Playing in Everyone’s Backyard


One of my all-time favorite quotes is from John Tukey: “The best part about being a statistician is you get to play in everyone’s backyard."?

Statistics (and more broadly, analytics) contributes to and draws from multiple disciplines. There is a unity to analytical methods: The same method used in quantitative geography might be used by econometricians, psychometricians, political scientists, chemometricians and others. This unity is bred from diversity and this diversity fuels further innovation.

To paraphrase Robert Gentleman, no single paradigm will do everything. We couldn’t agree more. SAS has long recognized that multiple paradigms are needed to better formulate and solve problems, reveal opportunities and make better decisions. To that end, we provide multiple, integrated languages, including data manipulation, procedural, statistical, matrix, algebraic, scripting, and macro languages. We also provide the ability to integrate with other languages like SQL, C, Fortran, PMML and R. In addition to language-based approaches, we provide a highly interactive, dynamic, in-memory visualization paradigm with JMP.

This week I've had the pleasure of interacting with customers serving on our Analytics Customer Advisory Board. The participants are senior, strategic-thinking “chief analytics officers"? in their organizations. The analytical backgrounds in this group (as well as on the SAS side) include statistics, operations research, engineering and other quantitative disciplines. The analytical perspectives are different, but we share a drive to continuously learn and improve, and to promote more fact-based decisions. For this to occur, people, process, culture and technology have to be analytically aligned.

Technology, though important, is just one element in the mix. Ultimately, it’s the analytic skills and the highly creative problem solvers in an organization that are so important … and so scarce and valuable. Growing interest in analytics is a win for us all. As Thornton May says in his book, The New Know, "To solve old problems, we need to create new connections. To imagine new possibilities, we need to work across - or erase - old boundaries."

Let's get to work. Many welcoming backyards await!

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About Author

Anne Milley

Sr Director, Analytic Strategy, JMP

Anne oversees analytic strategy in JMP Product Marketing. She is a contributing faculty member for the International Institute of Analytics. She enjoys organic gardening and spending time with her family.


  1. Mike Gilliland on

    For a nice example of "working across boundaries," see the forthcoming F2010 ( presentation by Martin Joseph, Managing Director of Rivershill Consultancy, on "The Application of Process Behavior Charts in Forecasting and Planning." Since his days as Head of Information Managment & Forecasting at AstraZeneca, Martin has been at the forefront of applying statistical process control methods to the problems of business forecasting. In this presentation Martin asks us to think of sales as a process. He proceeds to show how SPC tools can be utilized to assess the stability of sales behavior, how to apply this knowledge to assess risks, and how to develop suitable plans cognizant of the future uncertainty.

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