Netflix prize winner to deliver SAS Global Forum keynote


Chris Volinsky, the director of statistical research at AT&T Labs, will deliver the keynote address for the communications industry track at SAS Global Forum in San Antonio. In addition to his expertise in advanced analytics for telecommunications, Chris is a member of a team of researchers that provided the best recommendation algorithm in the Netflix prize. The team has several published paperson their winning strategy.

I’ve been a happy Netflix customer for over four years. For a reasonable monthly fee, Netflix delivers a steady stream of DVDs to me via the US mail. Another company could probably match the Netflix inventory and delivery process, but Netflix has a big advantage over competitors. Netflix uses my movie ratings to predict how well I will like other movies. These recommendations are the result of analytics. I’ve enjoyed many movies that I would never have known about otherwise, like Danny Deckchair. Netflix is the first example cited by Tom Davenport in his book, Competing on Analytics.

One the advantages of working at SAS, is our ability to attract the most impressive thought leaders to speak at our conferences. For example Dan Tapscott, author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything - delivered the keynote at the Las Vegas Premier Business Leadership Series. The premise of this book is that no company has a monopoly on expertise, so the smart companies leverage external resources for competitive advantage. The Netflix prize is a great example of the process at work.

By offering a $1,000,000 prize to anyone that could improve the recommendations by more than 10 percent, Netflix was able to get access to the best analytical expertise anywhere in the world. As a director of statistical research at AT&T Labs, Chris Volinsky is one of those rare individuals with the expertise to use advanced analytical methods to solve complex telecommunications industry problems. Attracted by the Netflix challenge, Chris and his colleagues won the 2007 progress prize by improving the algorithm by 8.43%.

I am very pleased to add Chris Volinsky to the list of thought leaders that have addressed SAS conferences.


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Ken King

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