Interview Eberhard Miethke and Dr. Mamdouh Refaat, Angoss Software

Here is an interview with Eberhard Miethke and Dr. Mamdouh Refaat, of Angoss Software. Angoss is a global leader in delivering business intelligence software and predictive analytics solutions that help businesses capitalize on their data by uncovering new opportunities to increase sales and profitability and to reduce risk.

Ajay-  Describe your personal journey in software. How can we guide young students to pursue more useful software development than just gaming applications.

 Mamdouh- I started using computers long time ago when they were programmed using punched cards! First in Fortran, then C, later C++, and then the rest. Computers and software were viewed as technical/engineering tools, and that’s why we can still see the heavy technical orientation of command languages such as Unix shells and even in the windows Command shell. However, with the introduction of database systems and Microsoft office apps, it was clear that business will be the primary user and field of application for software. My personal trip in software started with scientific applications, then business and database systems, and finally statistical software – which you can think of it as returning to the more scientific orientation. However, with the wide acceptance of businesses of the application of statistical methods in different fields such as marketing and risk management, it is a fast growing field that in need of a lot of innovation.

Ajay – Angoss makes multiple data mining and analytics products. could you please introduce us to your product portfolio and what specific data analytics need they serve.

a- Attached please find our main product flyers for KnowledgeSTUDIO and KnowledgeSEEKER. We have a 3rd product called “strategy builder” which is an add-on to the decision tree modules. This is also described in the flyer.

(see- Angoss Knowledge Studio Product Guide April2011  and http://www.scribd.com/doc/63176430/Angoss-Knowledge-Seeker-Product-Guide-April2011  )

Ajay-  The trend in analytics is for big data and cloud computing- with hadoop enabling processing of massive data sets on scalable infrastructure. What are your plans for cloud computing, tablet based as well as mobile based computing.

a- This is an area where the plan is still being figured out in all organizations. The current explosion of data collected from mobile phones, text messages, and social websites will need radically new applications that can utilize the data from these sources. Current applications are based on the relational database paradigm designed in the 70’s through the 90’s of the 20th century.

But data sources are generating data in volumes and formats that are challenging this paradigm and will need a set of new tools and possibly programming languages to fit these needs. The cloud computing, tablet based and mobile computing (which are the same thing in my opinion, just different sizes of the device) are also two technologies that have not been explored in analytics yet.

The approach taken so far by most companies, including Angoss, is to rely on new xml-based standards to represent data structures for the particular models. In this case, it is the PMML (predictive modelling mark-up language) standard, in order to allow the interoperability between analytics applications. Standardizing on the representation of models is viewed as the first step in order to allow the implementation of these models to emerging platforms, being that the cloud or mobile, or social networking websites.

The second challenge cited above is the rapidly increasing size of the data to be analyzed. Angoss has already identified this challenge early on and is currently offering in-database analytics drivers for several database engines: Netezza, Teradata and SQL Server.

These drivers allow our analytics products to translate their routines into efficient SQL-based scripts that run in the database engine to exploit its performance as well as the powerful hardware on which it runs. Thus, instead of copying the data to a staging format for analytics, these drivers allow the data to be analyzed “in-place” within the database without moving it.

Thus offering performance, security and integrity. The performance is improved because of the use of the well tuned database engines running on powerful hardware.

Extra security is achieved by not copying the data to other platforms, which could be less secure. And finally, the integrity of the results are vastly improved by making sure that the results are always obtained by analyzing the up-to-date data residing in the database rather than an older copy of the data which could be obsolete by the time the analysis is concluded.

Ajay- What are the principal competing products to your offerings, and what makes your products special or differentiated in value to them (for each customer segment).

a- There are two major players in today’s market that we usually encounter as competitors, they are: SAS and IBM.

SAS offers a data mining workbench in the form of SAS Enterprise Miner, which is closely tied to SAS data mining methodology known as SEMMA.

On the other hand, IBM has recently acquired SPSS, which offered its Clementine data mining software. IBM has now rebranded Clementine as IBM SPSS Modeller.

In comparison to these products, our KnowledgeSTUDIO and KnowledgeSEEKER offer three main advantages: ease of use; affordability; and ease of integration into existing BI environments.

Angoss products were designed to look-and-feel-like popular Microsoft office applications. This makes the learning curve indeed very steep. Typically, an intermediate level analyst needs only 2-3 days of training to become proficient in the use of the software with all its advanced features.

Another important feature of Angoss software products is their integration with SAS/base product, and SQL-based database engines. All predictive models generated by Angoss can be automatically translated to SAS and SQL scripts. This allows the generation of scoring code for these common platforms. While the software interface simplifies all the tasks to allow business users to take advantage of the value added by predictive models, the software includes advanced options to allow experienced statisticians to fine-tune their models by adjusting all model parameters as needed.

In addition, Angoss offers a unique product called StrategyBuilder, which allows the analyst to add key performance indicators (KPI’s) to predictive models. KPI’s such as profitability, market share, and loyalty are usually required to be calculated in conjunction with any sales and marketing campaign. Therefore, StrategyBuilder was designed to integrate such KPI’s with the results of a predictive model in order to render the appropriate treatment for each customer segment. These results are all integrated into a deployment strategy that can also be translated into an execution code in SQL or SAS.

The above competitive features offered by the software products of Angoss is behind its success in serving over 4000 users from over 500 clients worldwide.

Ajay -Describe a major case study where using Angoss software helped save a big amount of revenue/costs by innovative data mining.

a-Rogers Telecommunications Inc. is one of the largest Canadian telecommunications providers, serving over 8.5 million customers and a revenue of 11.1 Billion Canadian Dollars (2009). In 2008, Rogers engaged Angoss in order to help with the problem of ballooning accounts receivable for a period of 18 months.

The problem was approached by improving the efficiency of the call centre serving the collections process by a set of predictive models. The first set of models were designed to find accounts likely to default ahead of time in order to take preventative measures. A second set of models were designed to optimize the call centre resources to focus on delinquent accounts likely to pay back most of the outstanding balance. Accounts that were identified as not likely to pack quickly were good candidates for “Early-out” treatment, by forwarding them directly to collection agencies. Angoss hosted Rogers’ data and provided on a regular interval the lists of accounts for each treatment to be deployed by the call centre dialler. As a result of this Rogers estimated an improvement of 10% of the collected sums.

Biography-

Mamdouh has been active in consulting, research, and training in various areas of information technology and software development for the last 20 years. He has worked on numerous projects with major organizations in North America and Europe in the areas of data mining, business analytics, business analysis, and engineering analysis. He has held several consulting positions for solution providers including Predict AG in Basel, Switzerland, and as ANGOSS Corp. Mamdouh is the Director of Professional services for EMEA region of ANGOSS Software. Mamdouh received his PhD in engineering from the University of Toronto and his MBA from the University of Leeds, UK.

Mamdouh is the author of:

"Credit Risk Scorecards: Development and Implmentation using SAS"
 "Data Preparation for Data Mining Using SAS",
 (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems) (Paperback)
 and co-author of
 "Data Mining: Know it all",Morgan Kaufmann



Eberhard Miethke  works as a senior sales executive for Angoss

 

About Angoss-

Angoss is a global leader in delivering business intelligence software and predictive analytics to businesses looking to improve performance across sales, marketing and risk. With a suite of desktop, client-server and in-database software products and Software-as-a-Service solutions, Angoss delivers powerful approaches to turn information into actionable business decisions and competitive advantage.

Angoss software products and solutions are user-friendly and agile, making predictive analytics accessible and easy to use.

Games on Google Plus

You can see the games icon quite discreetly- thus gaming is in a seperate universe of its own, not cluttering your stream ala you know who.

The only flipsyde- you may end up spending much more time here 🙂

Angry Birds-

https://plus.google.com/u/0/games/971508122032

 

Bejeweled Blitz-

https://plus.google.com/u/0/games/78439823804

 

Number of Games is too low- though I am glad Zynga is on Google Plus- but then Google is an investor in Zynga and by any standards it is a wonderful platform

Rest of the games as below-

The Best of Google Plus Week 3- Top 1/0

 

While the funny GIFs continue in week 3, I find more and more people using this to paste their blog articles- so another channel to create and spread content.

I am waiting for certain features-

  1. Importing my Orkut data seamlessly into Google Plus
  2. The Gaming Channel using Zynga- Open Social Games
  3. Hangout to have screen sharing as well as screen recording (or export to Youtube features)
  4. Better integration of Sparks based activity.
  5. Also if existing Youtube comments/fan communities can utilize G+ accounts too
Anyways, after all that violence and double talk- the best content in Week 3 as per my Google + stream.
Special Mention-

Top 10 Games on Linux -sudo update

The phrase "Doom clone" was initiall...
Image via Wikipedia

Here are some cool games I like to play on my Ubuntu 10.10 – I think they run on most other versions of Linux as well. 1) Open ArenaFirst person Shooter– This is like Quake Arena- very very nice graphics and good for playing for a couple of hours while taking a break. It is available here- http://openarena.ws/smfnews.php ideally if you have a bunch of gaming friends, playing on a local network or internet is quite mind blowing entertaining. And it’s free! 2) Armagetron– This is based on the TRON game of light cycles-It is available here at http://www.armagetronad.net/ or you can use Synaptic packages manager for all the games mentioned here

If violence or cars is not your stuff and you like puzzles like Sudoko, well just install the application Sudoko from http://gnome-sudoku.sourceforge.net/ Also recommended for people of various ages as it has multiple levels.

If you ever liked Pinball play the open source version from download at http://pinball.sourceforge.net/ Alternatively you can go to Ubuntu Software Centre>Games>Arcade>Emilio>Pinball and you can also build your own pinball if you like the game well enough. 5) Pacman/Njam- Clone of the original classic game.  Downloadable from http://www.linuxcompatible.org/news/story/pacman_for_linux.html 6) Gweled– This is free clone version of Bejeweled. It now has a new website at http://gweled.org/ http://linux.softpedia.com/progDownload/Gweled-Download-3449.html

Gweled is a GNOME version of a popular PalmOS/Windows/Java game called “Bejeweled” or “Diamond Mine”. The aim of the game is to make alignment of 3 or more gems, both vertically or horizontally by swapping adjacent gems. The game ends when there are no possible moves left. Here are some key features of “Gweled”: · exact same gameplay as the commercial versions · SVG original graphics

7) Hearts – For this card game classis you can use Ubuntu software to install the package or go to http://linuxappfinder.com/package/gnome-hearts 8) Card Games- KPatience has almost 14 card games including solitaire, and free cell. 9) Sauerbraten -First person shooter with good network play, edit maps capabilities. You can read more here- http://sauerbraten.org/ 10) Tetris-KBlocks Tetris is the classic game. If you like classic slow games- Tetris is the best. and I like the toughest Tetris game -Bastet http://fph.altervista.org/prog/bastet.html Even an xkcd toon for it

Microsoft Online Games

No, this is not about the X Box kind of games. It is about Microsoft ‘s tactical shift in the online space from going it alone, and building stuff itself, –to partnering, and sometimes investing and exiting business.

In Blogs- It recently announced a migration of MS Live Spaces to WordPress.com – It gives Automattic 30 million more users- no small change consider there were 26 million existing WP users.

Microsoft Messenger, which is the oldest online app in the suite, now provides instant messaging services to about 350 million users, and from now on Windows Live Writer works specifically with the WordPress.com blog service by default. Hopefully Skype, and Google Voice will show MS the way to monitize that business app yet.

Google buying blogger-blogspot seems to have done little, but given Biz Stone room to create another content disruption-Twitter.

With the round of lawsuits by proxy, in Android -Motorola, or for acquisitions – MS is just doing what Marc Anderseen (who’s apparently a better VC than Paul Allen was), Sun and co did to it in the nineties.

Google seems to be regretting putting a spade in the Yahoo acquisition- that would have tied up a big chunk of Idle MS cash- leaving it little room for niche investments (like the 250 mill that helped Facebook ramp up in time).

The real surprise here could be Apple- it has shown little interest in cloud computing- and it seems to be testing the waters with Ping. But Apple sure smells competition- and Android is doing to Iphone what Windows did to the Mac in the early 1990’s.

Google lacks presence in online gaming (despite it’s own Zynga investment)- and needs to start monetizing properties like Android OS (say 10$ for every phone license ??), Google Maps (as an app for GPS) and Google Voice. Indeed it may be time for the big G to start thinking of spinning off atleast some products- earning better returns, while retaining control (dual stock splits) and killing those anti trust lawyer fees forever.

As the Ancient Chinese said, May you live in interesting times. Fun to watch the online games people play.

 

 

A Company called Zynga

Here is one of the coolest companies making a buzz right now- it is called Zynga http://www.zynga.com/

They have built some of the top games on Facebook (including a game called Mafia Wars which is sadly so addictive it should be made).

Gaming communities and discussion boards including at www.travian.com are one of the hottest forums , with steady revenue generation models and quite a lot of nice math and statistics behind the wheels.

image

(Psst- if you are present on Facebook please send me a Facebook invite at ajayohri@yahoo.com and we can play Mafia Wars too)