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Carole-Ann’s 2011 Predictions for Decision Management

Carole-Ann’s 2011 Predictions for Decision Management

For Ajay Ohri on DecisionStats.com

What were the top 5 events in 2010 in your field?
  1. Maturity: the Decision Management space was made up of technology vendors, big and small, that typically focused on one or two aspects of this discipline.  Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of consolidation in the industry – first with Business Intelligence (BI) then Business Process Management (BPM) and lately in Business Rules Management (BRM) and Advanced Analytics.  As a result the giant Platform vendors have helped create visibility for this discipline.  Lots of tiny clues finally bubbled up in 2010 to attest of the increasing activity around Decision Management.  For example, more products than ever were named Decision Manager; companies advertised for Decision Managers as a job title in their job section; most people understand what I do when I am introduced in a social setting!
  2. Boredom: unfortunately, as the industry matures, inevitably innovation slows down…  At the main BRMS shows we heard here and there complaints that the technology was stalling.  We heard it from vendors like Red Hat (Drools) and we heard it from bored end-users hoping for some excitement at Business Rules Forum’s vendor panel.  They sadly did not get it
  3. Scrum: I am not thinking about the methodology there!  If you have ever seen a rugby game, you can probably understand why this is the term that comes to mind when I look at the messy & confusing technology landscape.  Feet blindly try to kick the ball out while superhuman forces are moving randomly the whole pack – or so it felt when I played!  Business Users in search of Business Solutions are facing more and more technology choices that feel like comparing apples to oranges.  There is value in all of them and each one addresses a specific aspect of Decision Management but I regret that the industry did not simplify the picture in 2010.  On the contrary!  Many buzzwords were created or at least made popular last year, creating even more confusion on a muddy field.  A few examples: Social CRM, Collaborative Decision Making, Adaptive Case Management, etc.  Don’t take me wrong, I *do* like the technologies.  I sympathize with the decision maker that is trying to pick the right solution though.
  4. Information: Analytics have been used for years of course but the volume of data surrounding us has been growing to unparalleled levels.  We can blame or thank (depending on our perspective) Social Media for that.  Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have made it possible and easy to publish relevant (as well as fluffy) information in real-time.  As we all started to get the hang of it and potentially over-publish, technology evolved to enable the storage, correlation and analysis of humongous volumes of data that we could not dream of before.  25 billion tweets were posted in 2010.  Every month, over 30 billion pieces of data are shared on Facebook alone.  This is not just about vanity and marketing though.  This data can be leveraged for the greater good.  Carlos pointed to some fascinating facts about catastrophic event response team getting organized thanks to crowd-sourced information.  We are also seeing, in the Decision management world, more and more applicability for those very technology that have been developed for the needs of Big Data – I’ll name for example Hadoop that Carlos (yet again) discussed in his talks at Rules Fest end of 2009 and 2010.
  5. Self-Organization: it may be a side effect of the Social Media movement but I must admit that I was impressed by the success of self-organizing initiatives.  Granted, this last trend has nothing to do with Decision Management per se but I think it is a great evolution worth noting.  Let me point to a couple of examples.  I usually attend traditional conferences and tradeshows in which the content can be good but is sometimes terrible.  I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and attendance at *un-conferences* such as P-Camp (P stands for Product – an event for Product Managers).  When you think about it, it is already difficult to get a show together when people are dedicated to the tasks.  How crazy is it to have volunteers set one up with no budget and no agenda?  Well, people simply show up to do their part and everyone has fun voting on-site for what seems the most appealing content at the time.  Crowdsourcing applied to shows: it works!  Similar experience with meetups or tweetups.  I also enjoyed attending some impromptu Twitter jam sessions on a given topic.  Social Media is certainly helping people reach out and get together in person or virtually and that is wonderful!

A segment of a social network

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What are the top three trends you see in 2011?

  1. Performance:  I might be cheating here.   I was very bullish about predicting much progress for 2010 in the area of Performance Management in your Decision Management initiatives.  I believe that progress was made but Carlos did not give me full credit for the right prediction…  Okay, I am a little optimistic on timeline…  I admit it…  If it did not fully happen in 2010, can I predict it again in 2011?  I think that companies want to better track their business performance in order to correct the trajectory of course but also to improve their projections.  I see that it is turning into reality already here and there.  I expect it to become a trend in 2011!
  2. Insight: Big Data being available all around us with new technologies and algorithms will continue to propagate in 2011 leading to more widely spread Analytics capabilities.  The buzz at Analytics shows on Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a sign that there is interest in those kinds of things.  There is tremendous information that can be leveraged for smart decision-making.  I think there will be more of that in 2011 as initiatives launches in 2010 will mature into material results.
    5 Ways to Cultivate an Active Social Network

    Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

  3. Collaboration:  Social Media for the Enterprise is a discipline in the making.  Social Media was initially seen for the most part as a Marketing channel.  Over the years, companies have started experimenting with external communities and ideation capabilities with moderate success.  The few strategic initiatives started in 2010 by “old fashion” companies seem to be an indication that we are past the early adopters.  This discipline may very well materialize in 2011 as a core capability, well, or at least a new trend.  I believe that capabilities such Chatter, offered by Salesforce, will transform (slowly) how people interact in the workplace and leverage the volumes of social data captured in LinkedIn and other Social Media sites.  Collaboration is of course a topic of interest for me personally.  I even signed up for Kare Anderson’s collaboration collaboration site – yes, twice the word “collaboration”: it is really about collaborating on collaboration techniques.  Even though collaboration does not require Social Media, this medium offers perspectives not available until now.

Brief Bio-

Carole-Ann is a renowned guru in the Decision Management space. She created the vision for Decision Management that is widely adopted now in the industry. Her claim to fame is the strategy and direction of Blaze Advisor, the then-leading BRMS product, while she also managed all the Decision Management tools at FICO (business rules, predictive analytics and optimization). She has a vision for Decision Management both as a technology and a discipline that can revolutionize the way corporations do business, and will never get tired of painting that vision for her audience. She speaks often at Industry conferences and has conducted university classes in France and Washington DC.

Leveraging her Masters degree in Applied Mathematics / Computer Science from a “Grande Ecole” in France, she started her career building advanced systems using all kinds of technologies — expert systems, rules, optimization, dashboarding and cubes, web search, and beta version of database replication – as well as conducting strategic consulting gigs around change management.

She now tweets as @CMatignon, blogs at blog.sparklinglogic.com and interacts at community.sparklinglogic.com.

She started her career building advanced systems using all kinds of technologies — expert systems, rules, optimization, dashboarding and cubes, web search, and beta version of database replication.  At Cleversys (acquired by Kurt Salmon & Associates), she also conducted strategic consulting gigs mostly around change management.

While playing with advanced software components, she found a passion for technology and joined ILOG (acquired by IBM).  She developed a growing interest in Optimization as well as Business Rules.  At ILOG, she coined the term BRMS while brainstorming with her Sales counterpart.  She led the Presales organization for Telecom in the Americas up until 2000 when she joined Blaze Software (acquired by Brokat Technologies, HNC Software and finally FICO).

Her 360-degree experience allowed her to gain appreciation for all aspects of a software company, giving her a unique perspective on the business.  Her technical background kept her very much in touch with technology as she advanced.

She also became addicted to Twitter in the process.  She is active on all kinds of social media, always looking for new digital experience!

Outside of work, Carole-Ann loves spending time with her two boys.  They grow fruits in their Northern California home and cook all together in the French tradition.

profile on LinkedIn

TwitterFollow me on Twitter

Filtering to Gain Social Network Value

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Social Networks Hype Cycle

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PySpread Magic

Python logo

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Just working with PySpread- and worked on a 1 million by 1 million spreadsheet- Python sure looks promising for the way ahead for stat computing ( you need to

sudo apt-get install python-numpy python-rpy python-scipy python-gmpy wxpython*,

cd to the untarred bz2 file from http://pyspread.sourceforge.net/download.html,  (like

:~/Downloads$ cd pyspread-0.1.2

:~/Downloads/pyspread-0.1.2

sudo python setup.py install

)

http://pyspread.sourceforge.net/

by Martin Manns

 

about Pyspread is a cross-platform Python spreadsheet application. It is based on and written in the programming language Python.

Instead of spreadsheet formulas, Python expressions are entered into the spreadsheet cells. Each expression returns a Python object that can be accessed from other cells. These objects can represent anything including lists or matrices.

Pyspread screenshot
features
  • Three dimensional grid with up to 85,899,345 rows and 14,316,555 columns (64 bit systems, depends on row height and column width). Note that a million cells require about 500 MB of memory.
  • Complex data types such as lists, trees or matrices within a single cell.
  • Macros for functionalities that are too complex for a single Python expression.
  • Python module access from each cell, which allows:
    • Arbitrary size rational numbers (via gmpy),
    • Fixed point decimal numbers for business calculations, (via the decimal module from the standard library)
    • Advanced statistics including plotting functions (via RPy)
    • Much more via <your favourite module>.
  • CSV import and export
  • Clipboard access
Pyspread screenshot

warning The concept of pyspread allows doing everything from each cell that a Python script can do. This powerful feature has its drawbacks. A spreadsheet may very well delete your hard drive or send your data via the Internet. Of course this is a non-issue if you sandbox properly or if you only use self developed spreadsheets.

Since this is not the case for everyone (see discussion at lwn.net), a GPG signature based trust model for spreadsheet files has been introduced. It ensures that only your own trusted files are executed on loading. Untrusted files are displayed in safe mode. You can approve a file manually. Inspect carefully.

 

Quantifying Analytics ROI

Japanese House Crest “Go-Shichi no Kiri”

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I had a brief twitter exchange with Jim Davis, Chief Marketing Officer, SAS Institute on Return of Investment on Business Analytics Projects for customers. I have interviewed Jim Davis before last year http://decisionstats.com/2009/06/05/interview-jim-davis-sas-institute/

Now Jim Davis is a big guy, and he is rushing from the launch of SAS Institute’s Social Media Analytics in Japan- to some arguably difficult flying conditions in time to be home in America for Thanksgiving. That and and I have not been much of a good Blog Boy recently, more swayed by love of open source, than love of software per se. I love equally, given I am bad at both equally.

Anyways, Jim’s contention  ( http://twitter.com/Davis_Jim ) was customers should go in business analytics only if there is Positive Return on Investment.  I am quoting him here-

What is important is that there be a positive ROI on each and every BA project. Otherwise don’t do it.

That’s not the marketing I was taught in my business school- basically it was sell, sell, sell.

However I see most BI sales vendors also go through -let me meet my sales quota for this quarter- and quantifying customer ROI is simple maths than predictive analytics but there seems to be some information assymetry in it.

Here is a paper from North Western University on ROI in IT projects-.

but overall it would be in the interest of customers and Business Analytics Vendors to publish aggregated ROI.

The opponents to this transparency in ROI would be market leaders in market share, who have trapped their customers by high migration costs (due to complexity) or contractually.

A recent study listed Oracle having a large percentage of unhappy customers who would still renew!, SAP had problems when it raised prices for licensing arbitrarily (that CEO is now CEO of HP and dodging legal notices from Oracle).

Indeed Jim Davis’s famous unsettling call for focusing on Business Analytics,as Business Intelligence is dead- that call has been implemented more aggressively by IBM in analytical acquisitions than even SAS itself which has been conservative about inorganic growth. Quantifying ROI, should theoretically aid open source software the most (since they are cheapest in up front licensing) or newer technologies like MapReduce /Hadoop (since they are quite so fast)- but I think that market has a way of factoring in these things- and customers are not as foolish neither as unaware of costs versus benefits of migration.

The contrary to this is Business Analytics and Business Intelligence are imperfect markets with duo-poly  or big players thriving in absence of customer regulation.

You get more protection as a customer of $20 bag of potato chips, than as a customer of a $200,000 software. Regulators are wary to step in to ensure ROI fairness (since most bright techies are qither working for private sector, have their own startup or invested in startups)- who in Govt understands Analytics and Intelligence strong enough to ensure vendor lock-ins are not done, and market flexibility is done. It is also a lower choice for embattled regulators to ensure ROI on enterprise software unlike the aggressiveness they have showed in retail or online software.

Who will Analyze the Analysts and who can quantify the value of quants (or penalize them for shoddy quantitative analytics)- is an interesting phenomenon we expect to see more of.

 

 

Cloud Computing with R

Illusion of Depth and Space (4/22) - Rotating ...

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Here is a short list of resources and material I put together as starting points for R and Cloud Computing It’s a bit messy but overall should serve quite comprehensively.

Cloud computing is a commonly used expression to imply a generational change in computing from desktop-servers to remote and massive computing connections,shared computers, enabled by high bandwidth across the internet.

As per the National Institute of Standards and Technology Definition,
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

(Citation: The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing

Authors: Peter Mell and Tim Grance
Version 15, 10-7-09
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Information Technology Laboratory
http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing/cloud-def-v15.doc)

R is an integrated suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation and graphical display.

From http://cran.r-project.org/doc/FAQ/R-FAQ.html#R-Web-Interfaces

R Web Interfaces

Rweb is developed and maintained by Jeff Banfield. The Rweb Home Page provides access to all three versions of Rweb—a simple text entry form that returns output and graphs, a more sophisticated JavaScript version that provides a multiple window environment, and a set of point and click modules that are useful for introductory statistics courses and require no knowledge of the R language. All of the Rweb versions can analyze Web accessible datasets if a URL is provided.
The paper “Rweb: Web-based Statistical Analysis”, providing a detailed explanation of the different versions of Rweb and an overview of how Rweb works, was published in the Journal of Statistical Software (http://www.jstatsoft.org/v04/i01/).

Ulf Bartel has developed R-Online, a simple on-line programming environment for R which intends to make the first steps in statistical programming with R (especially with time series) as easy as possible. There is no need for a local installation since the only requirement for the user is a JavaScript capable browser. See http://osvisions.com/r-online/ for more information.

Rcgi is a CGI WWW interface to R by MJ Ray. It had the ability to use “embedded code”: you could mix user input and code, allowing the HTMLauthor to do anything from load in data sets to enter most of the commands for users without writing CGI scripts. Graphical output was possible in PostScript or GIF formats and the executed code was presented to the user for revision. However, it is not clear if the project is still active.

Currently, a modified version of Rcgi by Mai Zhou (actually, two versions: one with (bitmap) graphics and one without) as well as the original code are available from http://www.ms.uky.edu/~statweb/.

CGI-based web access to R is also provided at http://hermes.sdu.dk/cgi-bin/go/. There are many additional examples of web interfaces to R which basically allow to submit R code to a remote server, see for example the collection of links available from http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/twiki/bin/view/Main/StatCompCourse.

David Firth has written CGIwithR, an R add-on package available from CRAN. It provides some simple extensions to R to facilitate running R scripts through the CGI interface to a web server, and allows submission of data using both GET and POST methods. It is easily installed using Apache under Linux and in principle should run on any platform that supports R and a web server provided that the installer has the necessary security permissions. David’s paper “CGIwithR: Facilities for Processing Web Forms Using R” was published in the Journal of Statistical Software (http://www.jstatsoft.org/v08/i10/). The package is now maintained by Duncan Temple Lang and has a web page athttp://www.omegahat.org/CGIwithR/.

Rpad, developed and actively maintained by Tom Short, provides a sophisticated environment which combines some of the features of the previous approaches with quite a bit of JavaScript, allowing for a GUI-like behavior (with sortable tables, clickable graphics, editable output), etc.
Jeff Horner is working on the R/Apache Integration Project which embeds the R interpreter inside Apache 2 (and beyond). A tutorial and presentation are available from the project web page at http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/twiki/bin/view/Main/RApacheProject.

Rserve is a project actively developed by Simon Urbanek. It implements a TCP/IP server which allows other programs to use facilities of R. Clients are available from the web site for Java and C++ (and could be written for other languages that support TCP/IP sockets).

OpenStatServer is being developed by a team lead by Greg Warnes; it aims “to provide clean access to computational modules defined in a variety of computational environments (R, SAS, Matlab, etc) via a single well-defined client interface” and to turn computational services into web services.

Two projects use PHP to provide a web interface to R. R_PHP_Online by Steve Chen (though it is unclear if this project is still active) is somewhat similar to the above Rcgi and Rweb. R-php is actively developed by Alfredo Pontillo and Angelo Mineo and provides both a web interface to R and a set of pre-specified analyses that need no R code input.

webbioc is “an integrated web interface for doing microarray analysis using several of the Bioconductor packages” and is designed to be installed at local sites as a shared computing resource.

Rwui is a web application to create user-friendly web interfaces for R scripts. All code for the web interface is created automatically. There is no need for the user to do any extra scripting or learn any new scripting techniques. Rwui can also be found at http://rwui.cryst.bbk.ac.uk.

Finally, the R.rsp package by Henrik Bengtsson introduces “R Server Pages”. Analogous to Java Server Pages, an R server page is typically HTMLwith embedded R code that gets evaluated when the page is requested. The package includes an internal cross-platform HTTP server implemented in Tcl, so provides a good framework for including web-based user interfaces in packages. The approach is similar to the use of the brew package withRapache with the advantage of cross-platform support and easy installation.

Also additional R Cloud Computing Use Cases
http://wwwdev.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/rcloud/

ArrayExpress R/Bioconductor Workbench

Remote access to R/Bioconductor on EBI’s 64-bit Linux Cluster

Start the workbench by downloading the package for your operating system (Macintosh or Windows), or via Java Web Start, and you will get access to an instance of R running on one of EBI’s powerful machines. You can install additional packages, upload your own data, work with graphics and collaborate with colleagues, all as if you are running R locally, but unlimited by your machine’s memory, processor or data storage capacity.

  • Most up-to-date R version built for multicore CPUs
  • Access to all Bioconductor packages
  • Access to our computing infrastructure
  • Fast access to data stored in EBI’s repositories (e.g., public microarray data in ArrayExpress)

Using R Google Docs
http://www.omegahat.org/RGoogleDocs/run.pdf
It uses the XML and RCurl packages and illustrates that it is relatively quick and easy
to use their primitives to interact with Web services.

Using R with Amazon
Citation
http://rgrossman.com/2009/05/17/running-r-on-amazons-ec2/

Amazon’s EC2 is a type of cloud that provides on demand computing infrastructures called an Amazon Machine Images or AMIs. In general, these types of cloud provide several benefits:

  • Simple and convenient to use. An AMI contains your applications, libraries, data and all associated configuration settings. You simply access it. You don’t need to configure it. This applies not only to applications like R, but also can include any third-party data that you require.
  • On-demand availability. AMIs are available over the Internet whenever you need them. You can configure the AMIs yourself without involving the service provider. You don’t need to order any hardware and set it up.
  • Elastic access. With elastic access, you can rapidly provision and access the additional resources you need. Again, no human intervention from the service provider is required. This type of elastic capacity can be used to handle surge requirements when you might need many machines for a short time in order to complete a computation.
  • Pay per use. The cost of 1 AMI for 100 hours and 100 AMI for 1 hour is the same. With pay per use pricing, which is sometimes called utility pricing, you simply pay for the resources that you use.

Connecting to R on Amazon EC2- Detailed tutorials
Ubuntu Linux version
http://decisionstats.com/2010/09/25/running-r-on-amazon-ec2/
and Windows R version
http://decisionstats.com/2010/10/02/running-r-on-amazon-ec2-windows/

Connecting R to Data on Google Storage and Computing on Google Prediction API
https://github.com/onertipaday/predictionapirwrapper
R wrapper for working with Google Prediction API

This package consists in a bunch of functions allowing the user to test Google Prediction API from R.
It requires the user to have access to both Google Storage for Developers and Google Prediction API:
see
http://code.google.com/apis/storage/ and http://code.google.com/apis/predict/ for details.

Example usage:

#This example requires you had previously created a bucket named data_language on your Google Storage and you had uploaded a CSV file named language_id.txt (your data) into this bucket – see for details
library(predictionapirwrapper)

and Elastic R for Cloud Computing
http://user2010.org/tutorials/Chine.html

Abstract

Elastic-R is a new portal built using the Biocep-R platform. It enables statisticians, computational scientists, financial analysts, educators and students to use cloud resources seamlessly; to work with R engines and use their full capabilities from within simple browsers; to collaborate, share and reuse functions, algorithms, user interfaces, R sessions, servers; and to perform elastic distributed computing with any number of virtual machines to solve computationally intensive problems.
Also see Karim Chine’s http://biocep-distrib.r-forge.r-project.org/

R for Salesforce.com

At the point of writing this, there seem to be zero R based apps on Salesforce.com This could be a big opportunity for developers as both Apex and R have similar structures Developers could write free code in R and charge for their translated version in Apex on Salesforce.com

Force.com and Salesforce have many (1009) apps at
http://sites.force.com/appexchange/home for cloud computing for
businesses, but very few forecasting and statistical simulation apps.

Example of Monte Carlo based app is here
http://sites.force.com/appexchange/listingDetail?listingId=a0N300000016cT9EAI#

These are like iPhone apps except meant for business purposes (I am
unaware if any university is offering salesforce.com integration
though google apps and amazon related research seems to be on)

Force.com uses a language called Apex  and you can see
http://wiki.developerforce.com/index.php/App_Logic and
http://wiki.developerforce.com/index.php/An_Introduction_to_Formulas
Apex is similar to R in that is OOPs

SAS Institute has an existing product for taking in Salesforce.com data.

A new SAS data surveyor is
available to access data from the Customer Relationship Management
(CRM) software vendor Salesforce.com. at
http://support.sas.com/documentation/cdl/en/whatsnew/62580/HTML/default/viewer.htm#datasurveyorwhatsnew902.htm)

Personal Note-Mentioning SAS in an email to a R list is a big no-no in terms of getting a response and love. Same for being careless about which R help list to email (like R devel or R packages or R help)

For python based cloud see http://pi-cloud.com

Poem- El Martini

Cocktail Glass (Martini): The traditional cock...

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About 76,000 times and in 0.18 seconds

my friend, the google, does me inform,

are results for the keywords search poem on martini,

dampens enthusiasm for another poetic tome.

What can I say- that hasnt been said before,

760 thousand times about you and more,

Shaken and Stirred by Mr Bond,

sometimes dirty and mostly dryly spawned.

El Martini is here   to stay,

ladies and gentlemen, your host for the evening today.

Sip the cold, and smooth flavor,

add some olives – or green apples savor.

dont drink too much,

this is art as a drink,

sip martini slowly,

pause and blink.

 

Purge thoughtful plans today,

schemes and chores for another day.

El Martini strums a mean guitar,

how exotic, this stranger from afar.

still I pause, down two cups for the road,

having started, I need to finish this ode.

El Martini- has finished his song,

Mesmerized we happily clap along,

As he bows, we ask for a last request.

An encore would be terrific, no less.

 

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