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
Image via Wikipedia

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.

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Filtering to Gain Social Network Value
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Social Networks Hype Cycle
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R is Ready for Business™

A new 5 page brochure from Revolution Analytics. Not that slick and some marketing under-kill (which frankly is a surprise)- but I guess Revolution Analytics does not have a full time graphics designer to help with it’s collateral.

Take a look if you are curious how and why R is getting more and more ready for business.

AsterData partners with Tableau

This chart represents several constituent comp...
Image via Wikipedia

Tableau which has been making waves recntly with its great new data visualization tool announced a partner with my old friends at AsterData. Its really cool piece of data vis and very very fast on the desktop- so I can imagine what speed it can help with AsterData’s MPP Row and Column Zingbang AND Parallel Analytical Functions

Tableau and AsterData also share the common Stanfordian connection (but it seems software is divided quite equally between Stanford, Hardvard Dropouts and North Carolina )

It remains to be seen in this announcement how much each company  can leverage the partnership or whether it turns like the SAS Institute- AsterData partnership last year or whether it is just to announce connectors in their software to talk to each other.

See a Tableau vis at

http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/geographyofdiabetes/Dashboard2?:embed=yes&:toolbar=yes

AsterData remains the guys with the potential but I would be wrong to say MapReduceSQL is as hot in December 2010 as it was in June 2009- and the elephant in the room would be Hadoop. That and Google’s continued shyness from encashing its principal comptency of handling Big Data (but hush – I signed a NDA with the Google Prediction API– so things maaaay change very rapidly on ahem that cloud)

Disclaimer- AsterData was my internship sponsor during my winter training while at Univ of  Tenn.

 

Brief Interview with James G Kobielus

Here is a brief one question interview with James Kobielus, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

Ajay-Describe the five most important events in Predictive Analytics you saw in 2010 and the top three trends in 2011 as per you.

Jim-

Five most important developments in 2010:

  • Continued emergence of enterprise-grade Hadoop solutions as the core of the future cloud-based platforms for advanced analytics
  • Development of the market for analytic solution appliances that incorporate several key features for advanced analytics: massively parallel EDW appliance, in-database analytics and data management function processing, embedded statistical libraries, prebuilt logical domain models, and integrated modeling and mining tools
  • Integration of advanced analytics into core BI platforms with user-friendly, visual, wizard-driven, tools for quick, exploratory predictive modeling, forecasting, and what-if analysis by nontechnical business users
  • Convergence of predictive analytics, data mining, content analytics, and CEP in integrated tools geared  to real-time social media analytics
  • Emergence of CRM and other line-of-business applications that support continuously optimized “next-best action” business processes through embedding of predictive models, orchestration engines, business rules engines, and CEP agility

Three top trends I see in the coming year, above and beyond deepening and adoption of the above-bulleted developments:

  • All-in-memory, massively parallel analytic architectures will begin to gain a foothold in complex EDW environments in support of real-time elastic analytics
  • Further crystallization of a market for general-purpose “recommendation engines” that, operating inline to EDWs, CEP environments, and BPM platforms, enable “next-best action” approaches to emerge from today’s application siloes
  • Incorporation of social network analysis functionality into a wider range of front-office business processes to enable fine-tuned behavioral-based customer segmentation to drive CRM optimization

About –http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/james_kobielus

James G. Kobielus
Senior Analyst, Forrester Research

RESEARCH FOCUS

James serves Business Process & Applications professionals. He is a leading expert on data warehousing, predictive analytics, data mining, and complex event processing. In addition to his core coverage areas, James contributes to Forrester’s research in business intelligence, data integration, data quality, and master data management.

PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE

James has a long history in IT research and consulting and has worked for both vendors and research firms. Most recently, he was at Current Analysis, an IT research firm, where he was a principal analyst covering topics ranging from data warehousing to data integration and the Semantic Web. Prior to that position, James was a senior technical systems analyst at Exostar (a hosted supply chain management and eBusiness hub for the aerospace and defense industry). In this capacity, James was responsible for identifying and specifying product/service requirements for federated identity, PKI, and other products. He also worked as an analyst for the Burton Group and was previously employed by LCC International, DynCorp, ADEENA, International Center for Information Technologies, and the North American Telecommunications Association. He is both well versed and experienced in product and market assessments. James is a widely published business/technology author and has spoken at many industry events

Interview James Dixon Pentaho

Here is an interview with James Dixon the founder of Pentaho, self confessed Chief Geek and CTO. Pentaho has been growing very rapidly and it makes open source Business Intelligence solutions- basically the biggest chunk of enterprise software market currently.

Ajay-  How would you describe Pentaho as a BI product for someone who is completely used to traditional BI vendors (read non open source). Do the Oracle lawsuits over Java bother you from a business perspective?

James-

Pentaho has a full suite of BI software:

* ETL: Pentaho Data Integration

* Reporting: Pentaho Reporting for desktop and web-based reporting

* OLAP: Mondrian ROLAP engine, and Analyzer or Jpivot for web-based OLAP client

* Dashboards: CDF and Dashboard Designer

* Predictive Analytics: Weka

* Server: Pentaho BI Server, handles web-access, security, scheduling, sharing, report bursting etc

We have all of the standard BI functionality.

The Oracle/Java issue does not bother me much. There are a lot of software companies dependent on Java. If Oracle abandons Java a lot resources will suddenly focus on OpenJDK. It would be good for OpenJDK and might be the best thing for Java in the long term.

Ajay-  What parts of Pentaho’s technology do you personally like the best as having an advantage over other similar proprietary packages.

Describe the latest Pentaho for Hadoop offering and Hadoop/HIVE ‘s advantage over say Map Reduce and SQL.

James- The coolest thing is that everything is pluggable:

* ETL: New data transformation steps can be added. New orchestration controls (job entries) can be added. New perspectives can be added to the design UI. New data sources and destinations can be added.

* Reporting: New content types and report objects can be added. New data sources can be added.

* BI Server: Every factory, engine, and layer can be extended or swapped out via configuration. BI components can be added. New visualizations can be added.

This means it is very easy for Pentaho, partners, customers, and community member to extend our software to do new things.

In addition every engine and component can be fully embedded into a desktop or web-based application. I made a youtube video about our philosophy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMyR-In5nKE

Our Hadoop offerings allow ETL developers to work in a familiar graphical design environment, instead of having to code MapReduce jobs in Java or Python.

90% of the Hadoop use cases we hear about are transformation/reporting/analysis of structured/semi-structured data, so an ETL tool is perfect for these situations.

Using Pentaho Data Integration reduces implementation and maintenance costs significantly. The fact that our ETL engine is Java and is embeddable means that we can deploy the engine to the Hadoop data nodes and transform the data within the nodes.

Ajay-  Do you think the combination of recession, outsourcing,cost cutting, and unemployment are a suitable environment for companies to cut technology costs by going out of their usual vendor lists and try open source for a change /test projects.

Jamie- Absolutely. Pentaho grew (downloads, installations, revenue) throughout the recession. We are on target to do 250% of what we did last year, while the established vendors are flat in terms of new license revenue.

Ajay-  How would you compare the user interface of reports using Pentaho versus other reporting software. Please feel free to be as specific.

James- We have all of the everyday, standard reporting features covered.

Over the years the old tools, like Crystal Reports, have become bloated and complicated.

We don’t aim to have 100% of their features, because we’d end us just as complicated.

The 80:20 rule applies here. 80% of the time people only use 20% of their features.

We aim for 80% feature parity, which should cover 95-99% of typical use cases.

Ajay-  Could you describe the Pentaho integration with R as well as your relationship with Weka. Jaspersoft already has a partnership with Revolution Analytics for RevoDeployR (R on a web server)-

Any  R plans for Pentaho as well?

James- The feature set of R and Weka overlap to a small extent – both of them include basic statistical functions. Weka is focused on predictive models and machine learning, whereas R is focused on a full suite of statistical models. The creator and main Weka developer is a Pentaho employee. We have integrated R into our ETL tool. (makes me happy 🙂 )

(probably not a good time to ask if SAS integration is done as well for a big chunk of legacy base SAS/ WPS users)

About-

As “Chief Geek” (CTO) at Pentaho, James Dixon is responsible for Pentaho’s architecture and technology roadmap. James has over 15 years of professional experience in software architecture, development and systems consulting. Prior to Pentaho, James held key technical roles at AppSource Corporation (acquired by Arbor Software which later merged into Hyperion Solutions) and Keyola (acquired by Lawson Software). Earlier in his career, James was a technology consultant working with large and small firms to deliver the benefits of innovative technology in real-world environments.

R Apache – The next frontier of R Computing

I am currently playing/ trying out RApache- one more excellent R product from Vanderbilt’s excellent Dept of Biostatistics and it’s prodigious coder Jeff Horner.

The big ninja himself

I really liked the virtual machine idea- you can download a virtual image of Rapache and play with it- .vmx is easy to create and great to share-

http://rapache.net/vm.html

Basically using R Apache (with an EC2 on backend) can help you create customized dashboards, BI apps, etc all using R’s graphical and statistical capabilities.

What’s R Apache?

As  per

http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/wiki/Main/RapacheWebServicesReport

Rapache embeds the R interpreter inside the Apache 2 web server. By doing this, Rapache realizes the full potential of R and its facilities over the web. R programmers configure appache by mapping Universal Resource Locaters (URL’s) to either R scripts or R functions. The R code relies on CGI variables to read a client request and R’s input/output facilities to write the response.

One advantage to Rapache’s architecture is robust multi-process management by Apache. In contrast to Rserve and RSOAP, Rapache is a pre-fork server utilizing HTTP as the communications protocol. Another advantage is a clear separation, a loose coupling, of R code from client code. With Rserve and RSOAP, the client must send data and R commands to be executed on the server. With Rapache the only client requirements are the ability to communicate via HTTP. Additionally, Rapache gains significant authentication, authorization, and encryption mechanism by virtue of being embedded in Apache.

Existing Demos of Architechture based on R Apache-

  1. http://rweb.stat.ucla.edu/ggplot2/ An interactive web dashboard for plotting graphics based on csv or Google Spreadsheet Data
  2. http://labs.dataspora.com/gameday/ A demo visualization of a web based dashboard system of baseball pitches by pitcher by player 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. http://data.vanderbilt.edu/rapache/bbplot For baseball results – a demo of a query based web dashboard system- very good BI feel.

Whats coming next in R Apache?

You can  download version 1.1.10 of rApache now. There
are only two significant changes and you don’t have to edit your
apache config or change any code (just recompile rApache and
reinstall):

1) Error reporting should be more informative. both when you
accidentally introduce errors in the Apache config, and when your code
introduces warnings and errors from web requests.

I’ve struggled with this one for awhile, not really knowing what
strategy would be best. Basically, rApache hooks into the R I/O layer
at such a low level that it’s hard to capture all warnings and errors
as they occur and introduce them to the user in a sane manner. In
prior releases, when ROutputErrors was in effect (either the apache
directive or the R function) one would typically see a bunch of grey
boxes with a red outline with a title of RApache Warning/Error!!!.
Unfortunately those grey boxes could contain empty lines, one line of
error, or a few that relate to the lines in previously displayed
boxes. Really a big uninformative mess.

The new approach is to print just one warning box with the title
“”Oops!!! <b>rApache</b> has something to tell you. View source and
read the HTML comments at the end.” and then as the title implies you
can read the HTML comment located at the end of the file… after the
closing html. That way, you’re actually reading how R would present
the warnings and errors to you as if you executed the code at the R
command prompt. And if you don’t use ROutputErrors, the warning/error
messages are printed in the Apache log file, just as they were before,
but nicer 😉

2) Code dispatching has changed so please let me know if I’ve
introduced any strange behavior.

This was necessary to enhance error reporting. Prior to this release,
rApache would use R’s C API exclusively to build up the call to your
code that is then passed to R’s evaluation engine. The advantage to
this approach is that it’s much more efficient as there is no parsing
involved, however all information about parse errors, files which
produced errors, etc. were lost. The new approach uses R’s built-in
parse function to build up the call and then passes it of to R. A
slight overhead, but it should be negligible. So, if you feel that
this approach is too slow OR I’ve introduced bugs or strange behavior,
please let me know.

FUTURE PLANS

I’m gaining more experience building Debian/Ubuntu packages each day,
so hopefully by some time in 2011 you can rely on binary releases for
these distributions and not install rApache from source! Fingers
crossed!

Development on the rApache 1.1 branch will be winding down (save bug
fix releases) as I transition to the 1.2 branch. This will involve
taking out a small chunk of code that defines the rApache development
environment (all the CGI variables and the functions such as
setHeader, setCookie, etc) and placing it in its own R package…
unnamed as of yet. This is to facilitate my development of the ralite
R package, a small single user cross-platform web server.

The goal for ralite is to speed up development of R web applications,
take out a bit of friction in the development process by not having to
run the full rApache server. Plus it would allow users to develop in
the rApache enronment while on windows and later deploy on more
capable server environments. The secondary goal for ralite is it’s use
in other web server environments (nginx and IIS come to mind) as a
persistent per-client process.

And finally, wiki.rapache.net will be the new www.rapache.net once I
translate the manual over… any day now.

From –http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/wiki/Main/JeffreyHorner

 

 

Not convinced ?- try the demos above.

Cloudera and Aster Data partner up

Basically making it easier for data to move between the two systems Hadoop (Cloudera) and Aster’s Analytics (MapReduce/SQL)-

From the press release-http://goo.gl/vgsr

today announced an agreement that unites Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop (CDH) with Aster Data nCluster. The integration enables customers to leverage MPP platforms for large-scale data processing, management and analytics across structured and unstructured formats to analyze massive amounts of data for deeper business insight.

Cloudera is building a massively parallel, two-way connector for high-speed movement of data between CDH and Aster Data nCluster. The connector will be supported as part of Cloudera Enterprise.

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