Clustering Business Analysts and Industry Analysts

In my interactions with the world at large (mostly online) in the ways of data, statistics and analytics- I come across people who like to call themselves analysts.

As per me, there are 4 kinds of analysts principally,

1) Corporate Analysts- They work for a particular software company. As per them their product is great and infallible, their code has no bugs, and last zillion customer case studies all got a big benefit by buying their software.

They are very good at writing software code themselves, unfortunately this expertise is restricted to Microsoft Outlook (emails) and MS Powerpoint ( presentations). No they are more like salesmen than analysts, but as Arthur Miller said ” All salesmen (person) are dreamers. When the dream dies, the salesman (person) dies (read transfers to bigger job at a rival company)

2) Third -Party Independent Analsyst- The main reason they are third party is they can not be tolerated in a normal corporate culture, their spouse can barely stand them for more than 2 hours a day, and their Intelligence is not matched by their emotional maturity. Alas, after turning independent analysts, they realize they are actually more dependent to people than before, and they quickly polish their behaviour to praise who ever is sponsoring their webinar,  white paper , newsletter, or flying them to junkets. They are more of boutique consultants, but they used to be quite nifty at writing code, when younger, so they call themselves independent and “Noted Industry Analyst”

3) Researcher Analysts- They mostly scrape info from press releases which are mostly written by a hapless overworked communications team thrown at a task at last moment. They get into one hour call with who ever is the press or industry/analyst  relations honcho is- turn the press release into bullet points, and publish on the blog. They call this as research Analysts and give it away for free (but actually couldnt get anyone to pay for it for last 4 years). Couldnt write code if their life depended on it, but usually will find transformation and expert somehwere in their resume/about me web page. May have co -authored a book, which would have gotten them a F for plagiarism had they submitted it as a thesis.

4) Analytical Analysts- They are mostly buried deep within organizational bureaucracies if corporate, or within partnerships if they are independent. Understand coding, innovation (or creativity). Not very aggressive at networking unless provoked by an absolute idiot belonging to first three classes of industry analyst. Prefer to read Atlas Shrugged than argue on business semantics.

Next time you see an industry expert- you know which cluster to classify them 😉

Image Citation-

http://gapingvoidgallery.com/

PAW Reception and R Meetup

New DC meetup for R Users-

source- http://www.meetup.com/R-users-DC/calendar/14236478/

October’s R meet-up will be co-located with the Predictive Analytics World Conference (http://www.predictive…) taking place in Washington DC October 19-20. PAW is the premiere business-focused event for predictive analytics professionals, managers and commercial practitioners.

Agenda:

6:30 – 7:30 PAW Reception (open to meet-up attendees)
7:30 – 9:00 DC-R Meetup

Talks:
“How to speak ggplot2 like a native”
Harlan D. Harris, PhD @HarlanH

“Saving the world with R”
Michael Milton @michaelmilton

Important Registration Instructions:
You are welcome to RSVP here at meetup. The PAW organizers have requested that we register in the PAW site for the R meetup so they can provide badges to members which will give you access to the reception. There is no charge to register using the PAW site. Please click here to register.


Speaker Bios

Harlan D. Harris, PhD, is a statistical data scientist working for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions in New York City. He has degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to turning to the private sector, he worked as a researcher and lecturer in various areas of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science at the University of Illinois, Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, and New York University.

Harlan’s talk is titled “How to speak ggplot2 like a native.”. One of the most innovative ideas in data visualization in recent years is that graphical images can be described using a grammar. Just as a fluent speaker of a language can talk more precisely and clearly than someone using a tourist phrasebook, graphics based on a grammar can yield more insights than graphics based on a limited set of templates (bar chart, pie graph, etc.). There are at least two implementations of the Grammar of Graphics idea in R, of which the most popular is the ggplot2 package written by Prof. Hadley Wickham. Just as with natural languages, ggplot2 has a surface structure made up of R vocabulary elements, as well as a deep structure that mediates the link between the vocabulary and the “semantic” representation of the data shown on a computer screen. In this introductory presentation, the links among these levels of representation are demonstrated, so that new ggplot2 users can build the mental models necessary for fluent and creative visualization of their data.

Michael Milton is a Client Manager at Blue State Digital. When he’s not saving the world by designing interactive marketing strategies that connect passionate users with causes and organizations, he writes about data and analytics. For O’Reilly Media, he wrote Head First Data Analysis and Head First Excel and has created the videos Great R: Level 1 and Getting the Most Out of Google Apps for Business.

Michael’s talk is called “How to Save the World Using R.” In this wide-ranging discussion, Michael will highlight individuals and organizations who are using R to help others as well as ways in which R can be used to promote good statistical thinking.

Where is Waldo? Webcast on Network Intelligence

From the good folks at AsterData, a webcast on a slightly interesting analytics topic

Enterprises and government agencies can become overwhelmed with information. The value of all that data lies in the insights it can reveal. To get the maximum value, you need an analytic platform that lets you analyze terabytes of information rapidly for immediate actionable insights.

Aster Data’s massively parallel database with an integrated analytics engine can quickly reveal hard-to-recognize trends on huge datasets which other systems miss. The secret? A patent-pending SQL-MapReduce framework that enables business analysts and business intelligence (BI) tools to iteratively analyze big data more quickly. This allows you to find anomalies more quickly and stop disasters before they happen.

Discover how you can improve:

  • Network intelligence via graph analysis to understand connectivity among suspects, information propagation, and the flow of goods
  • Security analysis to prevent fraud, bot attacks, and other breaches
  • Geospatial analytics to quickly uncover details about regions and subsets within those communities
  • Visual analytics to derive deeper insights more quickly

Analytics and Journals

Some good journals for reading on analytics-

1) JSS

http://www.jstatsoft.org/

present research that demonstrates the joint evolution of computational and statistical methods and techniques.  Implementations can use languages such as C, C++, S, Fortran, Java, PHP, Python and Ruby or environments such as Mathematica, MATLAB, R, S-PLUS, SAS, Stata, and XLISP-STAT.

There are currently 370 articles, 23 code snippets, 86 book reviews, 4 software reviews, and 7 special volumes in archives

2) R Journal

http://journal.r-project.org/

The  Journal

3) Pharma Programming

http://maney.co.uk/index.php/journals/pha/

Pharmaceutical Programming is the official journal of the Pharmaceutical Users Software Exchange (PhUSE), a non-profit membership society with the objective of educating programmers and their managers working in the pharmaceutical industry. Available both in print and online, Pharmaceutical Programming is an international journal with focus on programming in the regulated environment of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.

4) SAS Papers – User Groups

http://www.lexjansen.com/

4569 SAS papers presented
at SGF/SUGI 1996-2010.
1343 SAS papers presented
at PharmaSUG 2000-2010.
1810 SAS papers presented
at NESUG 1997-2009.
1191 SAS papers presented
at SESUG 1999-2009.
463 SAS papers presented
at PhUSE 2005-2009.
787 SAS papers presented
at WUSS 2003-2009.
337 SAS papers presented
at MWSUG 2001, 2004-2009.
188 SAS papers presented
at PNWSUG 2004-2009.
246 SAS papers presented
at SCSUG 2003-2007, 2009.
221 SAS papers related to CDISC.
Easy access to the CDISC Forum.

5) http://analyticsmagazine.com/

Magazine by http://www.informs.org/

6) Data Mining Journals

Academic Journals

Journals relevant to Data Mining

KXEN Update

Update from a very good data mining software company, KXEN –

  1. Longtime Chairman and founder Roger Haddad is retiring but would be a Board Member. See his interview with Decisionstats here https://decisionstats.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/interview-roger-haddad-founder-of-kxen-automated-modeling-software/ (note images were hidden due to migration from .com to .wordpress.com )
  2. New Members of Leadership are as-
John Ball, CEOJohn Ball
Chief Executive Officer

John Ball brings 20 years of experience in enterprise software, deep expertise in business intelligence and CRM applications, and a proven track record of success driving rapid growth at highly innovative companies.

Prior to joining KXEN, Mr. Ball served in several executive roles at salesforce.com, the leading provider of SaaS applications. Most recently, John served as VP & General Manager, Analytics and Reporting Products, where he spearheaded salesforce.com’s foray into CRM analytics and business intelligence. John also served as VP & General Manager, Service and Support Applications at salesforce.com, where he successfully grew the business to become the second largest and fastest growing product line at salesforce.com. Before salesforce.com, Ball was founder and CEO of Netonomy, the leading provider of customer self-service solutions for the telecommunications industry. Ball also held a number of executive roles at Business Objects, including General Manager, Web Products, where delivered to market the first 3 versions of WebIntelligence. Ball has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in electric

I hope John atleast helps build a KXEN Force.com application- there are only 2 data mining apps there on App Exchange. Also on the wish list  more social media presence, a Web SaaS/Amazon API for KXEN, greater presence in American/Asian conferences, and a solution for SME’s (which cannot afford the premium pricing of the flagship solution. An alliance with bigger BI vendors like Oracle, SAP or IBM  for selling the great social network analysis.

Bill Russell as Non Executive Chairman-

Bill Russell as Non-executive Chairman of the Board, effective July 16 2010. Russell has 30 years of operational experience in enterprise software, with a special focus on business intelligence, analytics, and databases.Russell held a number of senior-level positions in his more than 20 years at Hewlett-Packard, including Vice President and General Manager of the multi-billion dollar Enterprise Systems Group. He has served as Non-executive Chairman of the Board for Sylantro Systems Corporation, webMethods Inc., and Network Physics, Inc. and has served as a board director for Cognos Inc. In addition to KXEN, Russell currently serves on the boards of Saba, PROS Holdings Inc., Global 360, ParAccel Inc., and B.T. Mancini Company.

Xavier Haffreingue as senior vice president, worldwide professional services and solutions.
He has almost 20 years of international enterprise software experience gained in the CRM, BI, Web and database sectors. Haffreingue joins KXEN from software provider Axway where he was VP global support operations. Prior to Axway, he held various leadership roles in the software industry, including VP self service solutions at Comverse Technologies and VP professional services and support at Netonomy, where he successfully delivered multi-million dollar projects across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa. Before that he was with Business Objects and Sybase, where he ran support and services in southern Europe managing over 2,500 customers in more than 20 countries.

David Guercio  as senior vice president, Americas field operations. Guercio brings to the role more than 25 years experience of building and managing high-achieving sales teams in the data mining, business intelligence and CRM markets. Guercio comes to KXEN from product lifecycle management vendor Centric Software, where he was EVP sales and client services. Prior to Centric, he was SVP worldwide sales and client services at Inxight Software, where he was also Chairman and CEO of the company’s Federal Systems Group, a subsidiary of Inxight that saw success in the US Federal Government intelligence market. The success in sales growth and penetration into the federal government led to the acquisition of Inxight by Business Objects in 2007, where Guercio then led the Inxight sales organization until Business Objects was acquired by SAP. Guercio was also a key member of the management team and a co-founder at Neovista, an early pioneer in data mining and predictive analytics. Additionally, he held the positions of director of sales and VP of professional services at Metaphor Computer Systems, one of the first data extraction solutions companies, which was acquired by IBM. During his career, Guercio also held executive positions at Resonate and SiGen.

3) Venture Capital funding to fund expansion-

It has closed $8 million in series D funding to further accelerate its growth and international expansion. The round was led by NextStage and included participation from existing investors XAnge Capital, Sofinnova Ventures, Saints Capital and Motorola Ventures.

This was done after John Ball had joined as CEO.

4) Continued kudos from analysts and customers for it’s technical excellence.

KXEN was named a leader in predictive analytics and data mining by Forrester Research (1) and was rated highest for commercial deployments of social network analytics by Frost & Sullivan (2)

Also it became an alliance partner of Accenture- which is also a prominent SAS partner as well.

In Database Optimization-

In KXEN V5.1, a new data manipulation module (ADM) is provided in conjunction with scoring to optimize database workloads and provide full in-database model deployment. Some leading data mining vendors are only now beginning to offer this kind of functionality, and then with only one or two selected databases, giving KXEN a more than five-year head start. Some other vendors are only offering generic SQL generation, not optimized for each database, and do not provide the wealth of possible outputs for their scoring equations: For example, real operational applications require not only to generate scores, but decision probabilities, error bars, individual input contributions – used to derive reasons of decision and more, which are available in KXEN in-database scoring modules.

Since 2005, KXEN has leveraged databases as the data manipulation engine for analytical dataset generation. In 2008, the ADM (Analytical Data Management) module delivered a major enhancement by providing a very easy to use data manipulation environment with unmatched productivity and efficiency. ADM works as a generator of optimized database-specific SQL code and comes with an integrated layer for the management of meta-data for analytics.

KXEN Modeling Factory- (similar to SAS’s recent product Rapid Predictive Modeler http://www.sas.com/resources/product-brief/rapid-predictive-modeler-brief.pdf and http://jtonedm.com/2010/09/02/first-look-rapid-predictive-modeler/)

KXEN Modeling Factory (KMF) has been designed to automate the development and maintenance of predictive analytics-intensive systems, especially systems that include large numbers of models, vast amounts of data or require frequent model refreshes. Information about each project and model is monitored and disseminated to ensure complete management and oversight and to facilitate continual improvement in business performance.

Main Functions

Schedule: creation of the Analytic Data Set (ADS), setup of how and when to score, setup of when and how to perform model retraining and refreshes …

Report
: Monitormodel execution over time, Track changes in model quality over time, see how useful one variable is by considering its multiple instance in models …

Notification
: Rather than having to wade through pages of event logs, KMF Department allows users to manage by exception through notifications.

Other products from KXEN have been covered here before https://decisionstats.wordpress.com/tag/kxen/ , including Structural Risk Minimization- https://decisionstats.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/kxen-automated-regression-modeling/

Thats all for the KXEN update- all the best to the new management team and a splendid job done by Roger Haddad in creating what is France and Europe’s best known data mining company.

Note- Source – http://www.kxen.com


Aster Data hires Quentin Gallivan as CEO

AsterData formally marked phase 2 of it’s rapid growth story by getting as new CEO Quentin Gallivan (of Postini before it was sold to Google and also Pivotlink).

Founders (and Stanfordians) Mayan Bawa stays as Chief Customer Officer and Tasso Argyros as CTO. It has a very deja vu feel -like Eric Schmidt coming in CEO of Google in the glory days past.  Indeed the investment team in Google and AsterData is quite similar and so are the backgrounds of the founders.

AsterData of course creates the leading MapReduce (also created by Google) solution for providing BI infrastructure for big data and has been rapidly been expanding into new frontiers for Big Data.

Aster Data Appoints New Chief Executive Officer

Quentin Gallivan Joins Aster Data as CEO to Lead Company to Next Level of Growth

San Carlos, CA – September 9, 2010– Aster Data, a proven leader dedicated to providing the best data management and data processing platform for big data management and analytics, today announced the appointment of Quentin Gallivan as President and CEO. Gallivan brings more than 20 years of senior executive experience to the leading analytics and database company. With Aster Data achieving tremendous growth in the past year, Gallivan will take Aster Data to the next level, further accelerating its market leadership, sales, channel partnerships and international expansion.  Founding CEO Mayank Bawa, who grew the company from its inception based on the founders’ research at Stanford University, and whose passion for helping customers uniquely unlock the value of their data, will take on the role of Chief Customer Officer.  Bawa, in his new role, will lead the Company’s organization devoted to ensuring the success, longevity and innovation of its fast-growing customer base. Together, Gallivan and Bawa, along with co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Tasso Argyros, will deliver on the the Company’s mission to help customers discover more value from their data, achieve deep insights through rich analytics and do more with their massive data volumes than has ever been possible.

Gallivan joins Aster Data with over 20 years of leadership experience in the high-tech industry and has held a variety of CEO and senior executive positions with leading technology companies. Before joining Aster Data, Gallivan served as CEO at PivotLink, the leading provider of business intelligence (BI) solutions delivered via Software as a Service (SaaS), where he rapidly grew the company to over 15,000 business users, from mid-sized companies to Fortune 1000 companies, across key industries including financial services, retail, CPG manufacturing and high technology. Prior to Pivotlink, Gallivan served as CEO of Postini where he scaled the company to 35,000 customers and over 10 million users until its eventual acquisition by Google in 2007.  Gallivan also served as executive vice president of worldwide sales and services at VeriSign where he was instrumental in growing the business from $20 million to $1.2 billion and was responsible for the design and execution of the global distribution strategy for the company’s security and services business. Gallivan also held a number of key executive and leadership positions at Netscape Communications and GE Information Services.

“We are delighted to have someone of Quentin’s caliber, who is a veteran of both emerging and established technology companies, lead Aster Data through our next stage of growth,” said Mayank Bawa, Chief Customer Officer and co-founder, Aster Data. “His significant experience around growing organizations and driving operational excellence will be invaluable as he takes Aster Data forward. I’m excited to shift my focus to customers and their success; to bring our innovations to our customers worldwide to help them unlock deep value from their growing data volumes.”

“I am very excited to be joining Aster Data and taking on the challenge of augmenting its already impressive level of growth and success.  Aster Data is very well respected and established in the marketplace, has an enviable solution for big data management that uniquely addresses both big data storage and data processing, an impressive client list and a very talented team,” said Quentin Gallivan, President and CEO, Aster Data. “My task will be to leverage these assets, help shape a new market and provide operational guidance and strategic direction to drive even greater value for shareholders, customers and employees alike.”

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.