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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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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Dealing with Dates in SAS Visual Analytics Designer

In a previous blogVisual Analytics audit data collection, I discussed SAS date and time values, and how date and time formats can be used to your advantage in SAS Visual Analytics. That blog addressed some of the features provided for handling date information, like date formats, date hierarchies, and calculated data items based on time intervals.  In this blog, I’ll continue this discussion and share some tips and techniques for working with dates.

Problem: How do I calculate passage of time?

Example: Out of concern over the time taken for delivery of a certain product, we’d like to take a look at the time, from order to delivery of the product, for each order across several years.  The table in memory has data items Product ID, Order ID, Date Ordered, Date Delivered.

Date in Visual Analytics Designer01

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Use parameters to pick your metric in Visual Analytics Reports

Look at the report below. Imagine being asked to allow your users to select which Measure, highlighted in yellow, they are looking at: Income, Expense or Profit. This is a frequent report requirement and I’m going to outline just one of the ways you can design your report to satisfy this request using parameters.

In a previous blog, I talked about Using parameters in SAS Visual Analytics reports to prompt users to drive either an aggregated measure or calculated item. This example will allow your users to dynamically select which measures they want to see in their visualizations.

parameters to pick your metric in Visual Analytics Reports1


  1. Create the custom category to drive the button bar
  2. Create the parameter to hold the button bar’s selection
  3. Create the calculated data item that will hold the selected measure’s value
  4. Add report objects and assign roles

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Data is the new soil; get your hands dirty

SAS Global ForumWhen was the last time an informational graph or chart caught your eye? I mean, really caught your eye in a way that made you want to emblazon it on a greeting card or frame it for your office?

What’s that…never?

Me neither, until I had the opportunity to see some of the striking visuals and graphics by David McCandless and hear about the thought and passion that goes into his work as a data journalist. McCandless, the author of Knowledge is Beautiful, was a keynote speaker at SAS® Global Forum April 21, an event traditionally focused on the more technical and logistical aspects of analyzing data.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was moved by the informative digital images displayed across the conference venue jumbo screens the way some might be moved by a famous painting or sculpture. They revealed depth of understanding and presented analytical findings in such unexpected ways through story, shape, color and connection.

They were beautiful, indeed. But McCandless was quick to point out that it’s important that data visualization transcends aesthetic beauty and aids comprehension

That’s important when you’re faced with billions of numbers and facts. “Images allow us to see something important in a sea of data,” he said. “They tell a story.”

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Solutions for missing DATA step features within DS2

ProblemSolversThe DS2 programming language gives you the following powerful capabilities:

  • The precision that results from using the new supported data types
  • Access to the new expressions, write methods, and packages available in the DS2 syntax
  • Ability to execute SAS Federated Query Language (FedSQL) from within the DS2 program
  • Ability to execute code outside of a SAS session such as on SAS® High-Performance Analytics Server or the SAS® Federation Server
  • Access to the threaded processing in products such as the SAS® In-Database Code Accelerator, SAS High-Performance Analytics Server, and SAS® Enterprise Miner™

Some DATA step functionality is not available in DS2, at least not how you are used to. However, don’t lose hope, because this article discusses ways to mimic some of the missing DATA step features within DS2.

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Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn

SAS Global ForumWhen you attend SAS® Global Forum - a conference where you’re surrounded by data scientists, programmers and those who grew up as the smartest people in the room – you expect to hear talk about big data and advanced analytics.

What you don’t expect to hear are compelling messages about the importance of art, storytelling…and unicorns.

Advice to data analysts

Emma Warrillow, President of Data Insight Group, Inc., delivering her talk at SAS Global Forum

But Emma Warrillow, President of Data Insight Group, Inc., couldn’t have been more convincing in her April 19 session highlighting the magic formula for becoming a well-sought-after marketing analyst. Her first hint: It requires much more than good programming skills.

She believes in the marriage of art and science. “When you put those two together, that’s where you get the wonder,” she said.

Wonder? Maybe that’s where unicorns come in.

In a sense, perhaps. Actually, unicorns – a rare breed of marketing technologists who understand both marketing and marketing technology (with a nod to John Ellett, contributor to Forbes) – are those who take the time to be curious and recognize that storytelling and imagery are like an analyst’s Trojan horse. Warrillow says they’re the way you get in.

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