Data and data crunchers rule: Analytics 2012


Unlike many of you, data hasn’t always ruled my world. Though I took statistics and economics classes in college, I built my academic career around studying history and writing papers like “The Importance of the Family Dinner in Preserving the Italian Culture among Immigrants.” Don’t laugh; it earned me an all-expenses paid trip to present the research at a social history conference in the sprawling metropolis of Rock Hill, South Carolina.  OK, you can laugh.

Coming to the realization that we live in a world ruled by data and that "professional data crunchers" (the ones we used to make fun of in school) are now WAY cooler than I can ever hope to be was pretty sobering. But it's also been quite inspiring.

Since joining SAS, I’ve had the benefit of taking a number of courses on SAS programming and analytics. Just last month, in fact, I took one of our more advanced courses,  Net Lift Models, Optimizing the Impact of Your Marketing Efforts. As the only non-statistician in the class, the content was clearly over my head so I had to promise the instructor that I was there simply to absorb as much as I could, and wouldn't slow the class down with silly questions or interruptions.

The class was excellent and I learned a lot, but my background made me an easy target for our instructor, a celebrated jokester, colleague and good friend. For three days he expertly sprinkled in comic relief at my expense. One of the class favorites went something like this: "Actually Larry is a gifted data analyst. When he heard that most accidents happen within five miles of home, he moved!" Of course, the class howled, but I just smiled. You see, the joke's on them; I moved almost seven years ago and, to date, I still haven't gotten in an accident.

Seriously, when it comes to appreciating the value of making data driven decisions, I've gone from curious observer, to excited convert to rabid evangelist. In fact, I've incorporated data analytics into many areas of my life, including coaching my daughter's softball team. Each game I'd collect detailed statistics, present the data to my assistant coaches and, armed with this knowledge, make adjustments to the lineups and our strategy for future games. We'd often share statistics with the girls, who were 9 and 10 year olds. Despite their young age, I was certain they grasped the value of the exercise until the time I proudly shared with my daughter the fact that she led the team in "SLUG percentage," a common measure for a batter's power hitting the ball. "Yuck dad," was her response. "Slugs are totally gross."

Whether you’re a seasoned data analyst or a recent convert like me looking to learn more about analytics, we have the perfect event for you: SAS’ 14th annual analytics conference,  Analytics 2012, October 8-9 in Las Vegas. The conference features more than 60 top-notch  speakers, access to the latest research and instructive case studies, and a chance to network with more than 1,000 of your analytical peers. We’ll offer talks on a wide range of topics including high-performance analytics, data visualization, forecasting, optimization, predictive modeling, text analytics and more. We’re also offering more than a dozen  training courses and pre-conference workshops for you to learn the latest techniques in data analytics. And if you  register before June 29, we’ll give you a $500 discount off the standard conference fee.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas come October!


About Author

Larry LaRusso

Principal Communications Specialist at SAS

Larry LaRusso is the editor of the SAS Tech Report and SAS Learning Report newsletters and the SAS Users, Learning Post and Analytics U blogs. He has worked at SAS since 2000 in marketing, communications, customer experience and management roles for both the Education Division and External Communications. You can follow him on Twitter @lalaru102.

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