papers & presentations

2月 282018

Goutam Chakraborty is a busy man. In addition to serving as SAS professor of marketing analytics at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Chakraborty is the director and founder of the SAS and Oklahoma State University MS in Business Analytics and an award winning author and professor. He teaches courses in such areas as business analytics, marketing analytics, data mining, marketing research, and web strategy, and has been preparing students to enter the workforce with advanced skills in marketing and analytics for more than 20 years. Throw in the regular consulting engagements he has with some of the world's top companies and it makes you wonder if Dr. Chakraborty has time to add anything else to his already full plate. Well, this year at least, you add SAS Global Forum 2018 Chair to the list - likely at the expense of a good night's sleep.

As the largest gathering of SAS users in the world, SAS Global Forum will attract more than 5,000 SAS professionals for several days of learning and networking. Recently, I sat down with Dr. Chakraborty to talk with him a bit about this year's conference, which takes place April 8-11, 2018 in Denver. I left excited about SAS Global Forum 2018 and, at the expense of losing credibility as a fair and balanced reporter, convinced that Dr. Chakraborty is one of the nicest individuals you'll ever meet.

Larry LaRusso: I know you've been preparing to chair SAS Global Forum 2018 for more than three years, but now that the event is only a few weeks away, how excited are you to kick this thing off?
Goutam Chakraborty: More excited than you know Larry. I've participated in many SAS Global Forums, but serving as chair gives you the ability to influence every aspect of the event, from speaker and content selection to charity-related events and networking opportunities. It's been a wonderful opportunity to give back to the SAS user community, one I'll never forget.

LL: What excites you most about this year's event?
GC: There are so many new things about this year's conference, all geared toward providing an enriching experience for all SAS users. I'll mention three that immediately come to mind.

One thing we've tried to do well this year is connect industry with academics. While we'll have a full program of events and talks specifically geared toward students and professors, this year we'll emphasize partnerships with industries in a new way. I might be most excited about Sunday's Talent Connection. This event brings students and SAS professionals together to network, discuss career opportunities and share knowledge, research and partnership opportunities that might exist with each other. I anticipate it being a great success for both students and industry looking to connect with young analytical talent.

Another strong focus for us is career development and learning for SAS users at all levels. We'll have a full menu of traditional training and certification opportunities for data scientists, business and data analysts and SAS programmers, but we're also providing opportunities to build on soft-skills development, such as networking, analytical story-telling and much more. We'll also have an on-site Learning Lab, available for several hours each day, where users can explore more than 25 e-learning courses for free.

Finally, I'll mention our volunteer opportunities. We'll have several ways for users to give back, but I'm particularly excited about our STEM-related charity event. During meals and evening networking receptions, both Monday and Tuesday, attendees will have the opportunity to work with RAFT Colorado (Resource Area For Teaching), and build STEM-inspired teaching kits for local teachers to use in their classrooms. Each kit will repurpose educational items RAFT has collected and make them available to teachers as creative tools for teaching STEM – inspiring the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem-solvers and creators. It's an extraordinary opportunity to impact local area children.

LL: Speaking of extraordinary, this year's conference theme is "Inspire the Extraordinary." What does that theme mean to you?
GC: It means never accept "good enough." I always tell my students to push for something above and beyond what's expected of them, to be extra-ordinary. We expect the same for this year's SAS Global Forum. Knowing the event like I do, I feel confident we're going to deliver a SAS Global Forum that surprises and delights our users in a way they didn't expect.

LL: We all know that one of the best things about SAS Global Forum is its incredible content. What can you tell us about the content you’re putting together for this year’s event?
GC: Thanks to tons of hard work and research from a lot of SAS users, we've selected fantastic content from renowned speakers from across the world. Perhaps the best part of our content planning this year is the variety. Topics range from deep hard-core programming to high-level strategic thinking about data and analytics. From sessions that will help you to develop yourself personally as a better human-being to learning about optimizing Monday night NFL schedule for best viewership to thinking strategically about data as a currency – there is something of value for everyone.

SAS Global Forum 2018LL: SAS Global Forum is likely to attract more than 5,000 data scientists, analytics professionals and business leaders. Every year it amazes me how many of those users are attending SAS Global Forum for the first time. What advice would you give first-timers?
GC: First piece of advice: Have a plan and build a personalized agenda so you don’t get overwhelmed by the large number of available sessions. Second, take every opportunity to engage and network with other attendees. One of the best things about this conference is how willing veteran SAS users (regulars at this conference) are to help and welcome newcomers. So, take advantage of it. If you are sitting down for breakfast or lunch, take the time to introduce yourself to people around you. You may be surprised where it could lead. I'd also encourage attendees to take time to visit the Quad. The Quad is a casual and interactive space where attendees can network with other SAS enthusiasts, view demos and visit with experts from SAS and our sponsors. And, last but not the least, have some fun! Attend the social events we have planned, especially the Kick Back Party at Mile High Stadium on Tuesday evening.

LL: As an academician, I know you’re passionate about learning? What additional learning opportunities, beyond the session talks, are available to attendees?
GC: There are so many learning opportunities at SAS Global Forum that it is mind-numbing. Of course, the 20 and 50 minute session talks are the main modes of content delivery, but there are also e-posters, table talks and super demos in the Quad. We'll also have dozens of pre-conference tutorials, post-conference training, and all the activity in the Learning Labs, including hands-on workshops and the ability to take individual e-learning courses.

LL: Given your personal interests, I know one of your goals for this year’s conference is to increase participation in the event for students and professors. Can you tell me a little more about the special events you have planned for this audience?
GC: For starters, SAS Global Forum is completely “free” for students! As long as you are a full-time enrolled student of an accredited, degree-granting academic institution you can attend free of charge. There are credit hour minimums that must be reached to be eligible, so I'd encourage students to visit the website for complete details.

Programmatically, we have the Sunday afternoon sessions entirely dedicated to academics. We have a fantastic academic keynote speaker, Temple Grandin from Colorado State University, and special training sessions for professors interested in teaching analytics at their universities. For students, we offer a number of opportunities to network and special courses, such as how to best use social media for networking while looking for a job, to help them make a successful transition from student to working professional. We also encourage students, and really anyone who has an interest, to attend the presentations students make as winners of the SAS Global Forum Student Symposium Student Symposium. Though closed now, the Symposium provides an opportunity for teams of two to four students and a faculty adviser to showcase their skills and compete with other teams in the application of SAS Analytics in solving a big data problem. This year, more than 60 teams entered; the top eight will present 20-minute talks during the event.

LL: Dr. Chakraborty, I've taken a lot of your time, but is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
GC: Actually, I'd like to thank the many volunteers who have helped put this conference together. From serving on our SAS Global Users Group Executive Board to helping evaluate and select talks, to serving in our Presenter Mentor Program, hundreds of users have invested their time to make this conference the best one yet. SAS Global Forum is truly a user's conference and we depend on the user community to plan, promote and execute so many tasks and activities related to the event. Though I can't call them out by name, I would be remiss if I didn't mention their contributions and take a minute to thank them.

LL: Well let's hope they're reading! Dr. Chakraborty, I want to thank you again for your time. I look forward to seeing you in Denver in April.

Visit the SAS Global Forum 2018 website for more information and to register. Conference Proceedings will be available shortly before the event begins.

Continue the conversation: Join our live Tweetchat, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How are you inspiring the extraordinary?

The next analytics extraordinary use case is just waiting to be discovered. We believe that in the hands of lifelong learners, the future of data is unlimited, especially when education and business join forces. That is why we are warming up to SAS Global Forum 2018 in Denver with a tweetchat on Wednesday 7th March (simply search #SASchat or #SASGF). We kick off at 6pm CET, 5pm UK, noon ET and 9am Pacific. Will you join us? The discussion will kick off with the following questions, posed to our expert panel:

  • Why is there more interest in lifelong learning now?
  • How does lifelong learning contribute to the analytics economy?
  • What are your favorite examples of analytics in the not-for-profit sector?
  • How is the education sector influencing the development of citizen data scientists?
  • What trends do you see in the consumption of analytics?

A conversation with SAS Global Forum 2018 Chair Goutam Chakraborty was published on SAS Users.

2月 162018

pricing and promotionThe consumer packaged goods (CPG) and Retail industry are going through a period of significant change. Both retailers and manufacturers are struggling to find growth and improve profitability. One strategy is through consolidation - e.g., Kraft-Heinz, Keurig- Dr Pepper Snapple Group on the manufacturer side, as well as Safeway-Albertsons, Ahold-Delhaize, Walgreens-Rite Aid on the retailer side. The thinking here is that these mergers would lead to large operational efficiencies and focused growth strategies.

Another important lever to drive growth is pricing and promotion. Companies have realized the importance of getting the pricing right and running high-impact promotions in a highly competitive market. As consumer shop multiple channels and new retail formats begin to permeate (e.g., smaller format stores, new entrants such as Aldi and Lidl), the importance of price-promo continues to increase. Pricing and promotion have become the second largest item on CPG manufacturer’s P&L, after cost-of-goods. Similarly for retailers, price-promo decisions have become critical for growth, maybe even survival. This is manifested in the growth in investment focused on pricing and promotion decisions. In some cases this investment could be as much as 20-25% of net revenue of the company.

However, despite the heavy investment in price-promo, the impact of these decisions is declining. A recent IRI study indicated that the price and promo elasticities (response of volume to pricing change) have been steadily declining over the past 3-4 years. Consumers are willing to buy less when faced with decreases in “regular or base” price as well as promoted price.  The study indicated that the “lift” from promotions had decreased by about 1,000 basis points over the past four years.  There is, therefore, an immediate need to manage price and promotion decisions in a more creative and impactful manner.

Three areas of improvement

What does this mean? What can companies do to improve the impact of their pricing and promotion investment? We believe that there are three important areas of improvement. The first area is around a more refined understanding of the impact of price-promo decisions.  The new focus is on understanding the true impact of merchandising through both traditional and new lenses, including stockpiling, cross-retailer pricing and advanced price engines. Being able to more accurately predict the pattern of consumer behavior allows for automation and faster and better decisions.

The second area is around rapid and dynamic decision making. This involves a focus on new techniques such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to drive price-promo decisions. AI/ML is already getting entrenched within demand identification, product development and in-market execution as well as marketing. Within CPG and retail pricing, this will be accomplished by (a) speed in dealing with the regularly-repeated manual tasks in an efficient manner and (b) new levels of insight and accuracy based upon market trends that enable pricing analysts to focus their efforts on the areas that matter in a dynamic manner. It is imperative to move from a user-driven, manual pricing adjustments to dynamic “smart solutions.”

Another important area of change in pricing and promotion is “personalized pricing;”that is allowing manufacturers and retailers to customize price-promo decisions towards individual consumer/shopper segments. This is done by combining frequent shopper (FSP) data with traditional price-promo modeling for an in-depth evaluation of merchandising strategies as well as developing custom offers that would stimulate demand within these segments. IRI research shows that FSP/loyalty card holders react differently to brand price changes. For example, Brand Loyals react stronger to base price changes, while Brand Non-Loyals react stronger to base price reductions, promotional prices and quality merchandising tactics​.

In our session titled “New Frontiers in Pricing Analytics” at the SAS Global Forum 2018, we will provide a detailed overview of the state of the industry and how it is evolving. We will provide an overview of the new techniques and technologies in this space as well as where things are headed in the future. We hope to see you there.


Shifting sands in pricing and promotion was published on SAS Users.

2月 032017

I will begin with a short story.

SAS Global Forum, Content is KingLike many employers, McDougall Scientific, my employer, requires its employees to review, with their co-workers and managers, what they learned at a conference or course. They are also asked to suggest applications of their learnings so that McDougall might realize value from the expense, both in time and money, of sending them to continuing education events.

Fei Wang, my co-worker, and I attended SAS Global Forum last year in Vegas. During her presentation to co-workers upon our return, Fei not only provided a comprehensive overview of the conference format, sessions, and learning opportunities, but she also chose one presentation to highlight that will fundamentally improve one of our business processes.

Although Fei attended many sessions and learned much, session 8480-2016, with thanks to Steven Black, will save McDougall enough time and money to dwarf the expenditure of sending Fei to SAS Global Forum.

“But John,” you might ask, “why not simply search the proceedings after the conference?” Well, because we would never think to search for CRF annotation automation. Innovation of this sort is more easily found by attending the conference. Discovering valuable nuggets like Steven’s idea is a common occurrence at SAS Global Forum.

The value that employers realize from SAS Global Forum is the reason “content is king,” a cliché first introduced by the magazine publishing industry in the mid-1970s.

Our speakers represent every region of the world!

Though there are a number of really great benefits from attending the conference, great content continues to reign supreme at SAS Global Forum.  This year’s conference is no different. The 2017 Content Advisory Team has assembled a stellar lineup of well over 600 sessions; invited speakers, contributed papers, hands-on workshops, tutorials and posters. And, I am very proud to report that 25 countries are contributing speakers this year, with every region of the world represented: North, Central, and South Africa, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. This sort of global diversity brings new ideas and new ways of looking at and solving problems that really grows your knowledge and helps move your organization forward.

In addition to all of this great technical content, we have made special effort to organize sessions that help SAS Users better present their work. As Melissa Marshall famously claims, “Science not communicated is science not done.” Therefore, in keeping with the SAS Global Users Group’s mission to champion the needs of SAS users around the globe, here is a sampling of sessions that will help you better communicate.

The list starts with Melissa herself!

Present Your Science: Transforming Technical Talks
Session T108, Melissa Marshall, Principal, Melissa Marshall Consulting LLC

This versatile half-day workshop covers the full gamut: content strategy, slide design, and presentation delivery. With a dynamic combination of lecture, discussion, video analysis, and exercises, this workshop will truly transform how technical professionals present their work and will help foster a culture of improved communications throughout the SAS community.
Read More

How the British Broadcasting Corporation Uses Data to Tell Stories in a Visually Compelling Way
Session 0824, Amanda J Farnsworth, Head of Visual Journalism, BBC News

… data is often seen as a dry, detached, unemotional thing that's hard to understand and for many, easy to ignore. At the BBC, employees have been thinking hard about how to use data to tell stories in a visually compelling way that connects with audiences and makes them more curious about the world that we live in. And, there is an ever-increasing amount of data with which to tell those stories. Governments are publishing more big data sets about health, education, crime, and social makeup. Academics are generating huge amounts of data as a consequence of research. Businesses and other organizations conduct their own research and polling. The BBC’s aim is to take that data and make it relevant at a personal level, answering the audiences' number one question: what does this mean for me?
Read More

Convince Me: Constructing Persuasive Presentations
Session 0862, Frank Carillo, CEO and Anne Coffey, Senior Director, E.C.G. Inc.

Data outputs do not a persuasive argument make. Effective persuasion requires a combination of logic and emotion supported by facts. Statisticians dedicate their lives to analyzing data such that it is appropriate supporting evidence. While the appropriate evidence is essential to convince your listeners, you first have to be able to gain and maintain their attention and trust. Persuasive presentations fight for hearts and minds, and are not a dry, unbiased recitation of facts or analyses. This session is designed to provide suggestions for how to utilize successful structures and create emotional connections.
Read More

Data Visualization Best Practices: Practical Storytelling Using SAS®
Session T117, Greg S Nelson, CEO, Thotwave Technologies LLC.

Data means little without our ability to visually convey it. Whether building a business case to open a new office, acquiring customers, presenting research findings, forecasting or comparing the relative effectiveness of a program, we are crafting a story that is defined by the graphics that we use to tell it. Using practical, real-world examples, students will learn how to critically think about visualizations.
Read More

Presentations as Listeners Like Them: How to Tailor for an Audience
Session 0408, Frank Carillo, CEO and Anne Coffey, Senior Director, E.C.G. Inc.

Data doesn't speak for itself. We speak for it, and how we do that influences how people view and interpret that data. One of the most overlooked aspects of presenting data is analyzing the audience. At no point in history have speakers had to face such heterogeneous audiences as they do today: there might be many as five different generations in the room, cross-functional teams have broad areas of expertise, and international companies integrate different cultures and customs. This session is designed to teach attendees how to analyze not the data, but the listeners. Who is your audience? What is important to them? What is your message …?
Read More

tags: papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum

At SAS Global Forum, Content is King was published on SAS Users.

1月 172017

Editor's note: Charyn Faenza co-authored this blog. Learn more about Charyn.

As the fun of the festive season ends, the buzz of the new year and the enchantment of SAS Global Forum 2017 begins. SAS Global Forum is a conference designed by SAS users, for SAS users, bringing together SAS professionals from all over the world to learn, collaborate and network in person. Sure, online communication is great, but it’s hard to beat the thrill of meeting fellow SAS users face-to-face for the first time. It feels like magic! To help you prepare for the event, Charyn and I wanted to share a few things including information on metadata security. Read on for more.

Start your SAS Global Forum journey now!

SUGAWant to stay up to date with SAS Global Forum activities, and get a head start on your conference networking? Join the SAS Global Forum 2017 online community. Here you can post questions, share ideas, and connect with others before the event. While you are at it, the SAS User Group for Administrators (SUGA) community also feels magical for me.  As part of the committee, we regularly get together (virtually!) to discuss and plan exciting events on behalf of SAS administrators around the world.  Join the SUGA community and watch for upcoming events, including a live meet-up at SAS Global Forum! That event is scheduled for Monday, April 3, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Security auditing

During his workshop at SAS Global Forum 2014, Gregory Nelson pointed out that the SAS administrator role has evolved over the years, and so has one of their key responsibilities: security auditing. Once you’ve set up an initial security plan, how do you ensure that the environment remains secure? Can you just “set it and forget it?” Probably not. Especially if you want to ensure regulatory compliance, to maintain business confidence and keep your SAS platform in line with its design specifications as your business grows and your SAS environment evolves.

Thinking about your own SAS platform:

  • What would happen in your organization if someone accessed data they shouldn’t?
  • When was your last SAS platform security project?
  • When was it last tested? How extensive was it? How long did it take?
  • Have there been any changes since it was last tested? Whether they are deliberate, accidental, expected or unexpected.
  • How do you know if it’s still secure today?

Presenting at SAS Global Forum

If security is important to you and your organization, please join us at this year’s magical SAS Global Forum, as I co-present with Charyn Faenza on SAS® Metadata Security 301: Auditing Your SAS Environment. Hold your horses… “301?,” Did I hear that right? “What about 101 and 201?" Glad your curious mind asked... At the last two SAS GLOBAL FORUM events, Charyn has presented SAS Metadata Security 101 and 201 papers that step through the fundamentals on authentication and authorization. Check them out at:

Our upcoming 301 paper will focus on auditing to complete the three ‘A’s (Authentication, Authorization and Auditing), including how you can use Metacoda software to regularly review your environment, so you can protect your resources, comply with security auditing requirements, and quickly and easily answer the question "Who has access to what?"

Here are the details for our paper:
Session Title: 786 -  SAS Metadata Security 301: Auditing your SAS Environment
Type: Breakout
Date: Tuesday, April 4
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Dolphin, Dolphin Level III - Asia 4

Our security journey


Whether you’re a new SAS administrator or an experienced one, you’ll know that security is a journey rather than a destination.

To help make sure you’re on the right path, check out the SUGA virtual events, SAS administrator tagged blog posts, Twitter #sasadmin and

sas-security-journey02If you’d like to chat more about SAS security auditing, please comment below, join our chat in the SAS Global Forum community, or connect with us on Twitter at @HomesAtMetacoda, @CharynFaenza.

Looking forward to seeing you in April at SAS Global Forum 2017 in the enchanting and magical Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Orlando, Florida!

About Charyn Faenza

charynMs. Faenza is Vice President and Manager of Corporate Business Intelligence Systems for First National Bank, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB). An accountant by training, she is passionate about not only understanding the technology, but the underlying business utility of the systems her team supports. In her role she is responsible for the architecture and development of F.N.B.’s corporate profitability, stress testing, and analytics platforms and oversees the data collection and governance functions to ensure high data quality, proper data storage and transfer, risk management and data compliance.

Throughout her tenure at F.N.B. her experience in data integration and governance has been leveraged in several cross functional projects where she has been engaged as a strategic consultant regarding the design of systems and processes in the Finance, Treasury and Credit areas of the Bank.

Ms. Faenza earned her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Youngstown State University where she is currently serving on the Business Advisory Board of the Youngstown State University Laricccia School of Accounting and Finance.

tags: papers & presentations, SAS Administrators, SAS Global Forum, SAS User Group for Administrators

Take a SAS security journey at SAS Global Forum 2017 was published on SAS Users.

12月 222016

melissa_marshallEditor's note: This following post is from Melissa Marshall, Principal at Melissa Marshall Consulting LLC. Melissa is a featured speaker at SAS Global Forum 2017, and on a mission to transform how scientists and technical professionals present their work.  

Learn more about Melissa.

Think back to the last technical talk you were an audience member for. What did you think about that talk? Was it engaging and interesting? Boring and overwhelming?  Perhaps it was a topic that was important to you, but it was presented in a way that made it difficult to engage with the content. As an expert in scientific presentations, I often observe a significant “disconnect” between the way a speaker crafts a presentation and the needs of the audience. It is my belief that the way to bridge this gap is for you, as a technical presenter, to become an audience centered speaker vs. a speaker centered speaker.


Here I will provide some quick tips on how to transform your content and slides using your new audience centered speaking approach!

Audience Centered vs. Speaker Centered

The default setting for most presenters is that they are speaker centered—meaning that they make choices in their presentation because it is what works primarily for themselves as a speaker. Examples include: spending a lot of time speaking about an area of the topic that gave you the most difficulty or that you spent the most amount of time working on or using terms that are familiar to you but are jargon for the audience, putting most of the words you want to say on your slides to remind you what to say during the talk so your slides are basically your speaker notes, and standing behind a podium and disconnecting yourself physically from your audience. These choices are common in presentations, but they do not set you up for success. It is a key reason why many presentations of technical information fail.

A critical insight is to realize that your success as a speaker depends entirely upon your ability to make your audience successful.  You don’t get to decide that you gave a great talk (even if no one understood it)!  That’s because presentations, by their very nature, are always made for an audience.  You need something from your audience—that is why you are giving a talk!  So, it is time to get serious about making your audience successful (so you can be too!).  I might define “audience success” as: your audience understands and views your subject in the way you wanted them to.  Strategically, if you desire to be a successful speaker, then the best thing you do is go “all in” on making your audience successful!

Audience Centered Content

To make your content more audience centered, you can ask yourself 4 critical questions ahead of time about your audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they know?
  • Why are they here?
  • What biases do they have?


The answers to these questions will guide how you begin to focus your content. Additionally, as a presenter of technical information, one of the most important questions you need to answer along the way, at many stages in your presentation, is “So what?”.  Too often presenters share complex technical information or findings, but they do not make the direct connection to the audience of how that information is relevant or important to the big picture or overall message.  Remind yourself each time you share a technical finding to also follow up that information with the answer to the question “So what?”.  This will make your content immediately more engaging and relevant to your audience.


Audience Centered Slide Design

Think about the last several presentations that you sat through as an audience member.  How would you describe the slides?  Text heavy? Cluttered? No clear message? Full of bulleted lists?  Audiences consistently complain of “Death by PowerPoint”, which refers to the endless march of speakers through text filled slide after text filled slide.  The reason this is so detrimental to audiences is that our brains have a limited “bandwidth” for verbal information.  When we reach that limit, it’s called cognitive overload and our brains stop processing the information as effectively and efficiently.  When you have a speaker talking (the speaker’s words are verbal information) and then you have slides to read with lots of words on them (also more verbal information), you are at a high risk of cognitive overload for the audience.  Therefore, many audiences “tune out” during presentations or report feeling exhausted after a day of listening to presentations.  This is a result of cognitive overload.  A more effective way to approach slides for your audience is to think about making your slides do something for you that your words cannot. You are giving a talk, so the words part is mostly covered by what you are saying…it is much more powerful to make your slides primarily visual so that they convey information in a more memorable, engaging, and understandable way. This is known in the field of cognitive research as the Picture Superiority Effect.  John Medina’s excellent book Brain Rules states that “Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later.” 

A great a slide design strategy that I advocate for is called the assertion-evidence design.  This slide design strategy is based in research (including Medina’s mentioned above) and works beautifully for presentations of technical information. The assertion-evidence slide design is characterized by a concise, complete sentence headline (no longer than 2 lines) that states the main assertion (i.e. what you want the audience to know) of the slide. The body of the slide then consists of visual evidence for that take away message (charts, graphs, images, equations, etc.). Here is an example of a traditional slide transformed to an assertion-evidence slide:



Having trouble banishing bullet lists? One of my favorite quick (and free!) tools for getting yourself past bulleted lists is Nancy Duarte’s Diagrammer tool.  I like this tool because it asks you what is the relationship between the information that you are trying to show and creates a graphic to show that relationship.  Remember: the best presentations use a variety of visual evidence!  Charts, graphs, pictures, videos, diagrams, etc.  Give your audience lots of visual ways to connect with your content!

Final Thoughts

Next time you present, I encourage you to let every decision you make along the way be guided first by the needs of your audience.  Remember, the success of your audience in understanding your work is how your success as a speaker is measured! For more tips on technical talks, check out my TED Talk entitled “Talk Nerdy To Me.” For questions, comments, or to book a technical presentations workshop at your company or institution, please contact me at

About Melissa Marshall

melissa_marshallMelissa Marshall is on a mission: to transform how scientists and technical professionals present their work. That’s because she believes that even the best science is destined to remain undiscovered unless it’s presented in a clear and compelling way that sparks innovation and drives adoption.

For almost a decade, she’s traveled around the world to work with Fortune 100 corporations, institutions and universities, teaching the proven strategies she’s mastered through her consulting work and during her 10 years as a faculty member at Penn State University.

When you work with Melissa, you will get the practical skills and the natural confidence you need to immediately shift your “information dump”-style presentations into ones that are meaningful, engaging, and inspire people to take action. And the benefits go far beyond any single presentation; working with Melissa, your entire organization will develop a culture of successful communication, one that will help you launch products and ideas more effectively than ever before.

Melissa is also a dynamic speaker who has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For a sneak peek, check out her TED talk, “Talk Nerdy to Me.” It’s been watched by over 1.5 million people (and counting).

Visit Melissa and learn more at

Melissa can be reached at

tags: papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum

Transform your technical talks with an audience centered approach was published on SAS Users.

12月 132016


Editor's note: Amanda Farnsworth is Head of Visual Journalism at BBC News and a featured speaker at SAS Global Forum 2017, April 2-5, 2017 in Orlando.

My days are spent trying to put the best content we can in front of our loyal, heartland audience, while reaching out to others, particularly on social media, who may never usually come to the BBC for their news.

It can sometimes be hard to reach both audiences at the same time.

But recently we hit on a format that does exactly that. We call it The Personal Relevance Calculator. We have made a whole series of these calculators on different topics, including “The Great British Class Calculator” (yes we Brits are still obsessed with Class!) and “Will a Robot Take Your Job.

The idea is to take a big data set that tells a story and make it personally relevant to each and every user. Readers simply enter a small amount of personal information – it could be their age or height and weight, or a postcode of where they live – and the result they get back from the calculator is unique, or appears to be unique, to them.  This result is given in a rich, visual way and is very shareable on social media.

The advantages are a much deeper engagement in the subject than we might get by writing a traditional article and they are usually very popular, getting millions of hits, likes and shares. They also appeal to the parts of the audience other BBC content doesn’t reach.

Case Study - Who Is Your Olympic Body Match?

You can find the Olympic Body Match calculator using this link:

At the BBC, we know that the Olympics provide us an opportunity to reach a part of the audience that doesn’t often think of us.  Let’s call them Main Eventers – they are people who don’t like to be left out of those water cooler conversations when a big national or international sporting event is going on.  So they want some way of engaging with a story that they often don’t know much about. Perhaps they are not big sports fans.


Enter our calculator. By putting in your height, weight, date of birth and sex, our calculator matches you with the Olympic athlete most like you. Simple but very engaging!

We took care to make the calculator a rich, visual experience with beautiful illustrations drawn by one of our designers. We also used the colourful, carnival branding that our Marketing department came up with and which was used across all BBC Rio 2016 output during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This didn’t look like a scary sports story, but more of a fun way to be part of the buzz that surrounds the Olympics.

The Calculator Results in Detail

After putting in the four pieces of personal information, the first result showed you how your height compares with the full range of Olympic athletes in Rio.

The next page did the same with your weight, the third with your age. And finally you were shown the 3 athletes most like you.


You may have guessed that these are images of my own Olympic Body Match – I’m not sure being most like an Estonian Wrestler is quite what I had expected!

Hitting the share button generated a box pre-populated with text that enticed the users who received the results to have a go themselves. A link to the calculator is also embedded in the tweet, along with another attractive illustration.

The data and what we did with it.

The data for this interactive was from the Olympic Data Feed, which is used by the BBC and other broadcasters to show the results of all the different events. As part of this feed, the height, weight and age of over 10,000 athletes was available for my team to repurpose.

So far, so good. But it turned out not all the data was available ahead of time. A lot of the information was collected in the days running up to the Games, as the athletes started arriving in Rio, making things a little tight for our development deadlines. To solve this problem we made some test content using figures from the 2012 London Olympics, which we swapped out later for the Rio figures. (The figures for the British track and field team, of particular interest to us, arrived just as the Games were starting.)

As the real data started to come in, we kept our eyes peeled to see who would be the tallest, shortest, heaviest and lightest athletes, as we wanted to highlight them in our graphics, to show the interesting and extreme range of body types represented at the Games.

But, here we had to be careful. As with any dataset this large there was bound to be the occasional glitch, especially when you’re looking for the outliers. Initially the dataset looked as if it contained a rower weighing improbable 200 kilos, and a swimmer whose height was well over seven feet tall.

By checking back with the source, we were able to work out which outliers were incorrect, and which outliers were the right ones for us to focus on.

The shortest athlete was Brazilian gymnast Flavia Saraiva (4ft 4in); the tallest was Li Muhao a Chinese basketball player (7ft 2in).

The data was provided to us through XML feeds.  We matched our readers with the athletes using Euclidean distance. Where someone’s height and weight created more than three matches we picked the athletes whose own birthdate was closest to our reader’s as a way to break ties.

Audience Reaction

Our Body Match Calculator had 4m browsers, 5.8m page impressions and an engagement time of just over a minute.

The audience was 37% female and 63% male – using the gender people matched with as a proxy.

There was good engagement going down the page, with 66% of browsers filling in the form and getting to their results at the foot of the page.

It also did really well on social with this thread on reddit generating nearly a 1,000 comments.

tags: big data, papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum

Making data personal: Big data made small was published on SAS Users.

11月 292016

Present at SAS Global Forum 2017est plus près de la maison, está más cerca de casa, está mais perto de casa, dichter bij huis, is closer to home, eh!

In analytics and statistics, we often talk about sample sizes. The size of the data sets that you analyze are a measure of the amount of information contained within those data. When observations are very similar or correlated due to study design, then the information added by having multiple (correlated) observations may be negligible. This is a common problem with clustered data; the information contained in clustered data is closer to the number of clusters than to the number of observations. As a result, study designers seek to measure many clusters.

When it comes to global presenters, SAS Global Forum is seeking more clusters.

Global representation at SAS Global Forum enriches the conference experience for all attendees, providing each of us with more innovation and information to advance the goals of our organizations.

However, we know that attending our conference from the far corners of the globe is expensive … but not as expensive as it used to be! We’ve got good news for SAS users who reside outside the contiguous 48 states of the United States (residents of Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories, read this carefully!).

To ease the financial burden of travelling from afar to the conference, two new policies have been adopted by the SAS Global Users Group – largely in response to your concerns about cost.

Doubled discount for accepted contributed sessions

Each year, SAS Global Forum attracts about 700 proposed sessions from the user community. The review process is competitive as we can only accept 400 session talks. To attract even more submissions from around the globe, we’ve raised the registration discount from 25% to 50% for accepted proposals from the international user community. If you reside outside the 48 contiguous States, and your abstract is approved, you will automatically receive the 50% discount when you register.

As of the writing of this blog, SAS Global Forum 2017 will include four sessions from Africa, ninefrom Australia, 18 from Asia, 12 from South America and the Caribbean, 37 from Canada, 21 from Europe, and 23 from the United Kingdom. With this new policy, we expect far more in 2018 and beyond!

International Professional Awards

Forty SAS Users will be selected from submitted applications to have their registration fee waived. SAS Users who reside outside the contiguous 48 States can apply by completing the application found on the conference website. In this application, you will be asked to describe your SAS experience, barriers to attendance, and about your commitment to attend. Submitters of contributed content are eligible.

We are certain these changes will help make SAS Global Forum the most diverse, international conference yet! I look forward to meeting many SAS users from near and far in Orlando. See you there! Or should I say Wir sehen uns dort! Ci vediamo lì! Nähdään siellä!

tags: International Professional Awards, papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum

SAS Global Forum 2017 is closer to home, or should I say… was published on SAS Users.

9月 212016

mwsug-2016-logoI started out as a Psychology major. During my third year as an undergraduate, I was hired on as a research assistant for my advisor in her cognitive psychology lab. Through this and progressively more complicated psychological research experience, I quickly grew to love statistics. By the end of that year, I decided to declare it as a second major. My first introduction to SAS was as a fourth-year undergraduate psychology student - still new to my statistics degree curriculum and working on a large-scale meta-analysis project spanning years of data. I had never programmed before seeing my first SAS procedure. I broke down in tears, terrified at what I had gotten myself into. I toughed it out (with help from my statistics professor), finished my psychology honors thesis with top grades and went on later to use SAS in my statistics thesis for good measure.

About a year later, in 2011, that same statistics professor encouraged us to submit our work for presentation at MWSUG, sweetening the deal with a promise of extra credit if we did. I hopped on that opportunity and submitted both my psychology thesis as well as my statistics thesis that night. A couple of months later, I received an email…they accepted both of my papers and awarded me a FULL student scholarship to attend!

I have come a long way from presenting my first thesis projects (I just arrived home from my 27th conference last weekend). I have learned to love not only SAS, but the statistics behind each procedure. This year, at MWSUG 2016 in Cincinnati, OH. I will be presenting 3 projects. One project will be in ePoster format. As the chair of this section (yes, this is correct. I’ve gone from terrified student to a section chair!), I felt the need to support it with my own research as well. This project is dedicated to the common and very pesky concept of Multicollinearity.

What is Multicollinearity? Why, it is precisely the statistical phenomenon wherin there exists a perfect or exact relationship between the identified predictor variables and the interested outcome variable. Simply put, it is the existence of predictor co-dependence. Coincidently, it is quite easy to detect. You can do so with three very simple to utilize options and one procedure, such as those given in the below example:

/* Examination of the Correlation Matrix */
Proc corr data=temp;
Var hypertension aspirin hicholesterol anginachd smokingstatus obese_BMI exercise _AGE_G sex alcoholbinge; Run;
/* Multicollinearity Investigation: VIF TOL COLLIN */
Proc reg data=temp;
Model stroke = hypertension aspirin hicholesterol anginachd smokingstatus obese_BMI exercise _AGE_G sex alcoholbinge / vif tol collin;    
Run;     Quit;

Through the CORR procedure, we can examine the correlation matrix and manually check for any predictor variables that show high correlation with other variables. In our REG procedure, we can indicate the VIF, TOL, and COLLIN options in the MODEL statement to pull information measuring the variance inflation factor, tolerance, and collinearity.

Would you like to learn more about how to interpret the results produced by these procedures? Would you like to learn ways to control for multicollinearity after it has been detected? Come check out my poster at MWSUG 2016, October 9-11 in Cincinnati! I would love to chat about your multicollinearity issues, interest, or just other curious questions.

tags: MWSUG, papers & presentations, US Regional Conferences

Multicollinearity and MWSUG – a beautiful match was published on SAS Users.

6月 302016

SAS Global ForumI look forward to SAS Global Forum each year and this past conference ranked up that as one of the best I've ever attended. This year there were so many wonderful presentations, Super Demos and workshops on the topic of administration of SAS and the underlying hardware infrastructure needed for SAS applications. Below you'll find a list of the top 15 presentations based on attendance. We hope you find these papers useful.

10360 - Nine Frequently Asked Questions about Getting Started with SAS® Visual Analytics
2440 - Change Management: The Secret to a Successful SAS® Implementation
8220 - Optimizing SAS® on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 and 7
SAS6840 - Reeling Them Back In Keeping SAS® Visual Analytics Users Happy, Behind the Scenes
SAS2820 - Helpful Hints for Transitioning to SAS® 9.4
SAS6761 - Best Practices for Configuring Your I/O Subsystem for SAS®9 Applications
10861 - Best Practices in Connecting External Databases to SAS®
SAS6280 - Hands-On Workshop: SAS® Environment Manager
SAS5680 - Advanced Topics in SAS® Environment Manager
9680 - SAS Big Brother
SAS4240 - Creating a Strong Business Case for SAS® Grid Manager: Translating Grid Computing Benefits to Business Benefits
10962 - SAS® Metadata Security 201: Security Basics for a New SAS Administrator
8860 - SAS® Metadata Security 101: A Primer for SAS Administrators and Users Not Familiar with SAS
9920 - UCF SAS® Visual Analytics: Implementation, Usage, and Performance
11202 - Let the Schedule Manager Take Care of Scheduling Jobs in SAS® Management Console 9.4

Note: It's hard to believe, but we're already thinking about topics to present at SAS Global Forum 2017. If you have suggestions for SAS Administration paper topics you'd like to see at next year's conference, please share your thoughts in the comments below or contact me directly. 

tags: papers & presentations, SAS Administrators, SAS Global Forum

15 top Global Forum 2016 papers for SAS administrators was published on SAS Users.

10月 202015

HotSkillsSASGood news SAS users; you are a hot commodity. That’s the primary message Kirk Paul Lafler from Software Intelligence Corporation and Charlie Shipp of Consider Consulting Corporation delivered to a room full of users at MWSUG 2015.

Citing figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a recent CNN Money report, Lafler highlighted the value of SAS knowledge and noted a rising demand for individuals with SAS proficiency. According to the sources, SAS programmers can expect an average salary in excess of $90,000 a year with a projected growth rate that tops 22%.

“When I got out of college I was making what is now less than minimum wage and I was glad to get that offer,” Lafler said. “Now, individuals with analytical skills are getting internships for salaries that make me drool.”

Big data offers even bigger opportunities. With all the buzz around data science and demand for individuals with analytical skills outpacing supply, Lafler said big data is one of the “hot” skills for today’s SAS professionals. But it’s far from the only growth area.

Lafler encouraged SAS users to learn more about SAS Structural Graphics, Hash Objects, ODS, and Metadata. “Learn as much as you can about metadata,” Lafler recommends. “As the world collects more data, metadata is becoming more important. Become familiar with metadata, dictionary tables and SASHELP views.”

If you want to learn SAS, Lafler says the SAS University Edition makes it easy. If your parents or children want to learn more about SAS or what you do, they no longer have an excuse. “Have them download SAS software and start learning. The only restriction, it has to be used for learning only.”

For those looking to advance their existing career, Lafler encourages you to invest in yourself. Becoming certified will differentiate you from other analytical professionals. “Don’t be afraid of SAS’ certification exams. Download University Edition and purchase the Certification Prep Guide. I’m a terrible test taker. If I can do it, anybody can do it. You’ll learn so much by preparing for an exam.”

Lafler said SAS has great resources to help you expand your expertise. His recommendations include:

Lafler also offers a proven, step-by-step roadmap to help you in your pursuit of career excellence. To assist in getting started, Lafler and Shipp offer a self-survey questionnaire to help you assess where you are and the skills needed to achieve your goals.

The process is easy:

Step 1: Identify the skills you currently possess.

Step 2: Rank each skill (e.g., 4=Expert, 3=Proficient, 2=Some Working Knowledge, 1=Heard of it, 0=None).

Step 3: Identify your level of competence (e.g., 3=Cutting Edge, 2=Competitive, 1=Out-of-date, 0=None).

Step 4: Categorize each skill by functional discipline (e.g., programming, design, analysis, teaching, consulting, marketing, etc.)

The resulting matrix will help you determine what skills you’d like to pursue. Armed with this knowledge you can create a plan to improve your skills, and build your expertise.

Despite his glowing report Lafler had some final words of advice that went beyond SAS or the world of analytics. Develop a passion for your chosen field and become dedicated to something greater than oneself. “My father shared this bit of wisdom that I’ll now share with you. Love what you do. When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

View Lafler and Shipp’s complete paper.

tags: MWSUG, papers & presentations, SAS Programmers, SAS resources

Hot skills for SAS professionals was published on SAS Users.