4月 172012

How big does big data need to be before it is valuable?

High Performance Analytics levels the Big Data playing field

High Performance Analytics levels the Big Data playing field

The value in big data is within reach of everyone.  It could mean wanting to mine a couple of extra fields about the customer or wanting to improve the customer profile using unstructured data about customer interactions using Hadoop. Most articles and hype about big data surround the three Vs;  Velocity, Variety and Volume.  However, we should never lose sight that big data is relative to your business plan. The real conversation to be had is about the value in being nimble. 

The 4th (V)alue: The intersection of big data and high performance analytics
High performance analytics is the next generation of analytical focus as we work our way through the era of big data looking for optimal ways to gain insight in shorter reporting windows. It is all about getting to the relevant data quicker and delivering that information in real time. High performance analytics is equipping David-sized organisations with the tools to level the playing field.  Examples include:

  • How a bank determines credit risk assessment in seconds instead of hours.
  • Where a government agency improves social welfare by analysing unstructured citizen interaction data.
  • An insurance company that uses census data to improve marketing response rates.
  • How an online business analyses social data to understand sentiment, and behavioral data to improve campaign targeting.

Regional healthcare provider and an insurers point of view

I recently listened to an Australian healthcare customer discuss their version of big data and high performance analytics. It went like this.

Through some acquisitions we have increased our data base size by approximately 15 percent.  This has resulted in our marketing teams being frustrated with longer than usual time-to-market for gaining customer intelligence and executing campaigns.  Further compounding the issue is the competitive pressure coming from recent changes in government legislation, which is driving customers to shop around.  This increase in competition means marketing needs to be more nimble.  Meaning more campaigns to fewer people with more relevance.

Another example is a local Insurance customer I met with to discuss their version of big data, high performance analytics and real-time analytics.

We have issued our sales force with iPads.  The challenge we face is, how do we deliver intelligence to our sales representatives in a manner where we know it is relevant, timely and contextual?  We know they are meeting with prospects and customers but how do we analyse customer data, analytical data, transactional data and interaction data to provide a Next Best Offer in seconds?

If we understand how to beat Goliath, do we know what to beat him with?  A high performance approach leads us to think about the problem differently and look for a solution that optimises the analytical jobs and the way they were architecturally executed.  I expect there is a target value proposition heading my way, now.

Under the hood: high performance analytics is not that scary

We often think of new technology as being like a Ferrari, always thinking it is out of reach or too complex for the average David.  The reality is high performance analytics provides various approaches that span the spectrum of your maturity and size, from:

  • Moving existing analytical models into operational processes for real-time decisions.
  • Optmising analytical jobs to leverage your existing in-database power.
  • Using in-memory analytics to take advantage of cheaper hardware.
  • Building an enterprise analytical platform to drive down TCO while always prioritising business value using a grid based approach.
  • Visually exploring big data using high-performance, interactive, in-memory capabilities to understand all your data, discover new patterns and publish reports to the web and mobile devices.

The democratisation of analytics, especially high performance analytics has allowed every company whether Goliath or David-sized to benefit from big data.  Over the next few weeks we will be discussing the impact of the intersection with big data and high performance analytics.  In particular providing examples relevant to the world we live in left of the date line. Join the discussion to find out what the innovators are doing and lessons we can learn locally.  You can see some more examples here.

What is your big data opportunity? Tell us in the comments below.

tags: big data, customer intelligence, Hadoop, healthcare, high performance analytics, HPA, in-memory analytics
11月 012011
When discussing fraud and abuse, it often (very often) becomes a philosophical discussion of whether aberrant activities are fraudulent or abusive. The quick difference being that fraudulent is intentional and abuse is not.  The distinction quickly becomes an issue of legal and illegal as opposed to right and wrong. What [...]
7月 082011
Due to the rapid changes in both the health care market and more specifically the amount of fraud being committed in it, it is even more important than ever to maintain some degree of life cycle management to update the analyses used to detect and identify aberrant activity.

However, many organizations do not have the resources or the expertise to maintain the performance of their analytical methods. Quite a few organizations build transactional rules or models and then continue to use them for years (in some cases four or five years). And even though the analysis has degraded (sometimes by as much as 60 percent), they continue to use the same analytical methods year after year.

Without proper tools and methodologies in place, it is very difficult to manually maintain fraud analytical methods.

Continue reading "Why life cycle management matters for health care fraud analysis"
5月 182011
We are very pleased to co-sponsor a terrific Webcast with PharmExec Magazine on May 19 at 2:00pm ET (available on demand afterward) titled, Customer Intimacy – the Pharma Challenge. This is our opportunity to zero in on an industry with dynamics so complex that customer analytics holds great promise.

Like the closely related healthcare and health insurance plans industries, the pharmaceutical industry operates in regulatory environment that can make simply identifying their customers as straightforward as the lines in a bowl of spaghetti. So what does that do for marketing to them effectively? Just think about how purchase decisions can be made for pharmaceuticals – whether it is over the counter or prescription medications.

Let’s see - Am I their customer? I sure am! Is my doctor their customer? Yep – she is, too based on what she prescribes. How about my health insurance plan? Well, they do weigh in on some choices, don’t they? (like requiring generics, for example) Do I ever ask the pharmacist at the corner drug store for advice? Oh yeah, I almost forgot about them. Do hospitals buy pharmaceuticals? Of course - many of them by the truckload. How about the federal government? Ever hear of Medicare Part D?? Sure enough – CMS is also a customer (a big one) of pharma companies, when seniors are the patients. How about state governments? A fair number of them provide subsidies to some portions of their populations. I could go on and on with just identifying "customers" for pharma companies because each one of those entities named above exerts some influence in the decision for which drug to use. In the end, however, it always comes down to the patient actually taking the drug.

So the question for pharma boils down to this – how intimate can your marketing be with your customer? With all those layers and lines in the mix, that appears to be the $825 Billion question. And with increasingly digital-savvy, socially-connected consumers, can pharma companies be relevant with consumers? Can they engage with them in ways that create lasting relationships that build long-term value?

Well, it turns out that intimacy (and the marketing success that results) is not as elusive as one might expect. We invite you to tune in to hear this engaging discussion with experts from Sanofi-Aventis (Hans Sjoquist), Digitas Health (Mark Miller) and a Marketing Professor from Oklahoma State University (Dr. Goutan Chakraborty). Our esteemed panel plans to explore how to:

  • Gather deeper insights to customer behavior and needs,
  • Manage the unique challenges that the world of digital presents,
  • Leverage new found insights for meaningful dialogue to boost relevance, and
  • Create a continuous learning process to constantly improve.

Tune in and let us know what you think!
5月 022011
SAS is very pleased to co-host a Webinar with HealthScape Advisors on May 4, 2011 at 1:00pm ET, produced by AHIP. This Webinar will highlight the role that customer intelligence can play in helping health insurance plans manage the challenges of healthcare reform, and is titled: Manage the Challenges of Healthcare Reform with Advanced Customer Intelligence and Engagement Strategies. It promises to be a fascinating discussion as the three panelists bring their broad perspectives to bear on the interesting crossroads the industry faces: dramatic regulatory change coupled with an imminent transition to a consumer-driven marketplace.

Health Insurance is one of those industries about which it seems everyone has an opinion, and emotions can run high whenever it comes up in conversation. I’ll never forget going to the movies to see “As Good As It Gets,” with Helen Hunt, Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear back in the late ‘90s. The story line includes injuries, illnesses, treatments and the like, and at one point someone gets denied coverage and the Helen Hunt character yells “[expletive] HMOs!” in frustration. At that moment, everyone in the audience with me erupted in applause. Would that same audience have cheered if the same character praised the access to care made possible by the HMO that might not otherwise have been possible? I'm just wondering.

So - jeers or cheers? That’s a big question that executives in any business (including health insurance) should care about in our world of the empowered consumer. Why? Because it matters. It impacts both the top line and to the bottom line. It is not a marketing or customer service issue – it’s a business issue. Examples abound about what happens to companies described as somehow mistreating customers, but if you need convincing, type “breaks guitars” into your favorite Internet search engine and then click on the first 10 links it finds. You’ll learn about a musician who chose YouTube as his medium to express frustration with how an airline handled his baggage issue. Then you can also read about all the blog posts and articles written about how it affected that airline.

So, the issue is not so much that one person with one problem can grab a megaphone and tell the world about it and your stock price tanks. The issue is that one person sharing their experience with friends, having it strike a chord with others who’ve been treated similarly and before you know it, millions of people validated a customer issue that's not isolated and that you may or may not have known about. I propose you think of that example in terms of these two questions:

  1. Do airlines today comply with baggage handling regulations? They probably do. Did they in that case? They probably did.
  2. But do customers agree that airlines do what they should when addressing baggage handling problems? That’s another question that may be debated over and over again among your customers talking to each other very publicly in social media.

So, do both questions and how they are answered affect the airlines’ bottom lines? Without a doubt they do. And for heavily regulated industries, you can ask similar two-part questions for all sorts of issues, and both of them apply. So before the upcoming AHIP Webinar, ask yourself which are the analogous two-part questions for health insurance plans? And many health insurance plans have come up with innovative ways to engage with their members in ways that do not include forms or EOBs, yet reports are showing that patients are increasingly turning to their peers on social media as a resource for answers and advice. With that happening, are health insurance plans meeting customers on their own turf? Do they have a plan for social media analytics to keep apprised of the buzz and know what it means?

It might seem that social media will turn doing business into a chaotic mess of customers dictating the terms of engagement for everything they buy, but it probably won't play out to that extreme. What it means, however, is that efforts to understand customers and what they value, want and need are no longer simply those cool technologies that give savvy companies the competitive edge. They are quickly becoming essential to doing business, especially if the rules of the game are also changing with regulatory reform. And the value they create are already well established, as I mentioned previously in another blog post. Of particular note is the story for the heavily-regulated telecom giant Verizon, seeing triple-digit increases during the 2009 recession.

You already have a reason to use customer intelligence solutions if your corporate mission includes the word “member,” “patient,” “care,” “people,” “individual,” “customer,” or even “family.” And with regulatory reform also changing the rules of how healthcare is delivered, insured and paid for, customer centricity is not really optional any more. Tune in on Wednesday, or catch the archived version afterward at your convenience at this link. Let us know what you think.
4月 292011
There is a confluence of events happening this month that give us a great opportunity to spotlight one of the most complex and fascinating markets you can find anywhere: healthcare and life sciences (HLS for short).

HLS includes all the industries that relate to caring for the health of individuals, so think of hospitals, health insurance plans, pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, biomedical device manufacturers and the like. In this market, a “customer” could be a “patient” or a “member,” or customers could just as easily be employers, trade unions or other groups that purchase group plans on behalf of their own employees or members.

On top of that, HLS companies operate in a web of different regulations at the federal, state and sometimes county/municipal levels that perform functions such as protecting patient privacy, establishing quality standards, or even defining the funding for certain treatments or procedures. Of course, the complexity grows for any entity operating across borders, which might include similar national/state/local regulations, or even regional entities, such as the European Union.

You might ask - what happens to marketing with all that going on? At the risk of sounding biased, marketing can make a difference in enabling companies to flourish and fulfill their corporate missions, which all seem to include the word “patient,” “care” or some variation on the theme of “customer.” Look for more posts coming soon, where I will highlight:
Until then – be well and let me know what you think. Also, for an engaging illustration of just how complex the HLS market is, check out this post by my colleague, Sarah Rittman, titledManaging the Unmanageable