Series: Understanding analytics' role in BCBS 239

The 14 Principles of BCBS 239

Interestingly, the Basel Committee’s Principles for Effective Risk Data Aggregation and Risk Reporting (otherwise known as BCBS 239) begins with a quote from T.S. Elliot’s The Rock:

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

In this age of big data and risk data management, Elliot’s words from 1934 should not ring so true. But for the signatories of the Basel Accords, they peal painfully.  Hopefully, what doesn’t get lost in this post-financial crisis regulation is that those words are significant—not to IT risk—but to risk IT.

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Big data lessons from Google Flu Trends

The Google Flu Trends application has received negative press since 2013 over its inability to accurately detect flu outbreaks. The latest critique, “The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis,” from Science magazine compares Google Flu Trends data to CDC data and dissects where the Google analysis went wrong.

As you might remember, Google Flu Trends was designed to pinpoint flu outbreaks by analyzing search data for flu related keywords. The problem? At least 80 percent of people who conduct flu related searches don’t actually have the flu.

Why does this story fascinate us? Partly because we can relate to it: Most of us have searched Google for medical information, and many of us, at one point or another, have thought we had the flu when we did not. But also because we like complex problems that are hard to solve.

The real lessons, though, are in the analysis. And this story reminds us of some important truths:

  1. Crowd sourced data is dirty data. It needs to be cleaned and managed before using it for any type of official analysis.
  2. Social data is just one data point. Whether you’re working with Twitter, Facebook or Google data, it’s going to be more powerful when combined with other data sources – like CDC data, for instance – and not as a standalone source.
  3. Keep monitoring and evaluating. You can’t just build a model and walk away. You have to monitor results and re-model your data over and over again before you might find an accurate representation of reality.

Be sure to read the Science magazine article for additional (and more scientific) lessons.

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What Colin Powell and Jim Goodnight have in common

Colin Powell

General Colin Powell speaks at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference

Retired four-star General Colin Powell discussed the traits he shared with SAS CEO Jim Goodnight during his morning keynote at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference yesterday. Among them: A clear passion for education, an appreciation for information and a sincere leadership style.

“I’d like to talk about something that’s important in my life, that is also very important to Jim Goodnight, and that’s education,” Powell said in reference to SAS’ continued philanthropy and the SAS® Analytics U announcement.

Powell, who attended public school from kindergarten through college, discussed how he was unable to enroll in any prestigious military schools, like West Point or Virginia Military Institute, because they had yet to be desegregated.

Yet it was in college when he became interested in ROTC, a path that jumpstarted what would become an illustrious military career.

“What I tell kids as I visit schools all across America is, it’s not where you started in life, it’s what you do in life and where you end up in life,” he said.

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Technology Connection offers R&D vision

“My goal is to constantly improve the quality and stability of our software while at the same time innovating,” said Vice President of SAS Resarch and Development Armistead Sapp yesterday at the SAS Global Forum Technology Connection. Hosted by Product Management Director Michele Eggers, the Technology Connection focused not only on technology direction, but on customer collaborations as well.

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'You are modernizing. And SAS is modernizing as well.'

The screen at SAS Global Forum

Opening Session at SAS Global Forum

SAS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis welcomed the Opening Session audience at SAS Global Forumall too appropriately: by using text analytics to create a word cloud, based on CEO Jim Goodnight’s remarks just minutes before.

And he honed in on a word that stood out to him: “modernization.”

“We are in a phase where we have to modernize our infrastructure, modernize our analytic environment to take advantage of the advances that are out there so we can process large amounts of data and do so in a timely fashion.”

Underscoring his point, Davis went through a veritable laundry list of analyst reports from Gartner and Forrester recognizing SAS’ innovation.

He acknowledged that the company not only tries to address issues in its own business but in the marketplace as a whole.

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Hanging out with new friends

I enjoy human kids. When I’m not working, they’re a lot of fun to be around.

Recently, Ed had a speaking engagement with some local students who are visually impaired. They were competing in a contest known as the Braille Challenge, sponsored by the national Braille Institute. And, wow, these kids are good.  (Check out this article to learn more.)

Once he was finished talking, Ed answered questions. Naturally, many of questions were about me, because I’m that gorgeous.  Ed took off my harness—which let the kids know that I was off-duty and that it was okay for them to pet me.

Then a teacher asked if she could pet me too, and before you know it, I was totally feeling the love from so many kind people—students, parents, teachers. Yeah.

It was a good day.

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Analyzing 40 million records per month, with more than 600 traits

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight

If SAS users ever doubted their influence on SAS software, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight put any worries to rest during Opening Session of SAS Global Forum 2014 yesterday.

In front of more than 4,500 attendees, and amidst images of the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol on the main stage of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington DC, Goodnight gave a quick rundown of SAS’ projects in the queue and the customer-based rationale for each.

Goodnight highlighted how new SAS products and SAS’ work in fraud and financial crimes empower customers in IT, the corner office and government. He touched on SAS’ recent partnership with SAP, born out of requests for SAS’ advanced analytics to run on users’ existing in-memory, SAP HANA platforms.

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Calling all unicorns: SAS remains committed to developing analytical talent

Are retailers suffering a skills shortage when it comes to analytics? Nikki Baird from Retail Systems Research (RSR Group) offers some intriguing observations about the critical analytical talent shortage facing the retail industry in a recent article, “Where Have All the Data Scientists Gone? SAS Analyst Day Report Out.” Her observations came after attending the 26th SAS Analyst Conference in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Baird says she has believed for a long time that SAS’ customer insight capabilities are some of retail’s best-kept secrets, and SAS’ understanding of the finer points of size optimization is difficult to match in the industry. We couldn’t agree more.

Unicorn in field

Are retail data scientists as rare as unicorns?

However, Baird admits she’s always been curious about SAS’ focus on selling to the "elusive retail data scientists" whom Baird says she's encountered almost as frequently as unicorns or dragons. Consider this excerpt from her post:

This must be why business intelligence and analytics is such a relative mess in retail. I mean, aside from the startling finding from our latest BI benchmark that there is a large contingent of retailers out there who persist in believing that intuition is more important than information for a lot of functions, if business analysts are driving BI investment decisions then I can easily see how the advantages of an enterprise-wide BI platform go down in flames as each group fights for the tools they like best.

I think the big question for SAS in retail in 2014 and beyond will be focused on these data scientist resources. Will retailers recognize and respond to the need for this layer of resource within the enterprise?

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Quality needs a new paradigm

After decades of trying to "manage" and "control" quality, manufacturers continue to struggle with consistently achieving quality excellence. To conquer the realities of today's marketplace and achieve quality excellence, manufacturers need to adopt an analytic approach to quality.

The basic objective of manufacturers hasn't changed since the beginning - produce a quality product with the features customers want, at a price they'll pay and is profitable. The principles of quality management best practices were established decades ago. So why are organizations still struggling with achieving their quality goals taking market leadership? I've boiled it down to these four things. Read More »

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Who wants to be a billionaire?

The odds may not be in your favor, but SAS Analytics could help you win a huge prize.

As you may have heard, billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert have teamed up to offer $1 billion to anyone who can create a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket. “Wow,” you might say. “How hard can it be to create a perfect bracket? I could really use a billion bucks!”

Well, the answer is “really, really, unbelievably hard.” So hard that in the history of March Madness, no one has ever done it. For you math lovers out there, the odds are supposedly 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

And what if someone is actually able to create this magical winning bracket?

"I will invite him or her to be my guest at the final game and be there with a check in my pocket, but I will not be cheering for him or her to win," Buffett said, jokingly. "I may even give them a little investment advice.” Read More »

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