Timo Elliott on 2012

Continuing the DecisionStats series on  trends for 2012, Timo Elliott , Technology Evangelist  at SAP Business Objects, looks at the predictions he made in the beginning of  2011 and follows up with the things that surprised him in 2011, and what he foresees in 2012.

You can read last year’s predictions by Mr Elliott at http://www.decisionstats.com/brief-interview-timo-elliott/

Timo- Here are my comments on the “top three analytics trends” predictions I made last year:

(1) Analytics, reinvented. New DW techniques make it possible to do sub-second, interactive analytics directly against row-level operational data. Now BI processes and interfaces need to be rethought and redesigned to make best use of this — notably by blurring the distinctions between the “design” and “consumption” phases of BI.

I spent most of 2011 talking about this theme at various conferences: how existing BI technology israpidly becoming obsolete and how the changes are akin to the move from film to digital photography. Technology that has been around for many years (in-memory, column stores, datawarehouse appliances, etc.) came together to create exciting new opportunities and even generally-skeptical industry analysts put out press releases such as “Gartner Says Data Warehousing Reaching Its Most Significant Inflection Point Since Its Inception.” Some of the smaller BI vendors had been pushing in-memory analytics for years, but the general market started paying more attention when megavendors like SAP started painting a long-term vision of in-memory becoming a core platform for applications, not just analytics. Database leader Oracle was forced to upgrade their in-memory messaging from “It’s a complete fantasy” to “we have that too”.

(2) Corporate and personal BI come together. The ability to mix corporate and personal data for quick, pragmatic analysis is a common business need. The typical solution to the problem — extracting and combining the data into a local data store (either Excel or a departmental data mart) — pleases users, but introduces duplication and extra costs and makes a mockery of information governance. 2011 will see the rise of systems that let individuals and departments load their data into personal spaces in the corporate environment, allowing pragmatic analytic flexibility without compromising security and governance.

The number of departmental “data discovery” initiatives continued to rise through 2011, but new tools do make it easier for business people to upload and manipulate their own information while using the corporate standards. 2012 will see more development of “enterprise data discovery” interfaces for casual users.

(3) The next generation of business applications. Where are the business applications designed to support what people really do all day, such as implementing this year’s strategy, launching new products, or acquiring another company? 2011 will see the first prototypes of people-focused, flexible, information-centric, and collaborative applications, bringing together the best of business intelligence, “enterprise 2.0”, and existing operational applications.

2011 saw the rise of sophisticated, user-centric mobile applications that combine data from corporate systems with GPS mapping and the ability to “take action”, such as mobile medical analytics for doctors or mobile beauty advisor applications, and collaborative BI started becoming a standard part of enterprise platforms.

And one that should happen, but probably won’t: (4) Intelligence = Information + PEOPLE. Successful analytics isn’t about technology — it’s about people, process, and culture. The biggest trend in 2011 should be organizations spending the majority of their efforts on user adoption rather than technical implementation.

Unsurprisingly, there was still high demand for presentations on why BI projects fail and how to implement BI competency centers.  The new architectures probably resulted in even more emphasis on technology than ever, while business peoples’ expectations skyrocketed, fueled by advances in the consumer world. The result was probably even more dissatisfaction in the past, but the benefits of the new architectures should start becoming clearer during 2012.

What surprised me the most:

The rapid rise of Hadoop / NoSQL. The potentials of the technology have always been impressive, but I was surprised just how quickly these technology has been used to address real-life business problems (beyond the “big web” vendors where it originated), and how quickly it is becoming part of mainstream enterprise analytic architectures (e.g. Sybase IQ 15.4 includes native MapReduce APIs, Hadoop integration and federation, etc.)

Prediction for 2012:

As I sat down to gather my thoughts about BI in 2012, I quickly came up with the same long laundry list of BI topics as everybody else: in-memory, mobile, predictive, social, collaborative decision-making, data discovery, real-time, etc. etc.  All of these things are clearly important, and where going to continue to see great improvements this year. But I think that the real “next big thing” in BI is what I’m seeing when I talk to customers: they’re using these new opportunities not only to “improve analytics” but also fundamentally rethink some of their key business processes.

Instead of analytics being something that is used to monitor and eventually improve a business process, analytics is becoming a more fundamental part of the business process itself. One example is a large telco company that has transformed the way they attract customers. Instead of laboriously creating a range of rate plans, promoting them, and analyzing the results, they now use analytics to automatically create hundreds of more complex, personalized rate plans. They then throw them out into the market, monitor in real time, and quickly cull any that aren’t successful. It’s a way of doing business that would have been inconceivable in the past, and a lot more common in the future.

 

About

 

Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is a 20-year veteran of SAP BusinessObjects, and has spent the last quarter-century working with customers around the world on information strategy.

He works closely with SAP research and innovation centers around the world to evangelize new technology prototypes.

His popular Business Analytics blog tracks innovation in analytics and social media, including topics such as augmented corporate reality, collaborative decision-making, and social network analysis.

His PowerPoint Twitter Tools lets presenters see and react to tweets in real time, embedded directly within their slides.

A popular and engaging speaker, Elliott presents regularly to IT and business audiences at international conferences, on subjects such as why BI projects fail and what to do about it, and the intersection of BI and enterprise 2.0.

Prior to Business Objects, Elliott was a computer consultant in Hong Kong and led analytics projects for Shell in New Zealand. He holds a first-class honors degree in Economics with Statistics from Bristol University, England

Timo can be contacted via Twitter at https://twitter.com/timoelliott

 Part 1 of this series was from James Kobielus, Forrestor at http://www.decisionstats.com/jim-kobielus-on-2012/

Jim Kobielus on 2012

Jim Kobielus revisits the predictions he made in 2011 (and a summary of 2010) , and makes some fresh ones for 2012. For technology watchers, this is an article by one of the gurus of enterprise software.

 

All of those trends predictions (at http://www.decisionstats.com/brief-interview-with-james-g-kobielus/ ) came true in 2011, and are in full force in 2012 as well.Here are my predictions for 2012, and the links to the 3 blogposts in which I made them last month:

 

The Year Ahead in Next Best Action? Here’s the Next Best Thing to a Crystal Ball!

  • The next-best-action market will continue to coalesce around core solution capabilities.
  • Data scientists will become the principal application developers for next best action.
  • Real-world experiments will become the new development paradigm in next best action.

The Year Ahead in Advanced Analytics? Advances on All Fronts!

  • Open-source platforms will expand their footprint in advanced analytics.
  • Data science centers of excellence will spring up everywhere.
  • Predictive analytics and interactive exploration will enter the mainstream BI user experience:

The Year Ahead In Big Data? Big, Cool, New Stuff Looms Large!

  • Enterprise Hadoop deployments will expand at a rapid clip.
  • In-memory analytics platforms will grow their footprint.
  • Graph databases will come into vogue.

 

And in an exclusive and generous favor for DecisionStats, Jim does some crystal gazing for the cloud computing field in 2012-

Cloud/SaaS EDWs will cross the enterprise-adoption inflection point. In 2012, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) enterprise data warehouses (EDWs), offered on a public subscription basis, will gain greater enterprise adoption as a complement or outright replacement for appliance- and software-based EDWs. A growing number of established and startup EDW vendors will roll out cloud/SaaS “Big Data” offerings. Many of these will supplement and extend RDBMS and columnar technologies with Hadoop, key-value, graph, document, and other new database architectures.

About-

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

James G. Kobielus James G. Kobielus
Senior Analyst

RESEARCH FOCUS

 

James serves Business Process & Application Development & Delivery 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.

Contact –

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jameskobielus

SAS Institute Financials 2011

SAS Institute has release it’s financials for 2011 at http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2011financials.html,

Revenue surged across all solution and industry categories. Software to detect fraud saw a triple-digit jump. Revenue from on-demand solutions grew almost 50 percent. Growth from analytics and information management solutions were double digit, as were gains from customer intelligence, retail, risk and supply chain solutions

AJAY- and as a private company it is quite nice that they are willing to share so much information every year.

The graphics are nice ( and the colors much better than in 2010) , but pie-charts- seriously dude there is no way to compare how much SAS revenue is shifting across geographies or even across industries. So my two cents is – lose the pie charts, and stick to line graphs please for the share of revenue by country /industry.

In 2011, SAS grew staff 9.2 percent and reinvested 24 percent of revenue into research and development

AJAY- So that means 654 million dollars spent in Research and Development.  I wonder if SAS has considered investing in much smaller startups (than it’s traditional strategy of doing all research in-house and completely acquiring a smaller company)

Even a small investment of say 5-10 million USD in open source , or even Phd level research projects could greatly increase the ROI on that.

That means

Analyzing a private company’s financials are much more fun than a public company, and I remember the words of my finance professor ( “dig , dig”) to compare 2011 results with 2010 results.

http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2010financials.html

The percentage invested in R and D is exactly the same (24%) and the percentages of revenue earned from each geography is exactly the same . So even though revenue growth increased from 5.2 % to 9% in 2011, both the geographic spread of revenues and share  R&D costs remained EXACTLY the same.

The Americas accounted for 46 percent of total revenue; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 42 percent; and Asia Pacific 12 percent.

Overall, I think SAS remains a 35% market share (despite all that noise from IBM, SAS clones, open source) because they are good at providing solutions customized for industries (instead of just software products), the market for analytics is not saturated (it seems to be growing faster than 12% or is it) , and its ability to attract and retain the best analytical talent (which in a non -American tradition for a software company means no stock options, job security, and great benefits- SAS remains almost Japanese in HR practices).

In 2010, SAS grew staff by 2.4 percent, in 2011 SAS grew staff by 9 percent.

But I liked the directional statement made here-and I think that design interfaces, algorithmic and computational efficiencies should increase analytical time, time to think on business and reduce data management time further!

“What would you do with the extra time if your code ran in two minutes instead of five hours?” Goodnight challenged.

Business Analytics Projects

As per me, Analytics Projects get into these four  broad phases-

  • Business Problem  PhaseWhat needs to be done?
  1. Increase Revenues
  2. Cut Costs
  3. Investigate Unusual Events
  4. Project Timelines
  • Technical Problem PhaseTechnical Problems in Project Execution 
  1. Data Availability /Data Quality/Data Augmentation Costs
  2. Statistical -(Technique based approach) , Hypothesis Formulation,Sampling, Iterations
  3. Programming-(Tool based approach) Analytics Platform Coding (Input, Formats,Processing)
  • Technical Solution PhaseProblem Solving using the Tools and Skills Available 
  1. Data Cleaning /Outlier Treatment/Missing Value Imputation
  2. Statistical -(Technique based approach) Error Minimization, Model Validation, Confidence Levels
  3. Programming-(Tool based approach) Analytics Platform Coding (Output, Display,Graphs)
  • Business Solution PhasePut it all together in a word document, presentation and/or spreadsheet
  1. Finalized- Forecasts  , Models and Data Strategies
  2. Improvements  in existing processes
  3.  Control and Monitoring of Analytical Results post Implementation
  4. Legal and Compliance  guidelines to execution
  5. (Internal or External) Client Satisfaction and Expectation Management
  6. Audience Feedback based on presenting final deliverable to broader audience

Interview Zach Goldberg, Google Prediction API

Here is an interview with Zach Goldberg, who is the product manager of Google Prediction API, the next generation machine learning analytics-as-an-api service state of the art cloud computing model building browser app.
Ajay- Describe your journey in science and technology from high school to your current job at Google.

Zach- First, thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview Ajay!  My personal journey started in college where I worked at a startup named Invite Media.   From there I transferred to the Associate Product Manager (APM) program at Google.  The APM program is a two year rotational program.  I did my first year working in display advertising.  After that I rotated to work on the Prediction API.

Ajay- How does the Google Prediction API help an average business analytics customer who is already using enterprise software , servers to generate his business forecasts. How does Google Prediction API fit in or complement other APIs in the Google API suite.

Zach- The Google Prediction API is a cloud based machine learning API.  We offer the ability for anybody to sign up and within a few minutes have their data uploaded to the cloud, a model built and an API to make predictions from anywhere. Traditionally the task of implementing predictive analytics inside an application required a fair amount of domain knowledge; you had to know a fair bit about machine learning to make it work.  With the Google Prediction API you only need to know how to use an online REST API to get started.

You can learn more about how we help businesses by watching our video and going to our project website.

Ajay-  What are the additional use cases of Google Prediction API that you think traditional enterprise software in business analytics ignore, or are not so strong on.  What use cases would you suggest NOT using Google Prediction API for an enterprise.

Zach- We are living in a world that is changing rapidly thanks to technology.  Storing, accessing, and managing information is much easier and more affordable than it was even a few years ago.  That creates exciting opportunities for companies, and we hope the Prediction API will help them derive value from their data.

The Prediction API focuses on providing predictive solutions to two types of problems: regression and classification. Businesses facing problems where there is sufficient data to describe an underlying pattern in either of these two areas can expect to derive value from using the Prediction API.

Ajay- What are your separate incentives to teach about Google APIs  to academic or researchers in universities globally.

Zach- I’d refer you to our university relations page

Google thrives on academic curiosity. While we do significant in-house research and engineering, we also maintain strong relations with leading academic institutions world-wide pursuing research in areas of common interest. As part of our mission to build the most advanced and usable methods for information access, we support university research, technological innovation and the teaching and learning experience through a variety of programs.

Ajay- What is the biggest challenge you face while communicating about Google Prediction API to traditional users of enterprise software.

Zach- Businesses often expect that implementing predictive analytics is going to be very expensive and require a lot of resources.  Many have already begun investing heavily in this area.  Quite often we’re faced with surprise, and even skepticism, when they see the simplicity of the Google Prediction API.  We work really hard to provide a very powerful solution and take care of the complexity of building high quality models behind the scenes so businesses can focus more on building their business and less on machine learning.

 

 

Moving data between Windows and Ubuntu VMWare partition

I use Windows 7 on my laptop (it came pre-installed) and Ubuntu using the VMWare Player. What are the advantages of using VM Player instead of creating a dual-boot system? Well I can quickly shift from Ubuntu to Windows and bakc again without restarting my computer everytime. Using this approach allows me to utilize software that run only on Windows and run software like Rattle, the R data mining GUI, that are much easier installed on Linux.

However if your statistical software is on your Virtual Disk , and your data is on your Windows disk, you need a way to move data from Windows to Ubuntu.

The solution to this as per Ubuntu forums is –http://communities.vmware.com/thread/55242

Open My Computer, browse to the folder you want to share.  Right-click on the folder, select Properties.  Sharing tab.  Select the radio button to “Share this Folder”.  Change the default generated name if you wish; add a description if you wish.  Click the Permissions button to modify the security settings of what users can read/write to the share.

On the Linux side, it depends on the distro, the shell, and the window manager.

Well Ubuntu makes it really easy to configure the Linux steps to move data within Windows and Linux partitions.

 

NEW UPDATE-

VMmare makes it easy to share between your Windows (host) and Linux (guest) OS

 

Step 1

and step 2

Do this

 

and

Start the Wizard

when you finish the wizard and share a drive or folder- hey where do I see my shared ones-

 

see this folder in Linux- /mnt/hgfs (bingo!)

Hacker HW – Make this folder //mnt/hgfs a shortcut in Places your Ubuntu startup

Hacker Hw 2-

Upload using an anon email your VM dark data to Ubuntu one

Delete VM

Purge using software XX

Reinstall VM and bring back backup

 

Note time to do this

 

 

 

-General Sharing in Windows

 

 

Just open the Network tab in Ubuntu- see screenshots below-

Windows will now ask your Ubuntu user for login-

Once Logged in Windows from within Ubuntu Vmware, this is what happens

You see a tab called “users on “windows username”- pc appear on your Ubuntu Desktop  (see top right of the screenshot)

If you double click it- you see your windows path

You can now just click and drag data between your windows and linux partitions , just the way you do it in Windows .

So based on this- if you want to build  decision trees, artifical neural networks, regression models, and even time series models for zero capital expenditure- you can use both Ubuntu/R without compromising on your IT policy of Windows only in your organization (there is a shortage of Ubuntu trained IT administrators in the enterprise world)

Revised Installation Procedure for utilizing both Ubuntu /R/Rattle data mining on your Windows PC.

Using VMWare to build a free data mining system in R, as well as isolate your analytics system (thus using both Linux and Windows without overburdening your machine)

First Time

  1. http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_player/4_0Download and Install
  2. http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/downloadDownload Only
  3. Create New Virtual Image in VM Ware Player
  4. Applications—–Terminal——sudo apt get-install R (to download and install)
  5.                                          sudo R (to open R)
  6. Once R is opened type this  —-install.packages(rattle)—– This will install rattle
  7. library(rattle) will load Rattle—–
  8. rattle() will open the GUI—-
Getting Data from Host to Guest VM
Next Time
  1. Go to VM Player
  2. Open the VM
  3. sudo R in terminal to bring up R
  4. library(rattle) within R
  5. rattle()
At this point even if you dont know any Linux and dont know any R, you can create data mining models using the Rattle GUI (and time series model using E pack in the R Commander GUI) – What can Rattle do in data mining? See this slideshow-http://www.decisionstats.com/data-mining-with-r-gui-rattle-rstats/
If Google Docs is banned as per your enterprise organizational IT policy of having Windows Explorer only- well you can see these screenshots http://rattle.togaware.com/rattle-screenshots.html

Google Cloud SQL

Another xing bang API from the boyz in Mountain View. (entry by invite only) But it is free and you can test your stuff on a MySQL db =10 GB

Database as a service ? (Maybe)— while Amazon was building fires (and Fire)

—————————————————————–

https://code.google.com/apis/sql/index.html

What is Google Cloud SQL?

Google Cloud SQL is a web service that provides a highly available, fully-managed, hosted SQL storage solution for your App Engine applications.

What are the benefits of using Google Cloud SQL?

You can access a familiar, highly available SQL database from your App Engine applications, without having to worry about provisioning, management, and integration with other Google services.

How much does Google Cloud SQL cost?

We will not be billing for this service in 2011. We will give you at least 30 days’ advance notice before we begin billing in the future. Other services such as Google App Engine, Google Cloud Storage etc. that you use with Google Cloud SQL may have their own payment terms, and you need to pay for them. Please consult their documentation for details.

Currently you are limited to the three instance sizes. What if I need to store more data or need better performance?

In the Limited Preview period, we only have three sizes available. If you have specific needs, we would like to hear from you on our google-cloud-sqldiscussion board.

When is Google Cloud SQL be out of Limited Preview?

We are working hard to make the service generally available.We don’t have a firm date that we can announce right now.

Do you support all the features of MySQL?

In general, Google Cloud SQL supports all the features of MySQL. The following are lists of all the unsupported features and notable differences that Google Cloud SQL has from MySQL.

Unsupported Features:

  • User defined functions
  • MySql replication

Unsupported MySQL statements:

  • LOAD DATA INFILE
  • SELECT ... INTO OUTFILE
  • SELECT ... INTO DUMPFILE
  • INSTALL PLUGIN .. SONAME ...
  • UNINSTALL PLUGIN
  • CREATE FUNCTION ... SONAME ...

Unsupported SQL Functions:

  • LOAD_FILE()

Notable Differences:

  • If you want to import databases with binary data into your Google Cloud SQL instance, you must use the --hex-blob option with mysqldump.Although this is not a required flag when you are using a local MySQL server instance and the MySQL command line, it is required if you want to import any databases with binary data into your Google Cloud SQL instance. For more information, see Importing Data.
How large a database can I use with Google Cloud SQL?
Currently, in this limited preview period, your database instance must be no larger than 10GB.
How can I be notified when there are any changes to Google Cloud SQL?
You can sign up for the sql-announcements forum where we post announcements and news about the Google Cloud SQL.
How can I cancel my Google Cloud SQL account?
To remove all data from your Google Cloud SQL account and disable the service:

  1. Delete all your data. You can remove your tables, databases, and indexes using the drop command. For more information, see SQL DROP statement.
  2. Deactivate the Google Cloud SQL by visiting the Services pane and clicking the On button next to Google Cloud SQL. The button changes from Onto Off.
How do I report a bug, request a feature, or ask a question?
You can report bugs and request a feature on our project page.You can ask a question in our discussion forum.

Getting Started

Can I use languages other than Java or Python?
Only Java and Python are supported for Google Cloud SQL.
Can I use Google Cloud SQL outside of Google App Engine?
The Limited Preview is primarily focused on giving Google App Engine customers the ability to use a familiar relational database environment. Currently, you cannot access Google Cloud SQL from outside Google App Engine.
What database engine are we using in the Google Cloud SQL?
MySql Version 5.1.59
Do I need to install a local version of MySQL to use the Development Server?
Yes.

Managing Your Instances

Do I need to use the Google APIs Console to use Google Cloud SQL?
Yes. For basic tasks like granting access control to applications, creating instances, and deleting instances, you need to use the Google APIs Console.
Can I import or export specific databases?
No, currently it is not possible to export specific databases. You can only export your entire instance.
Do I need a Google Cloud Storage account to import or export my instances?
Yes, you need to sign up for a Google Cloud Storage account or have access to a Google Cloud Storage account to import or export your instances. For more information, see Importing and Exporting Data.
If I delete my instance, can I reuse the instance name?
Yes, but not right away. The instance name is reserved for up to two months before it can be reused.

Tools & Resources

Can I use Django with Google Cloud SQL?
No, currently Google Cloud SQL is not compatible with Django.
What is the best tool to use for interacting with my instance?
There are a variety of tools available for Google Cloud SQL. For executing simple statements, you can use the SQL prompt. For executing more complicated tasks, you might want to use the command line tool. If you want to use a tool with a graphical interface, the SQuirrel SQL Client provides an interface you can use to interact with your instance.

Common Technical Questions

Should I use InnoDB for my tables?
Yes. InnoDB is the default storage engine in MySQL 5.5 and is also the recommended storage engine for Google Cloud SQL. If you do not need any features that require MyISAM, you should use InnoDB. You can convert your existing tables using the following SQL command, replacing tablename with the name of the table to convert:

ALTER tablename ENGINE = InnoDB;

If you have a mysqldump file where all your tables are in MyISAM format, you can convert them by piping the file through a sed script:

mysqldump --databases database_name [-u username -p  password] --hex-blob database_name | sed 's/ENGINE=MyISAM/ENGINE=InnoDB/g' > database_file.sql

Warning: You should not do this if your mysqldump file contains the mysql schema. Those files must remain in MyISAM.

Are there any size or QPS limits?
Yes, the following limits apply to Google Cloud SQL:

Resource Limits from External Requests Limits from Google App Engine
Queries Per Second (QPS) 5 QPS No limit
Maximum Request Size 16 MB
Maximum Response Size 16 MB

Google App Engine Limits

Google App Engine applications are also subject to additional Google App Engine quotas and limits. Requests from Google App Engine applications to Google Cloud SQL are subject to the following time limits:

  • All database requests must finish within the HTTP request timer, around 60 seconds.
  • Offline requests like cron tasks have a time limit of 10 minutes.
  • Backend requests to Google Cloud SQL have a time limit of 10 minutes.

App Engine-specific quotas and access limits are discussed on the Google App Engine Quotas page.

Should I use Google Cloud SQL with my non-High Replication App Engine application?
We recommend that you use Google Cloud SQL with High Replication App Engine applications. While you can use use Google Cloud SQL with applications that do not use high replication, doing so might impact performance.
Source-
https://code.google.com/apis/sql/faq.html#supportmysqlfeatures