Put down the aspirin and pick up visual analytics

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Rajeeve Kaul, Senior Vice President for OfficeMax

Rajeeve Kaul, OfficeMax

When you hear the term “big data,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Complex numbers? Information overload? Now where did I put my aspirin …? Thanks to visual analytics (VA), it turns out big data doesn’t have to be scary or a headache.

“Big data is not just about the columns, rows or size,” said Rajeeve Kaul, Senior Vice President for OfficeMax, during “The big reveal: What’s your data telling you?” discussion at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference. “It’s about getting closer to how the human mind thinks about data.”

In today’s business world, the Three V’s of big data – volume, velocity and variety – lead to epic challenges and opportunities. To make the most of big data, companies must deal with it in a meaningful manner. For Kaul and OfficeMax, that led to their investment in SAS Visual Analytics, and it’s made a world of difference.

To illustrate his point, Kaul compared using SAS Visual Analytics for the first time to folks going from radio to television. While listening to the radio provided entertainment, TV brought entertainment to life, right before audiences’ eyes.

“We still listen to radio – like while driving in the car – but when we have the choice, we much prefer television,” he said. “The ability to visualize massive amounts of data used to be impossible. Now [SAS Visual Analytics] gives people who aren’t comfortable with standard deviation, etc., the ability to understand what the data is telling them.”

The ability to visualize massive amounts of data – we’re talking a billion rows of data – was impossible to do in the past. Today, not only is it possible, SAS Visual Analytics is great for people who aren’t “numbers people” or statisticians. Anyone can look at SAS Visual Analytics and truly get the picture (pun intended).

“A lot of people will look at the picture and say, ‘oh, now I think I can start asking the right questions,’” explained Kaul. “You were asking questions all along – you just didn’t know they weren’t the right ones.”

Armed with the right questions, you and your company can use data visualization to uncover previously hidden insights about your customers, performance and profitability.

Still a little nervous about making a giant cannonball into the pool? It’s ok to test the waters. Start by visiting the SAS Visual Analytics site, where you can try SAS Visual Analytics 6.1 with a live demo. So go ahead, dip your toes in. (There are no sharks, I promise.)

Embrace the new, and let it astound you. Trust me, you won’t want to go back, and your business will thank you. While it’s nice to turn on the radio and listen to the oldies sometimes, it’s much better to see the modern world in its high-def, colorful glory.

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About Author

Jennifer Griess

Sr. Communications Specialist

Everyone has a story, and as a member of the Thought Leadership, Editorial and Content team, Jennifer Griess helps SAS customers share their success stories. As an interviewer, writer and editor, she speaks with companies and organizations around the globe to learn how they use advanced analytics to make better, bolder decisions to move their businesses – and society – forward in a data-driven world.

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