3月 252009
Stephen E. Wilson, Director of Biometrics III, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was a presenter for the SAS Industry Solutions’ Pharma, Life Sciences and Healthcare section on Tuesday. Wilson, who’s used SAS since he was an undergrad at the University of North Carolina in the mid-1970s, addressed the globalization of clinical research.

“There are big experiments taking place, multicenter trials, 872 in India alone, and by big companies,” said Wilson.

“There are more regions, more trials than ever before. Companies are outsourcing data management, and the government is passing legislation that has implications for what data we collect and how we collect and store it,” said Wilson.

The FDA strives to be a good steward of data, said Wilson, by bringing in data from a number of companies and making it available so that companies can collaborate for the betterment of science.

The volume of submissions is staggering, but as the FDA is working toward a vision of global standards (such as eCTD – electronic common technical documents for uniform submissions), it’s also working hard to keep up with current volume.

According to Wilson, the FDA is looking for programmers and data architects to help with these efforts. “We want you for the FDA,” joked Wilson. He closed by telling the crowd, “We are all still riding the same elephant, and we should all be collaborating and working together.”
3月 252009
Tune into the March 26 episode of DM Radio at 3 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.) as editors from Information Management magazine (formerly DM Review) talk to several experts about the power of analytics. The live Internet radio broadcast will include SAS strategist Tammi Kay George, Forrester Analyst Boris Evelson and SPSS vice president of Customer Analytics, Colin Shearer. Together they'll answer the following questions: Why Analytics are bolstering BI across the board ; How the Cloud can make analytics very affordable ;
Why text analytics can be crucial for BI and customer relationship management
Forrester Research predicts that the BI industry will grow to nearly $13 billion by 2014, despite the current economic downturn. This is due in part because of the power and popularity of analytical software, including text analytics, data mining and predictive analytics.
While that statement comes as no surprise to readers of this blog, I find it exciting that others in the IT and BI world are finally catching on. That's why I'm recommending this short DM Radio session -- so you can invite YOUR manager to listen to this broadcast either live (with opportunity for Q&A) or as an archived recording later. Visit the Information Management site to register and find additional information.

Hot news flash - SAS just signed on as sponsors to the Boston TM summit this June. For those readers who have experience with SAS Text Miner, I invite you to contact me in the next week or two. I may be able to reserve a speaking slot on the program agenda for YOU-with SAS helping pick up your registration and travel expenses. Come see first hand what Teragram and SAS are sharing June 1st and June 2nd.
3月 252009

Kelly LeVoyer from SAS Marketing Editorial spent some time yesterday with Stephen Baker at SAS Global Forum.

At Monday’s SAS Global Forum, I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes to chat with Stephen Baker, BusinessWeek writer, author of The Numerati and SAS Global Forum presenter. In addition to being interested in his book, I had learned from reading about Baker that we had a few things in common: working/living in Latin America, sons named Henry, he lived in Paris (I want to live in Paris), and a (surprising) lack of math training.

Despite the name (which Baker admits that, in hindsight, he might reconsider because it connotes a higher degree of math than he intended), The Numerati is an entertaining read, revealing the analysis and data at play in our everyday lives.

What’s it like being a journalist with a history degree who’s now a numbers rock star?

When I started, I had these two worlds separated, thinking they were so different. I realized as I interviewed the subjects of the book, the numerati don’t think that differently than I do. We all think statistically but we don’t think of it that way. Let’s say a neighbor asks you for $100. You immediately start processing the request: Do I trust him? What are the chances will he pay me back? What are the risks of saying no? And you’re weighing the importance of each question before answering. The people I interviewed are, for example, just trying to determine what consumers think of a certain product. People in business are doing the same thing: How much weight do we put on the fact someone has stayed at a certain hotel? Is that more meaningful to our decision-making than their annual salary? I don’t know how to do the math, but the logic was very accessible to me. [Note: Baker’s math education ended at intro to algebra in school. I barely got past pre-calculus. Finally, someone I actually surpassed in math!]. They just have some tools and know-how I don’t have. And many of them disproved the stereotypes I realized I harbored too.

What was one of your favorite discoveries you made while researching Numerati, and what other discoveries have you made since then?

We all know a lot of things, but sometimes a truth hits us hard and we gain a deeper understanding—I experienced a lot of those. I knew math and numbers connect various domains—meaning , for example, the same algorithms can be used for marketing analysis and cancer research. But I came upon these realizations in surprising ways.

I was looking into blindness with a researcher in Iowa, at how they look for the genetic markers for macular degeneration. It ended up being the process Dave Morgan uses at Tacoda to determine which ads to serve to serve to which people. 

Another even cooler one was the Microsoft researcher, David Heckerman, who is both a physician and a computer scientist, working on software to defend computers against spam. Spammers regularly change their approaches to adjust to the spam filters, so he had to anticipate the changes that the spammers will make. He was anticipating mutations, and realized there might be a medical application. In 2003 he ended up shifting his work to focus on HIV research.

Back on the BusinessWeek side, what is one story you’ve written in the past few years that really stands out to you?

I wrote a story in December of ‘07 about Google’s computer. Google has built world’s biggest, and in many senses, greatest computer.  It’s one huge machine with connections to data centers all over the earth. Many people don’t think of Google as a computer science company—but they can do things that nobody else can do in the world. They built it all out of cheap, practically disposable computers, so if one blinks out, they just plug in a new one. Of course the newer one will be faster, so the computer begins evolving in complexity, like an animal.  

Your personal profile hints that you’ve written a novel. What’s that all about?

Yes, I have. It takes place in El Paso, deals with a bad lazy journalist who writes a bad story and gets a death threat from a Mexican drug lord, which makes him into a hero. I wrote it with the idea that I would get it published, turn it into a screenplay, make some money and live someplace cheap and warm. That plan didn’t work out. And then BusinessWeek sent me to Paris.

That’s not a bad consolation prize.

No, it certainly wasn’t!

Any ideas churning for a sequel to Numerati?

I’m working on a proposal. It’s in the same vein, but a bit less about the business side of things, more about the research and the experience of what happens when the Numerati have their way with you.

Oh my. And then Baker autographed my copy of The Numerati:  “For Kelly, Had a nice time talking with you, give my best to Henry. Stephen Baker, March 09.”

3月 242009
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Ed Hughes’s answers.

Ed Hughes, SAS/OR Product Manager

Ed, tell me a fun fact about you that would make your personality come alive for the readers.T
here are 104.5 regulation ice hockey pucks stacked neatly in the windows of my office, ten pictures of goalies (not counting mine) on my walls, and I'm pretty sure that I have the only Buddy Holly bobble head in all of SAS. I've been getting hit in the mask with hockey pucks for more than 23 years, and let's just say that shows in my personality as well as in my office décor!

104.5 hockey pucks?
That's just an estimate; one of the 105 total pucks is a small promotional puck that I found in a sports shop outside Zurich (along with, incredibly, a regulation puck for the local team—precisely was what I was looking for). The half-size puck advertises a hockey equipment manufacturer.

I also have two HP foam pucks that I think HP gave away at SUGI 29 in Montreal. It’s always interesting
when I toss one of them at an unfortunate office visitor and they think it's a real puck.

I guess from your last answer, you’ve been to previous SAS Global Forums?
Yes – ten times. I went in 1998 and then from 2000-2008. My most memorable experiences were at SUGI 23, when Lockheed-Martin Astronautics, a SAS/OR customer, won an Enterprise Computing Award and every time I hear opening session speakers, including Dr. Goodnight, single out operations research and optimization as one of SAS’ greatest strengths.

Why did you write New Features in Optimization with SAS/OR?
Thanks to the global economy, virtually every organization is focusing on optimization. Everyone needs to make the most of their limited (and possibly dwindling resources) and to do more with less. Current conditions present challenges but also present opportunities to re-make the decision-making process to be clearer, more consistent and more adaptable to change. Optimization fuels this transformation, helps organizations not only survive a crisis but excel going forward.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
I hope that my paper on optimization shows how SAS, by coordinating powerful, accessible optimization methods with all of the data, analytic and reporting capabilities that are always needed to do real-world optimization work, is uniquely qualified to help our customers tackle the optimization challenges that they are confronting.
3月 242009
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Tim Beese’s answers.

Tim Beese, Software Developer

Is there something interesting about yourself that you could share with us?
I often do hip-hop karaoke with my friends. They even got me to perform ‘Rapper’s Delight' at my wedding reception. I am also a “Rock Band 2” drummer and was at one point ranked in the top 1000 bands worldwide.

How many times have you been to SAS Global Forum?
This will be my third trip to SAS Global Forum. The most memorable experience was the Scott Adams talk 2 years ago. It was one of the funniest presentations I’d ever seen.

What customer pain or business problem were you hoping to solve with your paper, What's New in the Add‐In 4.2 for Microsoft Office?
It has been 3 years since we’ve released a new version of the SAS® Add-In for Microsoft Office. Users are ready for a new release, and they’re excited to see what will be in it. I’m hoping to answer their questions and make them even more eager to get their hands on the new release.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
The most important highlights were covering how the Add-In and SAS® Enterprise Guide® share a common framework and also to highlight the new features with reporting and pivot tables in the Add-In.
3月 242009
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Robert Chu’s answers.

Robert Chu, Senior Manager, Software Development

Robert, tell me a fun fact about you that would make your personality come alive for the readers. (For example, did you have a ridiculous first car that really tells people who you are? Do you decorate your office in 18th century Chinese artwork? Do you kite fish or snowboard?)
I came to the United States 20 some years ago, but never stopped paying close attention to what happened in my hometown, which publishes only one printed newspaper, three times every month. As a subscriber, I’ve gotten each edition of the newspaper sent to my home in North Carolina. I read every article. Recently, I went back childhood home to visit my teachers, friends, schoolmates and relatives. It was hard for me to hide the fact that I knew more local news than they did, and then I got a kick out of it when I saw their shocked and surprised faces.

This is my first SAS Global Forum; have you ever been before?
This is my seventh attendance of SAS Global Forum. I always enjoy seeing old acquaintances and having enjoyable dinners and chats with them.

You, Jifa Wei, Emily Gao and Frank Wang wrote Dashboard Reports for Predictive Model Management for SAS Global Forum. What did you hope that customers would take away from that paper?
Customers could potentially create many predictive models and want to know very quickly how those models are performing. The problem is as hard to address as it is complicated. I hope the technologies described in the paper will whet customers’ appetites as to how they could go about addressing their model performance monitoring concerns.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
I wanted to cover the big picture instead of going into details as the audience member backgrounds are diversified. The most important highlight was to connect what is described in the paper to business ROI (Return on Investment.)
3月 242009
It’s the last full day of SAS® Global Forum, and I hope you’re enjoying the conference as much as I am. This is my 17th time at SAS Global Forum (formerly SUGI), but serving as conference chair, I’ve gotten to see firsthand what it takes to put on a large-scale event like this one.

So much coordination, time and effort went into making this a successful conference and I would like to take a moment to thank the conference leaders for their contributions. From section chairs to Industry Solution leaders, session coordinators to presenters, we could not have done it without you.

But the conference is not over yet – there is much more for you to do and see today! Be sure to check out the Industry Solutions from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. today on the National Harbor Level. Experts will discuss how SAS technology can help achieve goals in specific industry areas.

And the networking opportunities continue with today’s lunch and featured presentation. Join us in Prince George Level, Exhibit Hall A at noon for lunch – and to see Arthur Benjamin, PhD, “America’s Best Math Whiz”, demonstrate how to mentally add and multiply numbers faster than a calculator and other amazing feats. Check at Conference Registration to see if tickets are still available for this event.

At the end of your busy day, you’ll get to relax at the always-fun Kick Back Party. Escapade, a wonderful show and dance band, will provide the entertainment in the Potomac Ballroom starting at 8 p.m. Food, drink and dancing await you, so come out and celebrate a successful conference!

Have a great day!