An interview with noted analytics thought leader Anne Milley from JMP. Anne talks of statistics, cloud computing, culture of JMP, globalization and analytics in general.
DecisionStats(DS) How was 2013 as a year for statistics in general and JMP in particular?
Anne Milley- (AM) I’d say the first-ever International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013) was a great success! We hope to carry some of that momentum into 2014. We are fans of the UK’s 10-year GetStats campaign—they are in the third year, and it seems to be going really well. JMP had a very good year as well, with worldwide double-digit growth again. We are pleased to have launched version 11 of JMP and JMP Pro last year at our annual Discovery Summit user conference.
DS- Any cloud computing plans for JMP?
AM- We are exploring options, but with memory and storage still so incredibly cheap on the desktop, the responsiveness of local, in-memory computing on Macs or Windows operating systems remains compelling. John Sall said it best in a blog post he wrote in December. It is our intention to have a public cloud offering in 2014.
DS- Describe the company culture and environment in the JMP division. Any global plans?
AM- John Sall’s passion to bring interactive, intuitive data visualization and analysis on the desktop continues. There is a strong commitment in the JMP division to speeding the statistical discovery process and making it fun. It’s a powerfully motivating factor to work in an environment where that passion and purpose are shared, and where we get to interact with customers who are also passionate users of JMP, many of whom use JMP and SAS together.
While a majority of JMP personnel are in Cary, North Carolina, almost half the staff are contributing from other states and countries. JMP is sold everywhere we have SAS offices (in 59 countries). JMP has localized versions in seven languages, and we keep getting requests for more.
DS- You have been a SAS Institute veteran for 15 years now. What are some of the ups and downs you remember as milestones in the field of analytics?
AM- The most exciting milestone is that analytics has been getting more attention in the last few years, thanks to a combination of factors. Analytics is a very inclusive term (statistics, optimization, data mining, machine learning, data science, etc.), but statistics is the main discipline we draw on when we are trying to make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty. In the early days of data mining, there was a tension between statisticians and data miners/machine learners, but we now have a richer set of methods (with more solid theoretic underpinnings) with which to analyze data and make better decisions. We have better ways to automate parts of the model-building process as well, which is important with ever-wider data. In the early days of data mining, I remember many reacting with “Why spend so much time dredging through opportunistically collected data, when statistics has so much more to offer, like design of experiments?” There is still some merit to that, and maybe we will see the pendulum swing back to doing more with information-rich data.
DS- What are your top three forecasts for analytics technology in 2014?
AM- My perspective may be different than others on what’s trending in analytics technology, but as we try to do more with more data, here are my top three picks:
We will continue to innovate new ways to visualize data and statistical output to capitalize on our high visual bandwidth. (Examples of some of our recent innovations can be found on the JMP Blog.)
We will continue to see innovative ways to create more analytic bandwidth and democratize analytics—for example, more quickly build and deploy analytic applications and interactive visualizations for others to use.
We will see more integration with commonly used analytical tools and infrastructure to help analysts be more productive.
DS- How do you maintain work-life balance?
AM- I enjoy what I do and the great people I work with; that is part of what motivates me each day and is added to the long list of things for which I’m grateful. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family, regular exercise, organic gardening and other creative pursuits.
DS-As a senior technology management person working for the past 15 years, do you think technology is a better employer for women employees than it was in the 1990s? What steps can be done to increase this?
AM- I certainly see more support for women in technology with various women-in-technology organizations and programs around the world. And I also see more encouragement for girls and young women to get more exposure to science, technology, engineering, math, and statistics and consider the career options knowledge of these areas could bring. But there is more to do. I would like to add statistics to the STEM list explicitly since many still consider statistics a branch of math and don’t appreciate that statistics is the science/language of science. (Florence Nightingale said that statistics is “the most important science in the whole world.”) This year, we will see the first Women in Statistics Conference “enticing, elevating, and empowering careers of women in statistics.” There are several organizations and programs out there advocating for women in science, engineering, statistics and math, which is great. The resources such organizations provide for networking, mentoring, career development and making role models more visible are important in raising awareness on what the impediments are and how to overcome them. We should all read Sheryl Sandberg’s re-release of Lean In for Graduates (due out in April). Thank you for asking this question!