Seven of my favorite big data presentations from SAS Global Forum 2106

favorite big data presentations from SAS Global Forum 2106Nowadays, nearly every organization analyzes data to some degree, and most are working with “Big Data.”  At SAS Global Forum 2016 in Las Vegas, a vast number of papers were presented to share new and interesting ways our customers are using data to IMAGINE. CREATE. INNOVATE., as this year’s conference tagline reminds us.

Below you’ll find a collection of a few of my favorites on big data topics, ranging from SAS Grid Manager to Hadoop to SAS Federation Server. The common point? It’s easier than ever to modernize your architecture now. I hope these papers help you continue to advance your organization.

Paper 2020-2016: SAS® Grid Architecture Solution Using IBM Hardware
Whayne Rouse and Andrew Scott, Humana Inc.

This paper is an examination of Humana journey from SAS® 9.2 to SAS® 9.4M3 and from a monolithic environment to a SAS Grid Manager environment on new hardware and new storage. You can find tips such as the importance of understanding the old environment before starting and applying that understanding to building the new environment.

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Use a stack container to pick your category in SAS Visual Analytics Reports

Pick your category? If this title seems familiar, that’s because in my last blog, Use parameters to pick your metric in VA Reports, I covered how to use parameters to allow your users to pick which metric they want to view in their visualizations. This is a great technique that offers a solution to many report requirements.

But, what if your users require specific axes labels and titles for your visualizations? What if your users require reference lines? If you encounter these requirements then consider using a stack container to meet these needs.

Let’s take a look; but first, here is a breakdown of the report we will be looking at in this blog. This report does not have any report level prompts but it does have two section prompts. Section prompts filter the data for every object on this section. There is a drop-down list control object that prompts the user for Year, and there is also a button bar control object that prompts the user for Continent.

Then in the report body there is a list control object, a text box and a stack container. The list control object prompts the user for Country. The text box provides the first half of the report title. And the stack container provides a way to organize multiple visualizations on your report; it layers or “stacks” the objects as if they were in a slide deck. The stack container provides navigation options to cycle through the visualization objects that were added. In this example, I added two bar charts and one line chart object to the stack container.

Use a stack container in SAS Visual Analytics

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Are you solving the wrong problem?

Solving Business Problems with SASBeing a SAS consultant is about solving problems. In our day-to-day work we solve myriads of all sorts of problems – technical problems, data problems, programming problems, optimization problems – you name it. And in the grand scheme of things we solve business problems.

But without a well-defined business problem, all our problem-solving efforts become irrelevant. What is the benefit of optimizing a SAS program so it runs 2 seconds instead of 20? Well, you can claim a ten-fold improvement, but “so what?” if that program is intended to run just once! Given the number of hours you spent on such an optimization, you were definitely solving the wrong problem.

The ice cream maker

There was one event early in my life that made an unforgettable impression on me and forever changed my problem-solving mindset. When I was a teenager, my father and I bought Mom a present for her birthday – an ice cream maker – a little bowl with a slow electrical mixer that you place into a fridge. Yes, it was a cleverly self-serving gift on our part, but, hey, that was what she really wanted!

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Seeing the FREQ procedure's one-way tables in a new light

ProblemSolversPROC FREQ is often the first choice when you want to generate basic frequency counts, but it is the last choice when it is compared to other statistical reporting procedures. People sometimes consider PROC FREQ last because they think they have little or no control over the appearance of the output. For example, PROC FREQ does not allow style options within the syntax, which the REPORT and TABULATE procedures do allow. Also, you cannot control the formats or headings with statements in the procedure step.

Sometimes, a simple frequency (via a one-way table) is all you want, and you don’t want to have to create an output data set just to add a format. A one-way table in PROC FREQ is unique also in that it includes a cumulative count and percent. These calculations cannot be done in other procedures without additional code or steps. However, there is a simple way to make some basic modifications to your table. By adding a PROC TEMPLATE step to modify either the Base.Freq.OneWayFreqs or the Base.Freq.OneWayList table template, you can change the formats of the statistics, move the label of the variable, change the labels of the statistics, and suppress the Frequency Missing row that appears below the table. These changes apply to all output destinations, including the traditional listing output.  You can also use PROC TEMPLATE to make small modifications to the nodes that are generated by one-way tables in the table of contents for non-listing ODS destinations.

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Creating custom reports from the Data Mart

EnvironmentManagerMy previous blog discussed the SAS Environment Manager Report Center, and talked about its organization, and how to start using some of the prompts to get the reports you want. The next step is to learn to use some of the example reports provided to help you design your own, production-level reports.

It’s helpful to distinguish ad-hoc, or exploratory reporting, vs. standardized, production-style reports, which might be run daily, weekly, or any other number of times. You can experiment with many ad-hoc reports and create hundreds of variations and different reports “on the fly,” just by manipulating the various parameters provided within the Report Center interface. Perhaps more importantly, you can use knowledge gained from this process to design more permanent production reports, using some of the provided examples as “templates.”

First, you need to understand the basic structure: All the SAS Environment Manager Reports are SAS Stored Processes available from the Stored Process web application. Most of them accept user prompts that specify many details about the data to include and the way the output should appear. Then, the stored process passes these parameters to a small set of reporting macros, which perform the data manipulations and produce the actual report using well-known SAS Procedures.

In addition to all the pre-defined reports, there are two sets of example reports specifically intended to be used as templates from which you can develop your own custom report. Often, this only requires a few changes to parameters being passed to the reporting macro. These example reports are located here:

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Couldn’t attend SAS Global Forum 2016? Here are a few highlights, resources and thank-yous

Highlights from SAS Global Forum 2016SAS Global Forum 2016 recently concluded and by all measures it was a huge success. With more than 5,000 attendees, hundreds of crazy-good talks and countless networking and learning opportunities, it very likely was the best SAS users’ conference yet. To put a bow on this year’s event, and help those who were unable to attend enjoy some of the great content, I’ve put together a few highlights from SAS Global Forum 2016, with some helpful links, videos and several additional resources to explore.

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Improving matching results in DataFlux Data Management Studio with cluster comparison

Trusted data is key to driving accurate reporting and analysis, and ultimately, making the right decision. SAS Data Quality and SAS Data Management are two offerings that help create a trusted, blended view of your data. Both contain DataFlux Data Management Studio, a key component in profiling, enriching monitoring, governing and cleansing your data. Clustering, or grouping similar names or addresses together, is one data quality activity that helps to reduce the number of duplicates in a given data set. You do this by using fuzzy matching to group similar names or addresses together. As an example, a marketing analyst might want to remove duplicate customer names or addresses from a customer list in order to reduce mailing costs.

Have you ever wondered how the cluster results would differ if you changed the match code sensitivity for one of your data columns, or removed a column from one of your cluster conditions or added a new cluster condition? Well, wonder no more!

The Cluster Diff node in DataFlux Data Management Studio compares the results of two different Clustering nodes based on the same input data.  This is useful for comparing the results of different cluster conditions and/or different match code sensitivities.

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SAS Mobile BI FAQ

SASMobile_BI_FAQSAS Visual Analytics users view and interact with reports on their desktop computers or laptops. Many, however, have never heard of the SAS Mobile BI app or how it extends the viewing and interactive capabilities of their reports to mobile devices. SAS Mobile BI app is simple to download to a mobile device, and you can immediately view some sample SAS Visual Analytics reports from within the app.

If your organization has deployed SAS Visual Analytics, but is not taking advantage of the ability to view and interact with reports via mobile devices, I urge you to consider it.  Almost every type of interaction that you have with a SAS Visual Analytics report on your desktop – you can do the same with reports viewed in SAS Mobile BI!

It’s worth noting that having SAS Visual Analytics in your organization is not a requirement for downloading this nifty, free app on to your Android or iOS mobile devices.  Once you download the app, you can view and interact with a wide spectrum of sample SAS Visual Analytics reports for different industries.

Like what you see?

If so, talk with the SAS Visual Analytics administrator in your organization and ask them to enable support for viewing your SAS Visual Analytics reports in the SAS Mobile BI app.

To give you a little more guidance, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about SAS Mobile BI.

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Choose your own adventure with SAS Viya

SASViyaI’ve been giving presentations about SAS® ViyaTM for a couple of months now, and the reactions have been positive. I’m part of a much bigger cast of speakers at SAS who talk about the new analytics platform with key customers and analysts. While some presenters focus on the overarching benefits or the integration with previous versions of SAS, I get to focus on hands-on demonstrations. My style is to show SAS Viya technology in use, which helps attendees understand the different user experiences.

The demonstrations I show use anywhere from 90,000 to 2.5 million observations. Sometimes I’m looking for fraud or sometimes I’m looking for opportunities to reduce attrition. No matter what business problem I’m trying to solve, I like to show four different ways to tackle the problem, depending on the user persona and skillsets.

First, I show SAS® Visual Statistics. This is a suitable interface for business analysts and citizen data scientists. I can point and click to do a logistic regression and find an answer. Or, I can start to explore my data with SAS® Visual Analytics before I do any modeling.

Running a logistic regression in SAS Visual Statistics

Running a logistic regression in SAS Visual Analytics (click to enlarge).

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Is your new grid behaving oddly?

New default parameter values for Platform Suite for SASNew default parameter values for Platform Suite for SAS

Sometimes, when your kids grow older, they change their habits and you don’t recognize their behaviors any more. “We play this game every year at the beach. Don’t you like it anymore?” you ask. “Dad, I’m not seven years old any more”.

Well, Platform Suite for SAS is not seven any more. And its default behavior has changed, too.

Recognizing the release

Platform Suite for SAS ships with SAS Grid Manager offering, and (almost) every SAS maintenance changes the bundled release. It includes different products that do not share the same numbering sequence.  we are currently (as of 9.4M2) shipping Platform Suite for SAS version 8.1, which includes LSF 9.1.1.

Any new release adds additional features, expands the list of supported operating systems and increases the flexibility in configuring your environments. But the default values of the main parameters, that characterize how the software behaves out of the box, are usually untouched. Until now.

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