Business Analytics Analyst Relations /Ethics/White Papers

Curt Monash, whom I respect and have tried to interview (unsuccessfully) points out suitable ethical dilemmas and gray areas in Analyst Relations in Business Intelligence here at http://www.dbms2.com/2010/07/30/advice-for-some-non-clients/

If you dont know what Analyst Relations are, well it’s like credit rating agencies for BI software. Read Curt and his landscaping of the field here ( I am quoting a summary) at http://www.strategicmessaging.com/the-ethics-of-white-papers/2010/08/01/

Vendors typically pay for

  1. They want to connect with sales prospects.
  2. They want general endorsement from the analyst.
  3. They specifically want endorsement from the analyst for their marketing claims.
  4. They want the analyst to do a better job of explaining something than they think they could do themselves.
  5. They want to give the analyst some money to enhance the relationship,

Merv Adrian (I interviewed Merv here at http://www.dudeofdata.com/?p=2505) has responded well here at http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/23040/white-paper-sponsorship-and-labeling/

None of the sites I checked clearly identify the work as having been sponsored in any way I found obvious in my (admittefly) quick scan. So this is an issue, but it’s not confined to Oracle.

My 2 cents (not being so well paid 😉 are-

I think Curt was calling out Oracle (which didnt respond) and not Merv ( whose subsequent blog post does much to clarify).

As a comparative new /younger blogger in this field,
I applaud both Curt to try and bell the cat ( or point out what everyone in AR winks at) and for Merv for standing by him.

In the long run, it would strengthen analyst relations as a channel if they separate financial payment of content from bias. An example is credit rating agencies who forgot to do so in BFSI and see what happened.

Customers invest millions of dollars in BI systems trusting marketing collateral/white papers/webinars/tests etc. Perhaps it’s time for an industry association for analysts so that individual analysts don’t knuckle down under vendor pressure.

It is easier for someone of Curt, Merv’s stature to declare editing policy and disclosures before they write a white paper.It is much harder for everyone else who is not so well established.

White papers can take as much as 25,000$ to produce- and I know people who in Business Analytics (as opposed to Business Intelligence) slog on cents per hour cranking books on R, SAS , webinars, trainings but there are almost no white papers in BA. Are there any analytics independent analysts who are not biased by R or SAS or SPSS or etc etc. I am not sure but this looks like a good line to  pursue 😉 – provided ethical checks and balances are established.

Personally I know of many so called analytics communities go all out to please their sponsors so bias in writing does exist (you cant praise SAS on a R Blogging Forum or R USers Meet and you cant write on WPS at SAS Community.org )

– at the same time someone once told me- It is tough to make a living as a writer, and that choice between easy money and credible writing needs to be respected.

Most sponsored white papers I read are pure advertisements, directed at CEOs rather than the techie community at large.

Almost every BI vendor claims to have the fastest database with 5X speed- and benchmarking in technical terms could be something they could do too.

Just like Gadget sites benchmark products, you can not benchmark BI or even BA products as it is written not to do so  in many licensing terms.

Probably that is the reason Billions are spent in BI and the positive claims are doubtful ( except by the sellers). Similarly in Analytics, many vendors would have difficulty justifying their claims or prices if they are subjected to a side by side comparison. Unfortunately the resulting confusion results in shoddy technology coming stronger due to more aggressive marketing.

SAS Sentiment Analysis wins Award

From Business Wire, the new Sentiment Analysis product by SAS Institute (created by acquisition Teragram ) wins an award. As per wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentiment_analysis

Sentiment analysis or opinion mining refers to a broad (definitionally challenged) area of natural language processingcomputational linguistics and text mining. Generally speaking, it aims to determine the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to some topic. The attitude may be their judgment or evaluation (see appraisal theory), their affective state (that is to say, the emotional state of the author when writing) or the intended emotional communication (that is to say, the emotional effect the author wishes to have on the reader).

It was developed by Teragram. Here is another Sentiment Analysis tool from Stanford Grad school at http://twittersentiment.appspot.com/search?query=sas

See-

Sentiment analysis for sas

Image Citation-

http://threeminds.organic.com/2009/09/five_reasons_sentiment_analysi.html

Read an article on sentiment analysis here at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/technology/internet/24emotion.html

And the complete press release at http://goo.gl/iVzf`

SAS Sentiment Analysis delivers insights on customer, competitor and organizational opinions to a degree never before possible via manual review of electronic text. As a result, SAS, the leader in business analytics software and services, has earned the prestigious Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award fromTechnology Marketing Corporation (TMC).

“SAS has automated the time-consuming process of reading individual documents and manually extracting relevant information”

“SAS Sentiment Analysis has shown benefits for its customers and it provides ROI for the companies that use it,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “Congratulations to the entire team at SAS, a company distinguished by its dedication to software quality and superiority to address marketplace needs.”

Derive positive and negative opinions, evaluations and emotions

SAS Sentiment Analysis’ high-performance crawler locates and extracts sentiment from digital content sources, including mainstream websites, social media outlets, internal servers and incoming news feeds. SAS’ unique hybrid approach combines powerful statistical techniques with linguistics rules to improve accuracy to the detailed feature level. It summarizes the sentiment expressed in all available text collections – identifying trends and creating graphical reports that describe the expressed feelings of consumers, partners, employees and competitors in real time. Output from SAS Sentiment Analysis can be stored in document repositories, surfaced in corporate portals and used as input to additional SAS Text Analytics software or search engines to help decision makers evaluate trends, predict future outcomes, minimize risks and capitalize on opportunities.

“SAS has automated the time-consuming process of reading individual documents and manually extracting relevant information,” said Fiona McNeill, Global Analytics Product Marketing Manager at SAS. “Our integrated analytics framework helps organizations maximize the value of information to improve their effectiveness.”

SAS Sentiment Analysis is included in the SAS Text Analytics suite, which helps organizations discover insights from electronic text materials, associate them for delivery to the right person or place, and provide intelligence to select the best course of action. Whether answering complex search-and-retrieval questions, ensuring appropriate content is presented to internal or external constituencies, or predicting which activity or channel will produce the best effect on existing sentiments, SAS Text Analytics provides exceptional real-time processing speeds for large volumes of text.

SAS Text Analytics solutions are part of the SAS Business Analytics Framework, backed by the industry’s most comprehensive range of consulting, training and support services, ensuring customers maximum return from their IT investments.

Recognizing vision

The Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award recognizes vision, leadership and thoroughness. The most innovative products and services brought to the market from March 2008 through March 2009 were chosen as winners of this Product of the Year Award and are published on the INTERNET TELEPHONY and Customer Interaction Solutions websites.

Interview Alison Bolen SAS.com

My biggest editing soapbox right now is to encourage brevity. We’re so used to writing white papers, brochures and magazine articles that the concept of throwing down 200 words on a topic from your day is a very foreign exercise. –

 

Alison Bolen  Editor-in-Chief sascom

Here is an interview with Alison Bolen the editor-in-chief of SAScom , online magazaine of the SAS Institute. Alison talks of the challenges in maintaining several of the topmost expertise blogs on SAS ,Business Analytics and Business Intelligence.

Ajay- Describe your career in the technology writing and publishing area. What advice would you give to young Web publishers and content producers just entering the job market in this recession? Describe your journey within SAS.

Alison- I started at SAS in 1999 as a summer student working as a contributing editor for SAS Communications magazine. Before the end of the year, I came on full time and soon transitioned to writing and editing for the Web. At that time, we were just developing the strategy for the customer support site and e-newsletters. As the first editor for the SAS Tech Report, I led marketing efforts that brought in 15,000 opt-in subscribers within six months. A year later, I switched to writing and editing customer success stories, which I enjoyed doing until I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief for sascom® magazine in 2006. We started our blogging program in 2007, and I’ve been actively involved in coaching SAS bloggers for the past two years.

Outside of SAS, I’ve written for Southwest Hydrology Magazine, the Arizona Daily Star and other regional papers. My bachelor’s degree is in magazine journalism and my master’s degree is in technical and business communications.

If you’re just beginning your career as a writer, start a blog and stick with it. There’s no better way to get daily writing practice, learn the basics of search engine optimization and start to understand what works online.

Ajay www.SAS.com/Blogs has many, many blogs by experts, RSS feeds and even covers the annual SAS conference with video content. In terms of social media adaptation, what prompts you to stay ahead of the competition in ensuring marketing and technical communications for brand awareness?

What do you think are the basics of setting up a social media presence for a company, regardless of size?

Alison- Social media excites me because you can cut through the clutter and be real. Our new business forecasting blog by Michael Gilliland is a good example. Teaching people how to forecast better is his top priority, not selling software. Our overarching goal for the blogging program is similar: to share and develop expertise.

We’re big advocates of aligning your social media presence with existing marketing goals. We have a few grass-roots teams interested in social media, and we have a director-level Marketing 2.0 Council that our Social Media Manager Dave Thomas leads to determine broad guidelines and strategies. But the overarching concept is to look at the goals of your individual marketing campaigns first, and then determine which social media channels might help you reach those goals.

Most of all, take off your marketing hat when you enter the blog, network or forum. Social media consists of individuals, for the most part, and not companies, so be sure to offer value as a colleague and build relationships.

Ajay- I noticed that SAS.com/ Blogs are almost ad free – even of SAS products – apart from a simple banner of the company. Was this a deliberate decision, and if so, why?

Alison- Yes, most of the SAS blogs were intentionally created to help establish the individual blogger’s expertise – not to promote SAS products or services. One positive side effect is that SAS – by extension – builds credibility as well. But we really do see the blogs as a place to discuss concepts and ideas more than products and tools.

Ajay- What distinguishes good writers on blogs from bad writers on blogs? How about some tips for technical blog writing and especially editing (since many writers need editors more than they realize)?

Alison- The best blog writers know how to simplify and explain even the most mundane, everyday processes. This is true of personal and technical blog writing. If you can look at your life or your work and see what piece of it others would find interesting or want to know more about – and then know how to describe that sliver of yourself clearly – you have what it takes to be a good blogger. Chris Hemedinger does this well on The SAS Dummy blog.

My biggest editing soapbox right now is to encourage brevity. We’re so used to writing white papers, brochures and magazine articles at SAS that the concept of throwing down 200 words on a random topic from your day is a very foreign exercise. You have to learn how to edit your day – not just your writing – to find those topics and distill those thoughts into quick snippets that keep readers interested. And don’t forget it’s okay to have fun!

Ajay- I balance one blog, small consulting assignments and being a stay-at-home dad for an 18-month old. How easy is it for you to balance being editor of sascom, given the huge content your sites create, and three kids? Does working for SAS and its employee-friendly reputation help you do so?

Alison- I couldn’t balance work and kids without a whole lot of help from friends and family, that’s for sure. And the employee-friendly benefits help too. The biggest benefit is the cultural mindset, though, not any individual policy. My boss and my boss’ boss are both working mothers, and they’re balancing the same types of schedules. There’s an understanding about finding a healthy work-life balance that permeates SAS from top to bottom.

Ajay- As a social media consultant it is a weekly struggle for me to convince companies to discontinue registration for normal content (but keep it for special events), use a lot more video tutorials and share content freely across the Web. Above all, convincing busy senior managers to start writing a blog or an article is an exercise in diplomacy itself. How do you convince senior managers to devote time to content creation?

Alison- In a lot of areas, the content is already being created for analyst presentations, press interviews and consulting briefs. It’s really a matter of understanding how to take those existing materials and re-present them in a more personal voice. Not everyone can – or should – do it. You have to decide if you have the voice for it and whether or not it will bring you value beyond what you’re getting through your existing channels.

Ajay- Any plans to visit India and have a SAS India blogathon?

Alison- Alas, not this year.

Maybe I will visit Cary,NC then 🙂


Bio:
Alison Bolen is the Editor of sascom magazine and the sascom voices blog, where SAS experts publish their thoughts on popular and emerging business and technology trends worldwide. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs.

Alison holds a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

1) Describe your career in the technology writing and publishing area. What advice would you give to young Web publishers and content producers just entering the job market in this recession? Describe your journey within SAS.

I started at SAS in 1999 as a summer student working as a contributing editor for SAS Communications magazine. Before the end of the year, I came on full time and soon transitioned to writing and editing for the Web. At that time, we were just developing the strategy for the customer support site and e-newsletters. As the first editor for the SAS Tech Report, I led marketing efforts that brought in 15,000 opt-in subscribers within six months. A year later, I switched to writing and editing customer success stories, which I enjoyed doing until I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief for sascom® magazine in 2006. We started our blogging program in 2007, and I’ve been actively involved in coaching SAS bloggers for the past two years.

Outside of SAS, I’ve written for Southwest Hydrology Magazine, the Arizona Daily Star and other regional papers. My bachelor’s degree is in magazine journalism and my master’s degree is in technical and business communications.

If you’re just beginning your career as a writer, start a blog and stick with it. There’s no better way to get daily writing practice, learn the basics of search engine optimization and start to understand what works online.
2) SAS.com/Blogs has many, many blogs by experts, RSS feeds and even covers the annual SAS conference with video content. In terms of social media adaptation, what prompts you to stay ahead of the competition in ensuring marketing and technical communications for brand awareness?

What do you think are the basics of setting up a social media presence for a company, regardless of size?

Social media excites me because you can cut through the clutter and be real. Our new business forecasting blog by Michael Gilliland is a good example. Teaching people how to forecast better is his top priority, not selling software. Our overarching goal for the blogging program is similar: to share and develop expertise.

We’re big advocates of aligning your social media presence with existing marketing goals. We have a few grass-roots teams interested in social media, and we have a director-level Marketing 2.0 Council that our Social Media Manager Dave Thomas leads to determine broad guidelines and strategies. But the overarching concept is to look at the goals of your individual marketing campaigns first, and then determine which social media channels might help you reach those goals.

Most of all, take off your marketing hat when you enter the blog, network or forum. Social media consists of individuals, for the most part, and not companies, so be sure to offer value as a colleague and build relationships.


3) I noticed that SAS.com/ Blogs are almost ad free – even of SAS products – apart from a simple banner of the company. Was this a deliberate decision, and if so, why?

Yes, most of the SAS blogs were intentionally created to help establish the individual blogger’s expertise – not to promote SAS products or services. One positive side effect is that SAS – by extension – builds credibility as well. But we really do see the blogs as a place to discuss concepts and ideas more than products and tools.
4) What distinguishes good writers on blogs from bad writers on blogs? How about some tips for technical blog writing and especially editing (since many writers need editors more than they realize)?

The best blog writers know how to simplify and explain even the most mundane, everyday processes. This is true of personal and technical blog writing. If you can look at your life or your work and see what piece of it others would find interesting or want to know more about – and then know how to describe that sliver of yourself clearly – you have what it takes to be a good blogger. Chris Hemedinger does this well on The SAS Dummy blog.

My biggest editing soapbox right now is to encourage brevity. We’re so used to writing white papers, brochures and magazine articles at SAS that the concept of throwing down 200 words on a random topic from your day is a very foreign exercise. You have to learn how to edit your day – not just your writing – to find those topics and distill those thoughts into quick snippets that keep readers interested. And don’t forget it’s okay to have fun!
5) I balance one blog, small consulting assignments and being a stay-at-home dad for an 18-month old. How easy is it for you to balance being editor of sascom, given the huge content your sites create, and three kids? Does working for SAS and its employee-friendly reputation help you do so?

I couldn’t balance work and kids without a whole lot of help from friends and family, that’s for sure. And the employee-friendly benefits help too. The biggest benefit is the cultural mindset, though, not any individual policy. My boss and my boss’ boss are both working mothers, and they’re balancing the same types of schedules. There’s an understanding about finding a healthy work-life balance that permeates SAS from top to bottom.

6) As a social media consultant it is a weekly struggle for me to convince companies to discontinue registration for normal content (but keep it for special events), use a lot more video tutorials and share content freely across the Web. Above all, convincing busy senior managers to start writing a blog or an article is an exercise in diplomacy itself. How do you convince senior managers to devote time to content creation?

In a lot of areas, the content is already being created for analyst presentations, press interviews and consulting briefs. It’s really a matter of understanding how to take those existing materials and re-present them in a more personal voice. Not everyone can – or should – do it. You have to decide if you have the voice for it and whether or not it will bring you value beyond what you’re getting through your existing channels.

7) Any plans to visit India and have a SAS India blogathon?

Alas, not this year.

KXEN Case Studies : Financial Sector

Here are the summaries of some excellent success stories that KXEN has achieved working with partners in the financial world over the years.

Fraud Modeling- Disbank (acquired by Fortis) Turkey

1. Dısbank increased the number of identified fraudulent applications by 200% from 7 to 21 per day.

2.More than 50 fraudsters using counterfeit cards at merchant locations or fraudulent applications have been arrested after April 2004 when the fraud modeling system was set.


A large Bank on the U.S. East Coast

1.Response Modeling

Previously it took the modeling group four weeks to build one model with several hundred variables, using traditional modeling tools. KXEN took one hour for the same problem and doubled the lift in the top decile because it included variables that had not been used for this business question before.

2.Data Quality

Building a Cross/Up-sell Model for a direct marketing campaign to high net worth customers, the modelers needed four weeks using 1500 variables. Again it took one hour with KXEN, which uncovered significant problems with some of the top predictive variables. Further investigation proved that these problems were created in the data merge of the mail file and response file, creating several “perfect” predictors. The model was re-run, removing these variables, and immediately put into production.

Le Crédit Lyonnais

1.Around 160 score models now built annually – compared to around 10 previously – for 130 direct marketing campaigns.
2.KXEN software has allowed LCL to drive up response rates, leading to more value-added services for customers.

Finansbank, Turkey

1.Within 4 months of starting the project to combat dormancy using KXEN’s solution, the bank had successfully reactivated half its previously dormant customers as per Kunter Kutluay, Finansbank Director of Marketing and Risk Analytics.

Bank Austria Creditanstalt , Austria

1.Some 4.5 terabytes of data are held in the bank’s operational systems, with a further 2 terabytes archived. Analytical models created in KXEN are automatically fed through the bank’s scoring engine in batches weekly
or monthly depending on the schema.

“But we are looking at a success rate of target customer deals in the area of three to five per cent with KXEN.
Before that, it was one per cent or less. ”
Werner Widhalm, Head of the Customer Knowledge Management Unit.

Barclays

1.Barclays’ Teradata warehouse holds information on some 14 million active customers, with data
on many different aspects of customer behaviour. Previously, analysts had to manually whittle down several thousand fields of data to a core of only a few hundred to fit the limitations of the modelling process. Now, all of the variables can be fed straight into the predictive model.

Summary– KXEN has achieved tremendous response in all aspects of data modelling in financial sector where time in building, deploying and analyzing model is much more crucial than many other sectors. I would be following this with other case studies on other KXEN successes across multiple domains.

Source – http://www.kxen.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=220&Itemid=786

Disclaimer- I am a social media consultant for KXEN.