable devices. Learn more about the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured, in this short video.
Big Data… What it means to you
See why the buzz about big data continues to grow. Learn how SAS can help you make wiser business decisions by harnessing the power of big data. http://www.sas.com/big-data/
At the Analytics 2013 conference attendees tend to be more technical than those at a standard business confernece. Knowing this, I set out to get a better understanding of what statistical techniques they use to do their analyses. Of course that depends on the business question they are trying to solve. But I thought it would be interesting to see what techniques are favored or used for a particular problem.
Valentine’s Day is one of those make-or-break holidays for gift retailers. They are selling "nice to have" items, not necessities. Many use some type of analytics to segment customers for personalized messages. It's not as straightforward as it sounds, especially if the organization hasn't committed to an enterprise-wide approach to using data. If the organization isn't tracking household spend across different buying channels over time (and multiple holidays), it could be wasting money on catalogs or failing to send the right marketing messages to those primed to buy.
One gift retailer has used analytics to figure out that there are some customers that only buy at a certain holiday (like Valentine's Day). Inundating these customer with messages at other holidays is a waste of money, even a turnoff. But sending a reminder message that “Your Aunt June would love some chocolates this Valentine's Day” before the holiday, triggered a purchase. This effort wasn't possible when different parts of the company held close to their own bits of data and ran promotional offers more from gut feeling than analytical thinking. It took an enterprise-wide effort – and a culture shift directed by C-level executives – to empower those targeted "Aunt June" messages.
Getting to that enterprise-wide view isn't easy. One way to approach it is to use the Information Evolution Model, an approach originally put forth by SAS Senior Vice President Jim Davis in the book Information Revolution: Using the Information Evolution Model to Grow Your Business. This is an enterprise and strategic organization-maturity model for identifying, evaluating and improving information use – one worth the time to learn.