Teradata talks trends, challenges, predictions at A2012


Bill Franks, aka Dr. Insight

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Analytics 2012 will offer you opportunities to hear from a few of our valued partners, including Teradata, who will be hosting three roundtable discussions that are sure to satisfy your analytics appetite:

  • The Analytic Challenges of Unstructured Data
  • Considerations for Determining Analytic Architecture(s) within your Organization
  • What's "in" to Managing Big Data Analytics: the Impact of In-Database and In-Memory for the SAS User

Check out the roundtables and other special events going on at this year’s conference.

For a sneak preview of what his esteemed colleagues will be discussing on October 9, Bill Franks, Teradata Chief Analytics Officer, author of the new book Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave, and leader of the illustrious League of Analytic Heroes, answered some questions for us about current analytic trends and A2012:

What do you see as the hottest trend(s) in analytics?

One of the hottest trends is the focus on the role of a “Data Scientist.” The upside of this label is that it is bringing positive attention to the world of analytics. The downside is that what is getting lost in the hype is the fact that really good analytic professionals have always been focused on the processes currently being associated with data scientists, albeit with sometimes different toolsets and data. What this means is that organizations who have already embraced analytics likely already have on staff some very talented people who can fill the role of data scientist for them.

Tied to the above trend is the rise of "big data" and the use of new tools that help prepare big data for use within analytic processes. These new technologies have a place and can be valuable.  However, it will require some additional training and time for analytic professionals to get up to speed. Also, major vendors are enabling users to leverage the new technologies through their tools. For example, the work SAS is doing to leverage the Hadoop distributed file system.

In the end, all of the new data and the new tools can only help analytic professionals continue to have an impact. We can expect the breadth of analytics within organizations to continue to grow.

What are some challenges that analytics professionals are facing today?

Perhaps the biggest is the sheer volume of both analysis requests and data coming at them.  With many of the requests requiring new data or tools, there is a learning curve with causes a short term hit to productivity. Leveraging a new tool always entails a learning curve. Using new data sources does too as there is much to learn about the characteristics of the data before it can be put to meaningful use. So, analytic professionals are constantly required to push themselves to learn new things today.

Another big challenge is the need to operationalize and scale analytic processes like never before.  With the advent of both big data and near real-time analytics, many traditional approaches just don’t work anymore. This is requiring the re-architecting of processes even if the substance of the process is still the same. Once again, this takes time and energy to do correctly and analytic professionals often have to fight for the time required to be given to them to do things right.

How will high-performance analytics (big data) affect our world?

High performance analytics is a term used for the next wave of technologies and approaches that enable us to scale analytics further than in the past. By having systems that can now produce in seconds or minutes what once took days or weeks, it opens the door to a wave of analytic innovation.

Having things so much faster can certainly enable even more of the same old processes to be built.  For example, building response models for every campaign rather than just the biggest campaigns.  But more important, is the fact that analytics that just weren’t feasible suddenly become possible. For example, the updating of risk models daily or weekly with the freshest data instead of using the same models for weeks or months at a time.  More iterations of models can be built against more data points for more problems than ever before. As companies push to build analytics into operational processes, such scale will be a huge benefit.

What career advice would you give to an analytics professional to grow in their field?

Analytics is a hot field right now. I am amazed at how much it has grown since I first got into it a couple decades ago. I can’t see how having experience with analytics will be anything but a plus for most job functions in the future.  So, even if someone decides to change careers, I think that the experiences gained as an analytic professional will be valuable.

Perhaps the most important thing to grow is to always focus on helping solve a business problem with an approach that is analytically sound and yet takes into account practical considerations and constraints.  People love someone who can help them solve their problems. Creating a bunch fancy analytics without solving a problem really won’t get you too far. The most desirable career paths will for those who can span the worlds of business and analytics seamlessly.

What will attendees learn by visiting the Teradata booth in the Exhibit Hall?

Attendees will be able to learn all about the work SAS and Teradata are doing to enable scalable, enterprise level analytics. We have some very exciting joint products that include both in-database and in-memory functionality. We’ve done a lot of work together over the last 4 – 5 years to bring together the SAS suite of leading analytic tools and the Teradata suite of leading scalable data warehousing platforms. Our joint offers allow analytic professionals to maximize the scale and complexity of their analytics processes, while allowing the results to be operationalized effectively.

We also have a robust set of professional services resources to help organizations put all the pieces to use. Some of them will be at the booth. We’ll also have information on our exciting Analytic Hero campaign. I’d encourage all attendees to stop by the booth and see what that’s all about. They might even end up with their own analytic hero character, including comic book illustrations and an action figure!

What are you most looking forward to at the Analytics Conference?

I always enjoy listening to the sessions and hearing what people are doing with analytics. It is also nice to bump into old colleagues who I don’t get to see very often.

Be sure to stop by and learn more about what SAS and Teradata are doing together.  And, be sure to ask Dr. Insight about our League of Analytic Heroes!



About Author

Scott VanValkenburgh

Senior Director, Alliances

Scott VanValkenburgh is Senior Director of Alliances at SAS, leading the company’s global efforts for its partner relationships. VanValkenburgh was the founder and Managing Partner of The Sequoia Architecture Group. He also served as a Principal for PricewaterhouseCoopers within their Management Consulting Services Practice’s Information and Technology Practice. While at PwC, VanValkenburgh helped FORTUNE 500 corporations create, develop, evaluate and implement ERP, CRM and client/server strategies and solutions.

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