Interview Michal Kosinski , Concerto Web Based App using #Rstats

Here is an interview with Michal Kosinski , leader of the team that has created Concerto – a web based application using R. What is Concerto? As per http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/page/300/concerto-testing-platform.htm

Concerto is a web based, adaptive testing platform for creating and running rich, dynamic tests. It combines the flexibility of HTML presentation with the computing power of the R language, and the safety and performance of the MySQL database. It’s totally free for commercial and academic use, and it’s open source

Ajay-  Describe your career in science from high school to this point. What are the various stats platforms you have trained on- and what do you think about their comparative advantages and disadvantages?  

Michal- I started with maths, but quickly realized that I prefer social sciences – thus after one year, I switched to a psychology major and obtained my MSc in Social Psychology with a specialization in Consumer Behaviour. At that time I was mostly using SPSS – as it was the only statistical package that was taught to students in my department. Also, it was not too bad for small samples and the rather basic analyses I was performing at that time.

 

My more recent research performed during my Mphil course in Psychometrics at Cambridge University followed by my current PhD project in social networks and research work at Microsoft Research, requires significantly more powerful tools. Initially, I tried to squeeze as much as possible from SPSS/PASW by mastering the syntax language. SPSS was all I knew, though I reached its limits pretty quickly and was forced to switch to R. It was a pretty dreary experience at the start, switching from an unwieldy but familiar environment into an unwelcoming command line interface, but I’ve quickly realized how empowering and convenient this tool was.

 

I believe that a course in R should be obligatory for all students that are likely to come close to any data analysis in their careers. It is really empowering – once you got the basics you have the potential to use virtually any method there is, and automate most tasks related to analysing and processing data. It is also free and open-source – so you can use it wherever you work. Finally, it enables you to quickly and seamlessly migrate to other powerful environments such as Matlab, C, or Python.

Ajay- What was the motivation behind building Concerto?

Michal- We deal with a lot of online projects at the Psychometrics Centre – one of them attracted more than 7 million unique participants. We needed a powerful tool that would allow researchers and practitioners to conveniently build and deliver online tests.

Also, our relationships with the website designers and software engineers that worked on developing our tests were rather difficult. We had trouble successfully explaining our needs, each little change was implemented with a delay and at significant cost. Not to mention the difficulties with embedding some more advanced methods (such as adaptive testing) in our tests.

So we created a tool allowing us, psychometricians, to easily develop psychometric tests from scratch an publish them online. And all this without having to hire software developers.

Ajay -Why did you choose R as the background for Concerto? What other languages and platforms did you consider. Apart from Concerto, how else do you utilize R in your center, department and University?

Michal- R was a natural choice as it is open-source, free, and nicely integrates with a server environment. Also, we believe that it is becoming a universal statistical and data processing language in science. We put increasing emphasis on teaching R to our students and we hope that it will replace SPSS/PASW as a default statistical tool for social scientists.

Ajay -What all can Concerto do besides a computer adaptive test?

Michal- We did not plan it initially, but Concerto turned out to be extremely flexible. In a nutshell, it is a web interface to R engine with a built-in MySQL database and easy-to-use developer panel. It can be installed on both Windows and Unix systems and used over the network or locally.

Effectively, it can be used to build any kind of web application that requires a powerful and quickly deployable statistical engine. For instance, I envision an easy to use website (that could look a bit like SPSS) allowing students to analyse their data using a web browser alone (learning the underlying R code simultaneously). Also, the authors of R libraries (or anyone else) could use Concerto to build user-friendly web interfaces to their methods.

Finally, Concerto can be conveniently used to build simple non-adaptive tests and questionnaires. It might seem to be slightly less intuitive at first than popular questionnaire services (such us my favourite Survey Monkey), but has virtually unlimited flexibility when it comes to item format, test flow, feedback options, etc. Also, it’s free.

Ajay- How do you see the cloud computing paradigm growing? Do you think browser based computation is here to stay?

Michal – I believe that cloud infrastructure is the future. Dynamically sharing computational and network resources between online service providers has a great competitive advantage over traditional strategies to deal with network infrastructure. I am sure the security concerns will be resolved soon, finishing the transformation of the network infrastructure as we know it. On the other hand, however, I do not see a reason why client-side (or browser) processing of the information should cease to exist – I rather think that the border between the cloud and personal or local computer will continually dissolve.

About

Michal Kosinski is Director of Operations for The Psychometrics Centre and Leader of the e-Psychometrics Unit. He is also a research advisor to the Online Services and Advertising group at the Microsoft Research Cambridge, and a visiting lecturer at the Department of Mathematics in the University of Namur, Belgium. You can read more about him at http://www.michalkosinski.com/

You can read more about Concerto at http://code.google.com/p/concerto-platform/ and http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/page/300/concerto-testing-platform.htm

Does the Internet need its own version of credit bureaus

Data Miners love data. The more data they have the better model they can build. Consumers do not love data so much and find sharing data generally a cumbersome task. They need to be incentivize for filling out survey forms , and for signing to loyalty programs. Lawyers, and privacy advocates love to use examples of improper data collection and usage as the harbinger of an ominous scenario. George Orwell’s 1984 never “mentioned” anything about Big Brother trying to sell you one more loan, credit card or product.

Data generated by customers is now growing without their needing to fill out forms and surveys. This data is about their preferences , tastes and choices and is growing in size and depth because it is generated from social media channels on the Internet.It is this data that can be and is captured by social media analytics.

Mobile data is also growing, including usage of location based applications and usage of Internet from the mobile phone is leading to further increases in data about consumers.Increasingly , location based applications help to provide a much more relevant context to the data generated. Just mobile data is expected to grow to 15 exabytes by 2015.

People want to have more and more conversations online publicly , share pictures , activity and interact with a large number of people whom  they have never met. But resent that information being used or abused without their knowledge.

Also the Internet is increasingly being consolidated into a few players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google  and Facebook, who are unable to agree on agreements to share that data between themselves. Interestingly you can use Yahoo as a data middleman between Google and Facebook.

At the same time, more and more purchases are being done online by customers and Internet advertising has grown much above the rate of growth of other mediums of communication.
Internet retail sales have the advantage that better demand predictability can lead to lower inventories as retailers need not stock up displays to look good. An Amazon warehouse need not keep material to simply stock up it shelves like a K-Mart does.

Our Hypothesis – An Analogy with how Financial Data Marketing is managed offline

  1. Financial information regarding spending and saving is much more sensitive yet the presence of credit bureaus alleviates these concerns.
  2. Credit bureaus collect information from all sources, aggregate and anonymize the individual components accordingly.They use SSN as a unique identifier.
  3. The Internet has a unique number too , called the Internet Protocol Address (I.P) 
  4. Should there be a unique identifier like Internet Security Number for the Internet to ensure adequate balance between the need for privacy as well as the need for appropriate targeting? 

After all, no one complains about privacy intrusions if their credit bureau data is aggregated , rolled up, and anonymized and turned into a propensity model for sending them direct mailers.

Advertising using Social Media and Internet

https://www.facebook.com/about/ads/#stories

1. A business creates an ad
Let’s say a gym opens in your neighborhood. The owner creates an ad to get people to come in for a free workout.
2. Facebook gets paid to deliver the ad
The owner sends the ad to Facebook and describes who should see it: people who live nearby and like running.
The right people see the ad
3. Facebook only shows you the ad if you live in town and like to run. That’s how advertisers reach you without knowing who you are.

Adding in credit bureau data and legislative regulation for anonymizing  and handling privacy data can expand the internet selling market, which is much more efficient from a supply chain perspective than the offline display and shop models.

Privacy Regulations on Marketing using Internet data
Should laws on opt out and do not mail, do not call, lists be extended to do not show ads , do not collect information on social media. In the offline world, you can choose to be part of direct marketing or opt out of direct marketing by enrolling yourself in various do not solicit lists. On the internet the only option from advertisements is to use the Adblock plugin if you are Google Chrome or Firefox browser user. Even Facebook gives you many more ads than you need to see.

One reason for so many ads on the Internet is lack of central anonymize data repositories for giving high quality data to these marketing companies.Software that can be used for social media analytics is already available off the shelf.

The growth of the Internet has helped carved out a big industry for Internet web analytics so it is a matter of time before social media analytics becomes a multi billion dollar business as well. What new developments would be unleashed in this brave new world is just a matter of time, and of course of the social media data!

Interview Markus Schmidberger ,Cloudnumbers.com

Here is an interview with Markus Schmidberger, Senior Community Manager for cloudnumbers.com. Cloudnumbers.com is the exciting new cloud startup for scientific computing. It basically enables transition to a R and other platforms in the cloud and makes it very easy and secure from the traditional desktop/server model of operation.

Ajay- Describe the startup story for setting up Cloudnumbers.com

Markus- In 2010 the company founders Erik Muttersbach (TU München), Markus Fensterer (TU München) and Moritz v. Petersdorff-Campen (WHU Vallendar) started with the development of the cloud computing environment. Continue reading “Interview Markus Schmidberger ,Cloudnumbers.com”

Using Google Fusion Tables from #rstats

But after all that- I was quite happy to see Google Fusion Tables within Google Docs. Databases as a service ? Not quite but still quite good, and lets see how it goes.

https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?dsrcid=implicit&hl=en_US&pli=1

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2011/09/fusion-tables-new-google-docs-app.html

 

But what interests me more is

http://code.google.com/apis/fusiontables/docs/developers_guide.html

The Google Fusion Tables API is a set of statements that you can use to search for and retrieve Google Fusion Tables data, insert new data, update existing data, and delete data. The API statements are sent to the Google Fusion Tables server using HTTP GET requests (for queries) and POST requests (for inserts, updates, and deletes) from a Web client application. The API is language agnostic: you can write your program in any language you prefer, as long as it provides some way to embed the API calls in HTTP requests.

The Google Fusion Tables API does not provide the mechanism for submitting the GET and POST requests. Typically, you will use an existing code library that provides such functionality; for example, the code libraries that have been developed for the Google GData API. You can also write your own code to implement GET and POST requests.

Also see http://code.google.com/apis/fusiontables/docs/sample_code.html

 

Google Fusion Tables API Sample Code

Libraries

SQL API

Language Library Public repository Samples
Python Fusion Tables Python Client Library fusion-tables-client-python/ Samples
PHP Fusion Tables PHP Client Library fusion-tables-client-php/ Samples

Featured Samples

An easy way to learn how to use an API can be to look at sample code. The table above provides links to some basic samples for each of the languages shown. This section highlights particularly interesting samples for the Fusion Tables API.

SQL API

Language Featured samples API version
cURL
  • Hello, cURLA simple example showing how to use curl to access Fusion Tables.
SQL API
Google Apps Script SQL API
Java
  • Hello, WorldA simple walkthrough that shows how the Google Fusion Tables API statements work.
  • OAuth example on fusion-tables-apiThe Google Fusion Tables team shows how OAuth authorization enables you to use the Google Fusion Tables API from a foreign web server with delegated authorization.
SQL API
Python
  • Docs List ExampleDemonstrates how to:
    • List tables
    • Set permissions on tables
    • Move a table to a folder
Docs List API
Android (Java)
  • Basic Sample ApplicationDemo application shows how to create a crowd-sourcing application that allows users to report potholes and save the data to a Fusion Table.
SQL API
JavaScript – FusionTablesLayer Using the FusionTablesLayer, you can display data on a Google Map

Also check out FusionTablesLayer Builder, which generates all the code necessary to include a Google Map with a Fusion Table Layer on your own website.

FusionTablesLayer, Google Maps API
JavaScript – Google Chart Tools Using the Google Chart Tools, you can request data from Fusion Tables to use in visualizations or to display directly in an HTML page. Note: responses are limited to 500 rows of data.

Google Chart Tools

External Resources

Google Fusion Tables is dedicated to providing code examples that illustrate typical uses, best practices, and really cool tricks. If you do something with the Google Fusion Tables API that you think would be interesting to others, please contact us at googletables-feedback@google.com about adding your code to our Examples page.

  • Shape EscapeA tool for uploading shape files to Fusion Tables.
  • GDALOGR Simple Feature Library has incorporated Fusion Tables as a supported format.
  • Arc2CloudArc2Earth has included support for upload to Fusion Tables via Arc2Cloud.
  • Java and Google App EngineODK Aggregate is an AppEngine application by the Open Data Kit team, uses Google Fusion Tables to store survey data that is collected through input forms on Android mobile phones. Notable code:
  • R packageAndrei Lopatenko has written an R interface to Fusion Tables so Fusion Tables can be used as the data store for R.
  • RubySimon Tokumine has written a Ruby gem for access to Fusion Tables from Ruby.

 

Updated-You can use Google Fusion Tables from within R from http://andrei.lopatenko.com/rstat/fusion-tables.R

 

ft.connect <- function(username, password) {
  url = "https://www.google.com/accounts/ClientLogin";
  params = list(Email = username, Passwd = password, accountType="GOOGLE", service= "fusiontables", source = "R_client_API")
 connection = postForm(uri = url, .params = params)
 if (length(grep("error", connection, ignore.case = TRUE))) {
 	stop("The wrong username or password")
 	return ("")
 }
 authn = strsplit(connection, "\nAuth=")[[c(1,2)]]
 auth = strsplit(authn, "\n")[[c(1,1)]]
 return (auth)
}

ft.disconnect <- function(connection) {
}

ft.executestatement <- function(auth, statement) {
      url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
      params = list( sql = statement)
      connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
      opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
      result = postForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
      if (length(grep("<HTML>\n<HEAD>\n<TITLE>Parse error", result, ignore.case = TRUE))) {
      	stop(paste("incorrect sql statement:", statement))
      }
      return (result)
}

ft.showtables <- function(auth) {
   url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
   params = list( sql = "SHOW TABLES")
   connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
   opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
   result = getForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
   tables = strsplit(result, "\n")
   tableid = c()
   tablename = c()
   for (i in 2:length(tables[[1]])) {
     	str = tables[[c(1,i)]]
   	    tnames = strsplit(str,",")
   	    tableid[i-1] = tnames[[c(1,1)]]
   	    tablename[i-1] = tnames[[c(1,2)]]
   	}
   	tables = data.frame( ids = tableid, names = tablename)
    return (tables)
}

ft.describetablebyid <- function(auth, tid) {
   url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
   params = list( sql = paste("DESCRIBE", tid))
   connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
   opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
   result = getForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
   columns = strsplit(result,"\n")
   colid = c()
   colname = c()
   coltype = c()
   for (i in 2:length(columns[[1]])) {
     	str = columns[[c(1,i)]]
   	    cnames = strsplit(str,",")
   	    colid[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,1)]]
   	    colname[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,2)]]
   	    coltype[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,3)]]
   	}
   	cols = data.frame(ids = colid, names = colname, types = coltype)
    return (cols)
}

ft.describetable <- function (auth, table_name) {
   table_id = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
   result = ft.describetablebyid(auth, table_id)
   return (result)
}

ft.idfromtablename <- function(auth, table_name) {
    tables = ft.showtables(auth)
	tableid = tables$ids[tables$names == table_name]
	return (tableid)
}

ft.importdata <- function(auth, table_name) {
	tableid = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
	columns = ft.describetablebyid(auth, tableid)
	column_spec = ""
	for (i in 1:length(columns)) {
		column_spec = paste(column_spec, columns[i, 2])
		if (i < length(columns)) {
			column_spec = paste(column_spec, ",", sep="")
		}
	}
	mdata = matrix(columns$names,
	              nrow = 1, ncol = length(columns),
	              dimnames(list(c("dummy"), columns$names)), byrow=TRUE)
	select = paste("SELECT", column_spec)
	select = paste(select, "FROM")
	select = paste(select, tableid)
	result = ft.executestatement(auth, select)
    numcols = length(columns)
    rows = strsplit(result, "\n")
    for (i in 3:length(rows[[1]])) {
    	row = strsplit(rows[[c(1,i)]], ",")
    	mdata = rbind(mdata, row[[1]])
   	}
   	output.frame = data.frame(mdata[2:length(mdata[,1]), 1])
   	for (i in 2:ncol(mdata)) {
   		output.frame = cbind(output.frame, mdata[2:length(mdata[,i]),i])
   	}
   	colnames(output.frame) = columns$names
    return (output.frame)
}

quote_value <- function(value, to_quote = FALSE, quote = "'") {
	 ret_value = ""
     if (to_quote) {
     	ret_value = paste(quote, paste(value, quote, sep=""), sep="")
     } else {
     	ret_value = value
     }
     return (ret_value)
}

converttostring <- function(arr, separator = ", ", column_types) {
	con_string = ""
	for (i in 1:(length(arr) - 1)) {
		value = quote_value(arr[i], column_types[i] != "number")
		con_string = paste(con_string, value)
	    con_string = paste(con_string, separator, sep="")
	}

    if (length(arr) >= 1) {
    	value = quote_value(arr[length(arr)], column_types[length(arr)] != "NUMBER")
    	con_string = paste(con_string, value)
    }
}

ft.exportdata <- function(auth, input_frame, table_name, create_table) {
	if (create_table) {
       create.table = "CREATE TABLE "
       create.table = paste(create.table, table_name)
       create.table = paste(create.table, "(")
       cnames = colnames(input_frame)
       for (columnname in cnames) {
         create.table = paste(create.table, columnname)
    	 create.table = paste(create.table, ":string", sep="")
    	   if (columnname != cnames[length(cnames)]){
    		  create.table = paste(create.table, ",", sep="")
           }
       }
      create.table = paste(create.table, ")")
      result = ft.executestatement(auth, create.table)
    }
    if (length(input_frame[,1]) > 0) {
    	tableid = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
	    columns = ft.describetablebyid(auth, tableid)
	    column_spec = ""
	    for (i in 1:length(columns$names)) {
		   column_spec = paste(column_spec, columns[i, 2])
		   if (i < length(columns$names)) {
			  column_spec = paste(column_spec, ",", sep="")
		   }
	    }
    	insert_prefix = "INSERT INTO "
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, tableid)
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, "(")
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, column_spec)
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, ") values (")
    	insert_suffix = ");"
    	insert_sql_big = ""
    	for (i in 1:length(input_frame[,1])) {
    		data = unlist(input_frame[i,])
    		values = converttostring(data, column_types  = columns$types)
    		insert_sql = paste(insert_prefix, values)
    		insert_sql = paste(insert_sql, insert_suffix) ;
    		insert_sql_big = paste(insert_sql_big, insert_sql)
    		if (i %% 500 == 0) {
    			ft.executestatement(auth, insert_sql_big)
    			insert_sql_big = ""
    		}
    	}
        ft.executestatement(auth, insert_sql_big)
    }
}

Text Analytics World in New York

There is a 15 % discount if you want to register for Text Analytics World next month-

Use Discount Code AJAYNY11

October 19-20, 2011 at The Hilton New York

http://www.textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011

Text Analytics World Topics & Case Studies - Oct 19-20 in NYC

Text Analytics World NYC (tawgo.com) is the business-focused event for text analytics professionals,
managers and commercial practitioners. This conference delivers case studies, expertise and resources
to leverage unstructured data for business impact.
Text Analytics World NYC is packed with the top predictive analytics experts, practitioners, authors and
business thought leaders, including keynote addresses from Thomas Davenport, author of Competing
on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, David Gondek from IBM Research on their Jeopardy-Winning
Watson and DeepQA, and PAW Program Chair Eric Siegel, plus special sessions from industry heavy-
weights Usama Fayyad and John Elder.
CASE STUDIES:

TAW New York City will feature over 25 sessions with case studies from leading enterprises in
automotive, educational, e-commerce, financial services, government, high technology, insurance,
retail, social media, and telecom such as: Accident Fund, Amdocs, Bundle.com, Citibank, Florida State
College, Google, Intuit, MetLife, Mitchell1, PayPal, Snap-on, Socialmediatoday, Topsy, a Fortune 500
global technology company, plus special examples from U.S. government agencies DoD, DHS, and SSA.

HOT TOPICS:

TAW New York City's agenda covers hot topics and advanced methods such as churn risk detection,
customer service and call centers, decision support, document discovery, document filtering, financial
indicators from social media, fraud detection, government applications, insurance applications,
knowledge discovery, open question-answering, parallelized text analysis, risk profiling, sentiment
analysis, social media applications, survey analysis, topic discovery, and voice of the customer and other
innovative applications that benefit organizations in new and creative ways.

WORKSHOPS: TAW also features a full-day, hands-on text analytics workshop, plus several other pre-
and post-conference workshops in analytics that complement the core conference program. For more
info: www.tawgo.com/newyork/2011/analytics-workshops
For more information: tawgo.com
Download the conference preview:
Conference Preview for TAW New York, October 19-20 2011
View the agenda at-a-glance: textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011/agenda Register by September 2nd for Early Bird Rates (save up to $200): textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011/registration If you'd like our informative event updates, sign up at: http://www.textanalyticsworld.com/subscription.php To sign up for TAW group on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/e/gis/3869759 For inquiries e-mail regsupport@risingmedia.com or call (717) 798-3495. OTHER ANALYTICS EVENTS: Predictive Analytics World for Government: Sept 12-13 in DC – www.pawgov.com Predictive Analytics World New York City: Oct 16-21 – www.pawcon.com/nyc Text Analytics World New York City: Oct 19-20 – www.tawgo.com/nyc Predictive Analytics World London: Nov 30-Dec 1 – www.pawcon.com/london Predictive Analytics World San Francisco: March 4-10, 2012 – www.pawcon.com/sanfrancisco Predictive Analytics World Videos: Available on-demand – www.pawcon.com/video
Also has two sessions on R

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Half-day Workshop
Room: Madison

R Bootcamp
Click here for the detailed workshop description

  • Workshop starts at 1:00pm
  • Afternoon Coffee Break at 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • End of the Workshop: 5:00pm

Instructor: Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer

Top of this page ] [ Agenda overview ]

Monday, October 17, 2011


Full-day Workshop
Room: Madison

R for Predictive Modeling: A Hands-On Introduction
Click here for the detailed workshop description

  • Workshop starts at 9:00am
  • Morning Coffee Break at 10:30am – 11:00am
  • Lunch provided at 12:30 – 1:15pm
  • Afternoon Coffee Break at 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • End of the Workshop: 4:30pm

Instructor: Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer

Interview Jaime Fitzgerald President Fitzgerald Analytics

Here is an interview with noted analytics expert Jaime Fitzgerald, of Fitzgerald Analytics.

Ajay-Describe your career journey from being a Harvard economist to being a text analytics thought leader.

 Jaime- I was attracted to economics because of the logic, the structured and systematic approach to understanding the world and to solving problems. In retrospect, this is the same passion for logic in problem solving that drives my business today.

About 15 years ago, I began working in consulting and initially took a traditional career path. I worked for well-known strategy consulting firms including First Manhattan Consulting Group, Novantas LLC, Braun Consulting, and for the former Japan-focused division of Deloitte Consulting, which had spun off as an independent entity. I was the only person in their New York City office for whom Japanese was not the first language.

While I enjoyed traditional consulting, I was especially passionate about the role of data, analytics, and process improvement. In traditional strategy consulting, these are important factors, but I had a vision for a “next generation” approach to strategy consulting that would be more transparent, more robust, and more focused on the role that information, analysis, and process plays in improving business results. I often explain that while my firm is “not your father’s consulting model,” we have incorporated key best practices from traditional consulting, and combined them with an approach that is more data-centric, technology-centric, and process-centric.

At the most fundamental level, I was compelled to found Fitzgerald Analytics more than six years ago by my passion for the role information plays in improving results, and ultimately improving lives. In my vision, data is an asset waiting to be transformed into results, including profit as well as other results that matter deeply to people. For example,one of the most fulfilling aspects of our work at Fitzgerald Analytics is our support of non-profits and social entrepreneurs, who we help increase their scale and their success in achieving their goals.

Ajay- How would you describe analytics as a career option to future students. What do you think are the most essential qualities an analytics career requires.

Jaime- My belief is that analytics will be a major driver of job-growth and career growth for decades. We are just beginning to unlock the full potential of analytics, and already the demand for analytic talent far exceeds the supply.

To succeed in analytics, the most important quality is logic. Many people believe that math or statistical skills are the most important quality, but in my experience, the most essential trait is what I call “ThoughtStyle” — critical thinking, logic, an ability to break down a problem into components, into sub-parts.

Ajay -What are your favorite techniques and methodologies in text analytics. How do you see social media and Big Data analytics as components of text analytics

 Jaime-We do a lot of work for our clients measuring Customer Experience, by which I mean the experience customers have when interacting with our clients. For example, we helped a major brokerage firm to measure 12 key “Moments that Matter,” including the operational aspects of customer service, customer satisfaction and sentiment, and ultimately customer behavior. Clients care about this a lot, because customer experience drives customer loyalty, which in turn drives customer behavior, customer loyalty, and customer profitability.

Text analytics plays a key role in these projects because much of our data on customer sentiment comes via unstructured text data. For example, we have access to call center transcripts and notes, to survey responses, and to social media comments.

We use a variety of methods, some of which I’m not in a position to describe in great detail. But at a high level, I would say that our favorite text analytics methodologies are “hybrid solutions” which use a two-step process to answer key questions for clients:

Step 1: convert unstructured data into key categorical variables (for example, using contextual analysis to flag users who are critical vs. neutral vs. advocates)

Step 2: linking sentiment categories to customer behavior and profitability (for example, linking customer advocacy and loyalty with customer profits as well as referral volume, to define the ROI that clients accrue for customer satisfaction improvements)

Ajay- Describe your consulting company- Fitzgerald Analytics and some of the work that you have been engaged in.

 Jaime- Our mission is to “illuminate reality” using data and to convert Data to Dollars for our clients. We have a track record of doing this well, with concrete and measurable results in the millions of dollars. As a result, 100% of our clients have engaged us for more than one project: a 100% client loyalty rate.

Our specialties–and most frequent projects–include customer profitability management projects, customer segmentation, customer experience management, balanced scorecards, and predictive analytics. We are often engaged to address high-stakes analytic questions, including issues that help to set long-term strategy. In other cases, clients hire us to help them build their internal capabilities. We have helped build several brand new analytic teams for clients, which continue to generate millions of dollars of profits with their fact-based recommendations.

Our methodology is based on Steven Covey’s principle: “begin with the end in mind,” the concept of starting with the client’s goal and working backwards from there. I often explain that our methods are what you would have gotten if Steven Covey had been a data analyst…we are applying his principles to the world of data analytics.

Ajay- Analytics requires more and more data while privacy requires the least possible data. What do you think are the guidelines that need to be built in sharing internet browsing and user activity data and do we need regulations just like we do for sharing financial data.

 Jaime- Great question. This is an essential challenge of the big data era. My perspective is that firms who depend on user data for their analysis need to take responsibility for protecting privacy by using data management best practices. Best practices to adequately “mask” or remove private data exist…the problem is that these best practices are often not applied. For example, Facebook’s practice of sharing unique user IDs with third-party application companies has generated a lot of criticism, and could have been avoided by applying data management best practices which are well known among the data management community.

If I were able to influence public policy, my recommendation would be to adopt a core set of simple but powerful data management standards that would protect consumers from perhaps 95% of the privacy risks they face today. The number one standard would be to prohibit sharing of static, personally identifiable user IDs between companies in a manner that creates “privacy risk.” Companies can track unique customers without using a static ID…they need to step up and do that.

Ajay- What are your favorite text analytics software that you like to work with.

 Jaime- Because much of our work in deeply embedded into client operations and systems, we often use the software our clients already prefer. We avoid recommending specific vendors unless our client requests it. In tandem with our clients and alliance partners, we have particular respect for Autonomy, Open Text, Clarabridge, and Attensity.

Biography-

http://www.fitzgerald-analytics.com/jaime_fitzgerald.html

The Founder and President of Fitzgerald Analytics, Jaime has developed a distinctively quantitative, fact-based, and transparent approach to solving high stakes problems and improving results.  His approach enables translation of Data to Dollars™ using methodologies clients can repeat again and again.  He is equally passionate about the “human side of the equation,” and is known for his ability to link the human and the quantitative, both of which are needed to achieve optimal results.

Experience: During more than 15 years serving clients as a management strategy consultant, Jaime has focused on customer experience and loyalty, customer profitability, technology strategy, information management, and business process improvement.  Jaime has advised market-leading banks, retailers, manufacturers, media companies, and non-profit organizations in the United States, Canada, and Singapore, combining strategic analysis with hands-on implementation of technology and operations enhancements.

Career History: Jaime began his career at First Manhattan Consulting Group, specialists in financial services, and was later a Co-Founder at Novantas, the strategy consultancy based in New York City.  Jaime was also a Manager for Braun Consulting, now part of Fair Isaac Corporation, and for Japan-based Abeam Consulting, now part of NEC.

Background: Jaime is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in Economics.  He is passionate and supportive of innovative non-profit organizations, their effectiveness, and the benefits they bring to our society.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements:   Jaime is a frequent speaker on analytics, information management strategy, and data-driven profit improvement.  He recently gave keynote presentations on Analytics in Financial Services for The Data Warehousing Institute, the New York Technology Council, and the Oracle Financial Services Industry User Group. A list of Jaime’s most interesting presentations on analyticscan be found here.

He will be presenting a client case study this fall at Text Analytics World re:   “New Insights from ‘Big Legacy Data’: The Role of Text Analytics” 

Connecting with Jaime:  Jaime can be found at Linkedin,  and Twitter.  He edits the Fitzgerald Analytics Blog.