From the pyramids of ancient Egypt, through the classical architecture of Greece and Rome, to the elegance of 19th century Paris; Las Vegas takes the best from history and brings it into one place. In the same way, Analytics 2012 has brought the best minds in analytics together for two incredible days.
Looking Forward with Confidence
Monday started off with a keynote presentation by Timothy Rey from Dow Chemical. Dow Chemical has succeeded for over a century and now manufactures more than 5,000 products. Timothy explained how the amount of data available to help enhance Dow's forecasting models has exploded over the past few years. So much so, that the issue now is to identify and process the relevant variables. Tim showed how Dow had used SAS technologies to achieve this and deploy a large-scale sensing model to identify trends, reduce costs and look forward with confidence.
Dealing with Missing Data is Crucial but often Overlooked
Next, I attended a session presented by Dudley Gwaltney of SunTrust Bank on dealing with missing data. Dudley explained that dealing with missing data was a crucial, but often overlooked, part of data analysis. He outlined a series of, often quite simple, but effective methods of data interpolation; including the value of the fundamental, but often forgotten, median. In the discussion afterwards, delegates shared their experiences of dealing with missing data, including using procs mi and expand.
It's Not about the Numbers, it's the Story that the Numbers Tell
In this inspiring speech, Frank Payne of PQC International asked a controversial question. Is analytics worthless? Well it is if it leads to no action. And to lead to action, analytics must tell a story that decision makers can understand. As Frank emphasised, it's not about the numbers, it's about the story the numbers tell.
Politics and Behavioural Analytics
From gerrymandering to targeted campaign messaging, politicians have always drawn on analytical techniques to help their campaigns. In this presentation, Hamid Nemati of North Carolina State University showed how behavioural analytics was used, most recently, to aid Obama's victory in the presidential primary against Hilary Clinton and then in the presidential election.
Hamid then used clustering techniques to identify significant political clusters in Wake County, North Carolina. He pointed out, however, that as American politics has become more polarised over time, there was only a small sliver of swingable votes and these were now the focus of campaigns.
As an Englishman, I was struck by the similarity of Hamid's clusters to those that can be found in the United Kingdom. Here too, political voting patterns can be predicted based upon geography, income, gender and race.
High Performance Analytics
The highlight of the conference was Dr. Goodnight, Oliver Schabenberger and Randy Guard who demonstrated the new HPA technologies. It was great not only to see SAS Visual Analytics, but also how in-memory processing could be simply accessed through familiar SAS code.
They say that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But at Analytics 2012 let's hope that's not true. Check out the Analytics 2012 YouTube playlist filled with speaker interviews and some full-length session recordings.