Imperatives for the new CIO cio for efficiency and change

Imperatives for the new CIO
How to manage data and apply analytics
for efficiency and change
High-performance computing • Operational insights • Sustainable growth • Business and IT alignment • Doing more with less
Kelly LeVoyer
[email protected]
Managing Editor
Alison Bolen
[email protected]
Copy Editors
Amy Dyson
Trey Whittenton
Chris Hoerter
Editorial Contributors
Anne-Lindsay Beall
Lori Bieda
Rockwell C. Bonecutter
Keith Collins
Tony Fisher
Russell Gardner
Barry Gay
Suzanne Gordon
Dale R. Hersch
Anne Milley
Kate Morton
Stephen Nunn
Cathy Traugot
Patrick Van Deven
Ed Walker
Aiman Zeid
Ashley Campbell
Ellen Brandt
Melody Fountain
Copyright © 2010 SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA. All rights reserved. Limited copies may be made for internal staff use only. Credit must be
given to the publisher. Otherwise, no part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher and copyright
owner. SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and
other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. S62016.1010
IO imperatives
Optimization and innovation
E xecutive summary
4 Managing the data asset
How to treat your data like the high-value business asset that it is
8Three CIO challenges you can solve today
Overcome your biggest issues with a framework for business analytics
Why IT can’t ignore social media
Social data is not an island but part of a larger consumer ecosystem
More government intelligence for less
Belgian public sector CIO taps into analytical creativity and
maximizes resources
Make the most of your analytical talent
Tips for establishing an analytic center of excellence
Good news for retail CIOs
Business analytics technologies are more than just a trend
How to transition IT from cost center to value center
Data integration and language translation bring efficiencies
Running IT as a business
Seven steps to aligning IT with the business
The CIO as eco-champion
Five ways IT can contribute to a company’s green agenda
Four methods for high-performance computing
How to choose the right high-performance computing method
for your business analytics scenario
Top 5 reasons why CIOs want business analytics
SAS executive explains how to bring efficiency to IT
P2|CIO imperatives: Optimization and innovation
CIO imperatives:
Optimization and innovation
By Suzanne Gordon, CIO, SAS
In a struggling economy – and even in
an unsettled period of recovery – the
words optimization and innovation form
the basis of nearly every executive’s
rallying cry around the world. The intent, or rather the goal, is to inspire
employees to streamline operations,
reduce costs and increase productivity, while laying down a solid foundation for growth in advance of better
economic times.
As the CIO of SAS, I witness every day
how these themes form the nucleus of
our IT department’s strategic plan and
guide my management team’s actions.
I view the role of CIO as being similar
to that of a ship’s head engineer, who
manages the technical operations of a
large vessel. It’s a critical organizational
role; even more so in stormy waters.
With this in mind, the alignment, efficiency and focus of my team plays an
essential role in maintaining SAS’ market
leadership, by applying high standards
of service to meet internal and external
customer expectations. I expect many of
you are in the same boat.
Today, as CIOs, we must approach
optimization and innovation from
three standpoints: people, process and
technology. In terms of people and process, we need to focus on things such as
efficiency, agility, change management
and productivity, and every employee
should be empowered to find ways of
improving and innovating each day.
Where technology is concerned, costeffectiveness, integration, consolidation,
globalization, operational insight and
virtualization will be critical to achieving
more with less and, ultimately, improving
organizational performance.
The issues we face today as CIOs are
truly global in nature. Collaboration
and sharing of best practices amongst
senior IT executives will provide
a fertile ground for achieving our
mutual goals of optimization and
innovation and it’s in this spirit that
the current CIO Insights report has
been compiled. In these pages we
address some key challenges and
opportunities for CIOs today. The
articles and case studies, gathered
from around the world, are meant to
inform, inspire and to motivate you as
IT leaders, in your ongoing efforts to
optimize and innovate – in waters both
calm and rough.
Chief Information Officer Suzanne Gordon oversees
the IT infrastructure and support services at SAS.
A past ComputerWorld Premier 100 IT leader, Gordon
has held a number of IT and consulting leadership
positions in her 30-year tenure at SAS.
[email protected]
Executive summary|P3
Executive summary
As a modern-day Renaissance leader, today’s CIO influences a more varied agenda than ever – from an organization’s IT strategy to its profitability and customer service to its impact on the environment. This CIO Insights report shares
strategies for managing data, resources and innovative technologies to enable growth, profitability and agility. Explore
high-performance computing for greater analytic performance; learn how a business analytics architecture can help
deliver on business unit demands; read best practices for building an analytics center of excellence … all while running as
a profitable – and environmentally conscious – IT organization. To share this report online, visit
Resumen ejecutivo
Como líder renacentista moderno,
el director general de información
(chief information officer, CIO) de hoy
influye en una agenda más variada
que nunca, desde la estrategia
de tecnología de la información
de una organización hasta su
rentabilidad, servicio de atención
al cliente e impacto en el medio
ambiente. El informe de opiniones
del CIO comparte estrategias
para administrar datos, recursos
y tecnologías innovadoras para
permitir el crecimiento, la rentabilidad
y agilidad. Explore una informática
de alto rendimiento para lograr
un mayor rendimiento analítico;
aprenda sobre cómo la arquitectura
analítica de un negocio puede ayudar
a cumplir con las exigencias de las
unidades comerciales; interprete
las metodologías acertadas para
construir un centro analítico de
excelencia. Logre todo esto mientras
administra una organización de
tecnología de la información rentable
y con conciencia ecológica. Para
compartir este informe por Internet,
Un peu à l’image d’un leader de la Renaissance des temps modernes, le directeur des
systèmes d’information (DSI) d’aujourd’hui voit ses responsabilités plus nombreuses et
plus variées que jamais ; de la mise en œuvre de la stratégie de systèmes d’information
d’une organisation à leur rentabilité, en passant par la gestion de son service client
ou encore son impact environnemental. Le présent rapport CIO Insights (Le point sur
le DSI) vous propose des stratégies de gestion de données, ressources et nouvelles
technologies qui vous ouvriront les portes de la croissance, de la rentabilité et de
l’adaptabilité. Découvrez ce que des performances informatiques supérieures
peuvent vous apporter en termes de performance analytique ; apprenez à tirer parti d’une
architecture d’analytique de gestion pour répondre aux besoins des divisions
opérationnelles ; consultez les meilleures pratiques pour mettre en place un véritable
centre d’excellence en matière d’analytique... le tout, en poursuivant vos activités
d’organisation de technologies de l’information à la fois rentable et écosensible. Pour
partager ce rapport en ligne, consultez le site
Die Aufgaben des heutigen CIO umfassen ein breiteres Spektrum als je zuvor – von der IT Strategie eines Unternehmens
zu seiner Profitabilität und dem Kundenservice bis hin zu seinen Auswirkungen auf die Umwelt. Dieser CIO InsightsBericht zeigt Strategien für die Verwaltung von Daten, Ressourcen und innovativen Technologien auf, die Wachstum,
Profitabilität und Flexibilität unterstützen. Entdecken Sie High Performance Computing für höhere analytische Leistung;
lernen Sie, wie eine Business-Analytics-Architektur den Anforderungen von Geschäftseinheiten gerecht werden kann;
lesen Sie über beste Vorgehensweisen zum Aufbau eines Analytik-Kompetenzzentrums... und all das, während Sie als
profitable – und umweltbewusste – IT-Organisation ihre Geschäfte führen. Um diesen Bericht online zu lesen, besuchen Sie
P4|Managing the data asset
Managing the data asset
How to treat your data like the high-value business asset that it is
By Tony Fisher, President and CEO of DataFlux
Data is now collected and saved from
every conceivable source – Internet
applications, front-office and back-office
systems, trading networks, social media
– and such complexity requires a sophisticated, deliberate process for managing
this vital information. After all, data holds
the key to sales, marketing, customer
support, production and other initiatives.
Without an accurate view of customers,
products, materials, locations and
assets, how can a company compete in
today’s marketplace?
Organizations must approach data
management in the same fashion that
they manage any process – with a
well-defined, repeatable methodology.
To accomplish this, you need a data
management lifecycle methodology
to manage, monitor and maintain
data to benefit every phase of the
business. DataFlux recommends this
six-phase process:
1. Define.
2. Discover.
3. Design.
4. Execute.
5. Evaluate.
6. Control.
Let’s look at each step in detail.
The Define phase of the data management methodology is just as important
as mapping out a journey. The decisions made at this phase will guide the
collection, organization, enhancement,
monitoring and retirement of your data
assets throughout the process. While
you don’t need all the answers at the beginning, you need a solid plan on how to
proceed – and what the ultimate success
indicators will be. Also, these success
indicators have to map to the business
problem identified earlier; the reason
for the project (cut costs, mitigate risks,
enhance revenue, etc.) provides a crucial
guide for the Define phase.
During the Define phase, an organization should first answer a series of
questions about:
• People. Who’s involved? And for what
purpose? This step outlines everyone
involved in the data management
process, including executive support, manager/director sponsorship
and business and IT involvement.
Organizations also set up steering
committees and/or stewardship
teams to facilitate collaboration on
cross-functional issues.
Managing the data asset|P5
Data can only be useful if you
understand where it is, what
it means to your organization
and how it relates to other
data in your organization.
• Road map. Where are we now?
Where do we want to go? What obstacles are in our way? Often, the first
task after selecting the right people is
to determine a path to a successful
outcome – including the definition of
a successful outcome.
• S
ource systems. What data will we
need? Where is that data coming
from? The road map tells the story of
where the project is intended to go.
This part of the Define phase will inform the team on the source systems
and which data will play a role in the
data management project.
• Business processes. Which business processes will be affected?
How will better data enhance the
way the organization operates? This
part of the Define process maps the
data management strategy to existing business processes. Better data
can ultimately streamline business
processes, as less time is spent reconciling confusing views or managing
poor-quality data.
• B
usiness rules and data definitions.
How do we define “customer?” How
do we want to optimize procurement
and spending? This phase seems
simple enough, but it can be deceptively difficult. Billing might define
“customer” as anyone that receives
an invoice, while customer support
may only want to know who the user
is. These decisions will form the basis
of business rules and data definitions
that will guide later phases.
Data can only be useful if you understand
where it is, what it means to your organization and how it relates to other data in
your organization. The Discover phase is
designed to do just that.
Every new application implementation,
data warehouse development, data migration or consolidation initiative should
start with data discovery. Additionally,
any time that new data sources enter
your organization, start with data discovery. Data discovery has several components to it, and each prepares you for
your data initiatives:
• Data exploration. This diagnostic
phase is concerned with documenting the data in your organization and
the characteristics of that data. Data
discovery arms you with information
about the accuracy, consistency and
reliability of your data.
• Data profiling and auditing. Data
profiling alerts you to data that does
not match the characteristics defined
in the metadata compiled during data
exploration. But, more importantly,
data profiling can also tell you if the
data meets the business rules and
definitions established in the Define
phase. In addition, data profiling can
help you determine the relationships
across your data sources – where you
have similar data, where data is in
conflict, where data is duplicated and
where data may be dormant.
• D
ata cataloging and business
vocabulary. You need a development
environment where data sources
can be combined and rationalized.
A place where you can group data
sources into projects to allow you to
work across your data sources and
develop a consistent environment for
managing your data. Data cataloging lays the groundwork for all data
management tasks to follow. Data
catalogs must be augmented with
business definitions and vocabularies, allowing the business user to
comfortably navigate the landscape.
After completing the first two steps of
the data management methodology, you
will be able map your strategy, identify
sources, understand the underlying formats and structures, as well as assess
the relationships and uses of data. Now
you face another challenge – taking all of
these different structures, formats, data
sources and data feeds, and creating
an environment that accommodates the
needs of your business.
P6|Managing the data asset
The Design phase requires consolidation
and coordination, all the while concentrating on three major imperatives:
1. Consistency of rules. Ultimately, an
organization needs one set of business rules that can be stored centrally
but deployed across all data sources,
applications and lines of business.
2. Consistency of the data model. The
data model is the single, definitive
source for how your data maps to
your business. Through the process
of creating a well-structured data
model, you identify the appropriate
source systems and begin to reconcile
multiple views, if required.
3. Consistency of business processes. During the Define and
Discover phases, you will identify processes that are potentially affected.
Now, the task is to provide consistency across these processes. When
creating business rules, you have to
know how to reconcile questions like
“Is this a new customer or an existing
customer?” or “Is this a customer in
good standing?” By understanding
the processes that are affected, you
can design more effective rules to
automate business processes.
Now that the business users have established how the data and rules should
be defined, it is up to the IT staff to ensure that databases and applications
adhere to the definitions. There are
many types of architectures involved
in this phase: enabling ERP and CRM
applications via proprietary interfaces,
enabling data marts and data warehouses via extraction, transformation
and loading (ETL) flows, enabling MDM
systems via service-oriented architecture (SOA)/ETL or other technologies.
The method and management of enabling the data in any of these environments is a decision that IT has to make in
order to ensure the integrity and integration into the various systems.
Naturally, this approach is highly impractical for the IT team to manage. A better
solution is to build the definitions once
and ensure that you have the ability to
collectively apply those definitions across
your organization. As one IT director put
it: “We want to build our standards and
rules once and then have the ability to
use them repeatedly and propagate to
the entire organization seamlessly.”
One potential pitfall in the Execute phase
is to duplicate the rules and standards
from the Design phase for each application or data source. When duplicating the
rules and definitions across siloed, unrelated systems, multiple, point-to-point
interfaces are inadvertently created.
These rules definitions must then be
updated, separately, each time a rule or
business initiative changes.
By repeating this process during
the execution phase, you can create
the data management rules to guide
the collection and organization of data,
test its integrity, and move to the next
phase of the process.
For each data source, each business
process and each application that is
modified to the new data definitions,
you need to:
• Understand the requirements.
• Validate that the new integration
meets the requirements.
• Deploy the interface into production.
Managing the data asset|P7
Very few organizations are static. You add
new partners that bring new data to the table.
Your business changes. Sales regions are
created or modified. You take on new initiatives
and develop new products. All of these changes
must be reflected in your data.
A healthy data life cycle requires a robust
monitoring and reporting system. The
data needs to be consistently monitored
so it remains fit-for-purpose for your
organization. Why is this so critically
important? After all, you just spent lots of
time, energy and resources to get your
systems to a point where the business
users have a consistent and validated
view of your organization. Isn’t it time to
just enjoy the success of all this effort?
Actually, the opposite is true. Very few
organizations are static – they are forever
growing and evolving. For example, you
add new partners that bring new data to
the table. Your business changes, sales
regions are created or modified, you take
on new initiatives and you develop new
products. All of these changes must be
reflected in your data, which makes the
Evaluate phase so important.
Your mantra for success at this point
needs to be: 1. Monitor; 2. Review; and
3. Optimize. Data should be monitored
and validated as it enters your organization to verify it is meeting your rules.
Those rules need to be constantly monitored to ensure they are still meeting the
needs of your business. Efforts in discovery, design and execution will allow
you to consolidate the rules and requirements into a single environment. With
the ability to centralize the required data
management rules, the changes can be
immediately propagated across the organization, without duplication of effort.
Monitoring is a joint activity between
IT and business users. IT monitors and
validates that systems are running within
their required service-level needs. Business users also benefit from the monitoring reports – constantly reviewing the
reports and validating that business
needs are being met while making changes when the business needs change.
One thing is certain in today’s information
age: A wide variety of data will continue
to quickly pour into your organization.
It is easy to see why data is a key asset.
However, it is also important to recognize when data needs to be retired. The
Control phase is about reassessing data.
If data is no longer useful to your organization, you must be able to retire the data
appropriately. This allows you to free
up resources that are being expended
maintaining the data environment.
For example, let’s look at a common data
problem facing financial services firms.
When mergers, acquisitions and divestitures occur, you need the ability to purge
or re-categorize data. You don’t want to
spend resources managing the data of a
company that no longer exists.
Lastly, it is important to promote your
successes across your organization.
When you began your life cycle, you
were solving a business problem. By the
time you have reached this phase in the
life cycle, you should have improved your
business. Communicate and evangelize
these messages to help everyone from
senior management on down recognize
that the efforts were successful and the
business is improved. This demonstrates
the business benefits of a sound data
management methodology across the
organization, and it paves the way for
support of future initiatives.
One solution for data quality, data integration
and MDM:
Data integration 101 webinar:
Tony Fisher is President and CEO of DataFlux, a
wholly owned subsidiary of SAS, which enables
companies to analyze, improve and control their
data through an integrated technology platform. He
has guided DataFlux through tremendous growth as
it became a market-leading provider of data quality
and data integration solutions.
P8|Three CIO challenges you can solve today
Three CIO challenges
you can solve today
Overcome your biggest issues with a framework for business analytics
CIOs and IT managers are under tremendous pressure to choose the right
products, services and technologies that
can transform data into a competitive
advantage – enabling strategic decisions that optimize performance. They
want to enhance operations and achieve
success by increasing data consistency,
streamlining administration and providing easy-to-use reporting tools backed
by powerful analytics. To empower the
organization now and meet future needs
in a timely fashion, CIOs and IT managers should address these three issues.
Issue 1: Support sustainable
growth while managing risk through
the innovative use of technology
and information
Change in business is inevitable –
especially with the collapse and bailout of global banking systems and the
sudden instability of stock markets.
These circumstances and more have
created a radically different context for
economic growth. While the dust set-
tles, governance, risk and compliance
will play major roles in transforming
organizations to reduce the possibility
of further collapses. Technology and
process strategies will focus on rebuilding sustainable growth levels but within
the constructs of increased regulations,
performance and risk management
coordination, and evolving expectations of corporate responsibility.
Organizations are continually searching
for innovative ways to improve performance, achieve greater top-line growth
and maintain a competitive edge.
To do so requires decision makers being able to assess the impact of market
dynamics more quickly, explore different options, learn from experimentation
and validate best approaches. SAS
can help IT organizations by providing
a flexible environment that allows the
organization to change or evolve as the
need arises, while enabling centralized
control and management of data and
information processes.
Three CIO challenges you can solve today|P9
Decision makers demand
fast answers, and it is the job
of IT to make sure information
is accessible at the right level
of detail when it is needed.
Issue 2: Provide an infrastructure
Issue 3: Derive more value
from existing technology and
information assets
More data, more users. These are the
two primary demands facing most IT
organizations. And unfortunately, many
CIOs admit they have the sense that
managing the flow of information into
and throughout the business is not being done effectively. By integrating your
organization’s technology components
(whether it’s an ERP system, call center
data, point-of-sale systems, etc.) within
your IT infrastructure, SAS can help
you create a single environment that
overcomes departmental information
silos and diverse computing platforms
to deliver integrated intelligence that can
make a difference to your organization.
Make the most of what you have, and
do more with less. Particularly in this
time of economic strife, this is a mantra
everyone hears. IT departments are no
different. Organizations expect IT to deliver more value while staying at or under
budget. At the same time, IT must mitigate the risks associated with managing
information and security of the systems.
This can be a difficult challenge when
every department and business unit is
collecting, managing and analyzing data
in silos with a heavy dependence on
spreadsheets for analysis.
to manage the growing appetite
for intelligence
SAS provides an integrated suite of software that leverages domain expertise,
best practices and state-of-the-art business analytics that enable your organization not only to understand the past and
monitor the present, but optimize opportunities for the future.
Decision makers demand fast answers,
and it is the job of IT to make sure information is accessible at the right level of
detail when it is needed. To make the
most of what you have, you must aggregate and cleanse your data, and
ensure security processes are in place.
You need a data integration environment
that is easily managed. You need the
P10|Three CIO challenges you can solve today
ability to apply analytics to gain predictive insights and push appropriate information to decision makers so they can
make the most of it, whether they want
to drill down and ask further questions or
have presentation-quality results at their
fingertips. By improving data quality and
security processes, integrating information with business processes and providing data that is easily understood at the
right level of detail, SAS helps IT executives cost-effectively achieve a strategic
framework for business analytics.
• Reporting. Role-based interfaces enable different types of users to surface
and visualize meaningful intelligence
from consistent, companywide data.
Using the platform for SAS Business
Analytics as a foundation, SAS offers
targeted business solutions that support
key areas of your business, such as customers, finance, risk and supply chain –
plus turnkey solutions for various vertical
markets, including financial services, life
sciences, health care, insurance, retail,
manufacturing and more. These solutions incorporate our domain expertise
as well as data structures and analytic
models tuned to specific business and
industry needs.
White paper: Business Analytics for the CIO:
White paper: Architecture for Business Analytics:
Data integration, analytics
and reporting
The platform for SAS Business Analytics
provides the foundation needed to solve
your top issues. It integrates individual
technology components within your
existing IT infrastructure into a single,
unified system. The result is an information flow that crosses organizational
boundaries and delivers new insights
that drive value. SAS Business Analytics extends the value of your existing
systems, while setting the stage for new
levels of intelligence. It includes the following components:
• Data integration. SAS offers prebuilt,
high-performance capabilities for
data connectivity, data quality, ETL
(extract, transform and load), data
migration, data synchronization and
data federation.
• Analytics. SAS provides an integrated environment for predictive and
descriptive modeling, forecasting,
optimization, simulation, experimental design and more.
Business analytics drives savings and revenues for
Steve Bozzo, the CIO at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, uses SAS to provide a
360-degree view of more than 30 million customers and help 15 business
units derive the information they need to grow revenues and reduce costs.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM has grown its family of gift brands to more
than 14 through a combination of internal development and strategic
acquisitions in the past nine years. This presents Chief Information Officer Steve Bozzo with a monumental task: aggregate
information across multiple platforms to provide a 360-degree view of more
than 30 million customers, help 15 separate business units derive
the information they need to grow revenues and reduce operating
costs – and do it all on a tight budget. SAS solutions cut the task
down to size, helping the CIO of the largest florist and gift shop
in the world meet his objectives.
“There has never been a SAS solution we’ve added
that hasn’t resulted in double-digit ROI,” says Bozzo.
“I would tell other CIOs that are thinking about
buying SAS: You’re going to be pleasantly
surprised. And that doesn’t happen
often for CIOs.’’
Why IT can’t ignore social media|P11
Why IT can’t ignore social media
Social data is not an island but part of a larger consumer ecosystem
By Lori C. Bieda, Marketing Executive, SAS Canada
The mention of new data sources captures the ear of IT executives. And it
should, as IT inherits the implications of
new data – from finding a home in the
corporate IT structure for the data, to
putting in place the appropriate policies
to manage it.
Consider social data, surpassing
1.2 zettabytes in size and sourced
from millions of online sites, blogs
and tweets – with applications ranging
from marketing and public relations to
customer service, market research and
human resources. With 90 percent of
executives saying social media will have
a potential impact on their corporate
brand, organizations are sifting through
the opportunities for this new medium,
according to a recent study from SAS
Canada and Leger Marketing. Why then
are less than 7 percent of IT professionals engaged?
New to the medium and daunted by
the sheer volume of data, most organizations have outsourced the collection
and management of social information
to analytics and software firms. Leaders who’ve either been appointed
heads of social media (typically digital
marketers and PR professionals), or
those who’ve stepped forward voluntarily to claim that unclaimed land,
are working with vendors to pull social
fragments and sentiment into business taxonomies, and striving to make
sense of the chatter.
Yet, data begets data. The more of it that
gets analyzed, the more opportunity the
marketer will see and the greater the tendency to combine data sources to create
a fuller picture of the business. Call center records, corporate e-mail, customer
satisfaction data – all rich data sources –
are likely siblings to social data.
For example, when the infamous
YouTube video showing a Bic pen
opening a Kryptonite Lock reached
critical mass online, I bet a flood of concerns came pouring in to Kryptonite call
centers and sites. Consumers know no
corporate boundaries. Like water running through all available cracks, they
penetrate the organization on multiple
fronts, their pathways often only evident
in post-analysis. A fuller picture in real
time allows us to properly staff call centers for escalating issues, adjust Web and
call scripts to field inquiries, and respond
to growing issues before they swell to unmanageable proportions and risk brand
damage or customer satisfaction.
Before companies launch their social
media strategies and IT inherits the
implications, it’s best if IT leaders insert
themselves into the discussion. Social
data, while indeed a new data source, is
no island. Used strategically, it is an essential part of a consumer ecosystem.
After the preliminary listening is done,
marketers will graduate to more sophisticated needs and demand connectivity to rich internal data sources. They’ll
expect there to be bridges traversing
the islands, and IT will be essential for
tapping into internal sources and ensuring accurate, timely information flow to
marketers’ desktops.
It’d be a shame, for a medium whose
very power is defined by speed, to not
build the underlying infrastructure in
a way that enables superior precision
and a speed to market that makes
competitors wince.
SAS Social Media Analytics demo:
Survey says 90 percent of Canadian
organizations use social media:
Lori Bieda is a marketing executive with 19 years of
experience helping companies leverage analytics and
client insights to drive profitable business decisions.
Formerly Vice President of Client Insights and Database
Marketing at a major bank, Bieda is now a SAS consultant helping organizations across Canada, US, Latin
America and the Caribbean improve their analytics and
marketing effectiveness.
P12|More government intelligence for less
More government intelligence for less
Belgian public sector CIO taps into analytical creativity and maximizes resources
“The integrated SAS
solution was technically
superior and promised
to be more stable,
guaranteeing integrated
security and metadata
in both the short and
the long run.”
– Frank De Saer,
CIO, Belgium’s Federal
Public Service Economy
Frank De Saer, CIO at Belgium’s Federal
Public Service Economy, which includes
the very important National Institute of
Statistics (NIS), recognizes that an effective information delivery strategy is
driven by business needs. His challenge,
as he sees it, is to increase the quality
of government information and services
while driving down its cost.
Achieving this objective means focusing on three distinct requirements: data
standardization, more focused use of IT
human resources; and, most importantly,
putting information and analytics in the
hands of the users.
The need for standardization exists for
a number of reasons that have evolved
over the years: the need to access data
from various sources, the end user’s
need for focused expert support without buck-passing, the economic benefits such as reduced maintenance fees
and the desire to ensure that analytical
reporting is based on “one version of
the truth.”
Nowhere is it more important to ensure
that analytics is based on a consistent
and accurate pool of information than
in the area of economic statistics, which
serves as a basis for planning at macro-
and microeconomic levels. “Our core
business is delivering high-quality, reliable
information to our customers: government ministers, civil servants, enterprises
and private citizens,” says De Saer.
Public Service Economy is composed of
167 business units and services covering areas as diverse as the Belgian Enterprise Register, the calculation of fuel
prices and intellectual property. These
units require 24/7 access to business
intelligence. That’s what De Saer’s team
provides, but he goes even further: He
sees the contemporary CIO’s challenge
as increasing the quality of government
information and services while driving
down its cost.
Fewer employees, falling budgets
If you could travel back in time 15 years
and see how things worked at the NIS
then, you would appreciate the pace
of change. Back then, all data had to
be manually input into the flat files on
the mainframe, and statistics were then
laboriously compiled and published in
hard copy. On the other hand, the NIS
had enough human resources to cope
with the task. Since then, headcount has
been reduced steadily. For every three
employees who retire, De Saer can recruit only one.
More government intelligence for less|P13
Budgets have likewise come under pressure. “We face a situation that is familiar
to many CIOs in both the public and
private sectors,” says De Saer. “Most
of our annual budget is spent on fixed
operational costs (OPEX). That means
funds for new projects are diminishing
every year if we do not succeed in reducing our OPEX.”
Empowering employees
and customers
At the same time, the demands of end
users at the NIS have changed dramatically. “To keep up with expectations,
we need to stay ahead of the curve,”
says De Saer.
Printed stats are no longer acceptable.
Users want information that is delivered
fit for purpose and ready to use.
“I feel we are at the forefront of a revolution in the way IT functions in the public
sector,” says De Saer. “Essentially, the
new way of working is to help employees
and customers to help themselves.”
Each government department, institution, company and individual now wants
to use information in their own particular
way. They want to apply their own filters,
and they want to be able to download
digital files with data that can be easily extracted and loaded into their own
systems. They want the data in a wide
variety of formats such as Excel, XML,
XBLR, HTML and Open Office. But they
also want the information to be stamped
with the official seal of federal government approval.
For example, the NIS publishes information about business start-ups and bankruptcies in Belgium. An end user can go
in and drill down and filter on the data,
for example, to find out detailed information about start-ups and bankruptcies
by locality in a particular sector such
as hotels, restaurants and catering. He
can then order the delivery of the same
report on a monthly basis, in the format
of his choice.
“We are delivering information that enables the federal and regional governments to understand, regulate and boost
the country’s economic performance,”
says De Saer.
For the most part, the information is
provided freely on a self-serve basis.
External customers include large direct
marketing companies, but more typically they are people working in regional
“I feel we are at the
forefront of a revolution
in the way IT functions
in the public sector.”
– Frank De Saer, CIO, Belgium’s
Federal Public Service Economy
P14|More government intelligence for less
SAS more stable
and secure
According to De Saer, the NIS attached
great importance to controlling and minimizing operational and technical risks
when choosing and deploying a platform.
“SAS was the only supplier to offer a completely end-to-end integrated system,” he
emphasizes, “including OLAP functionality, comprehensive reporting capabilities,
ETL, data integration and Web solutions.
Other suppliers offered a collection of
tools from different vendors, requiring additional interfacing efforts. The integrated
SAS solution was technically superior and
promised to be more stable, guaranteeing
integrated security and metadata in both
the short and the long run.”
branches of government who need information to support policy decision making, and managers in companies who
need to make investment decisions or
support business strategy. The problem
is that the information resides on various
IT systems, and packaging it in meaningful ways is not always straightforward.
“It’s many times easier and quicker than
in the days when we relied on manual
effort, but the more users see the possibilities, the more sophisticated their
demands,” De Saer says.
Rationalize and standardize
De Saer believes that to deliver maximum value, an Information and Communications Technology department must
focus on its core business of delivering
information. It must also rationalize and
standardize. He has reorganized the ICT
department at the Federal Public Service
Economy around three competence
centers, each using standard software:
Java for business-critical development,
Microsoft SharePoint for office and
document management, and SAS for
business intelligence. “We offered our
users an informed choice on business
intelligence. Once they had made their
choice, we standardized. SAS is the only
BI software we used.”
The NIS now has a growing body of
“power users” who not only extract data
but combine data from different sources,
slice and dice it according to their local needs and often enrich it with their
own in-house data. “We also decided
to standardize on just one tool for these
power users,” says De Saer. “That way
we could ensure quality of support from
our BI Competence Centre. The tool they
selected was SAS Enterprise Guide , a
graphical interface that exploits the power of SAS and enables users to publish
dynamic results in a Microsoft Windows
client application.
“Originally we offered less sophisticated
options. But SAS Enterprise Guide has
really unlocked the creativity of our
internal customers and is now the preferred choice for business analysts and
statisticians alike.”
From civil servant to public
services counsel
De Saer believes business intelligence
and analytics are critically important
to any organization that is trying to do
more for less. “With online business
intelligence, you can outsource a lot of
IT functions in much the same way that
banks outsourced transaction processing by outsourcing it to their customers.
So long as they have the right analytic
software, our employees and customers
can do more useful and creative things
with information than my colleagues in
ICT, for the simple reason that they know
their own requirements best.
“Unleashing their creativity has helped
transform the employees at Public
Service Economy from the traditional
image of civil servants into professional
advisors on all aspects of public services
and government.”
More government intelligence for less|P15
De Saer believes there is still some
distance to travel on this mission. “The
new philosophy is that government intelligence belongs to the public. Our future
challenge is to do even more to unlock
that asset through open services that
facilitate collaboration between government, citizen and enterprises.
“Our philosophy is also to offer full
transparency and multichannel access, putting the customer in control.
This approach accelerates innovation
while reducing the burden on IT – a win
for everyone!”
Global government transformations:
More SAS customers in the public sector:
Statistics offices around the world
More than 75 different countries use SAS in their
statistics offices for programs that range from census
analysis and government reporting to financial planning and resource planning. Continue reading to learn
about some of them.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics uses SAS to
ensure the integrity of data and statistical outputs
across many divisions. John Preston, an Assistant
Director in the Methodology Division says, “Many
of our collections have thousands of units – a unit
being an individual or business – and with such a
high number of records, SAS makes our tasks more
efficient, especially as many of the procedures we require are already pre-programmed into SAS.”
Read more:
Statistisches Bundesamt, the German Federal Statistics Office replaced older, nonportable mainframe programs with SAS products, including customized applications.
“The SAS solutions covered both our basic types of work – short-term ad hoc analyses as well
as periodic evaluation processes – better than all other products available on the market.”
Read more:
Statistics Denmark uses SAS to collect and analyze census data without knocking on
doors or asking any questions. Instead of a traditional household-based census, Denmark’s
tallies are completely register-based. “We run SAS on all of our systems and it plays a vital
role in our processes,” says Lars Thygesen, Director for User Services at Statistics Denmark.
Read more:
The US Census Bureau uses SAS to create person-level and household-level files for each US
state and to merge records so analysts can look at components of a household. Next, analysts
merge that data with geographical information so they can analyze by geographical hierarchy.
Read more:
P16|Make the most of your analytical talent
Make the most of your
analytical talent
Tips for establishing an analytic center of excellence
By Anne Milley, Senior Director of Analytic Strategy, SAS with Aiman Zeid, Senior Business Consultant at SAS
As the use of analytics in many sectors
of the economy increases, business
leaders are developing a greater appreciation for the value and power of
analyzing data and making better decisions. Likewise, the advances in many
types of analytical technologies have
encouraged organizations to make more
and better fact-based decisions, validate
assumptions and identify root causes of
business problems.
However, a large percentage of organizations are still struggling with several
aspects of using analytics, including how
and where to start, how to take the next
step and how to change their internal
culture so that analytics becomes integral to the decisions that matter most.
Analytic centers of excellence (CoEs) can
help organizations deal with these challenges. Regardless of how much or how
little analytic competency an organization may have, analytic centers of excellence provide a means to derive more
value through greater insight and better
decisions. Let’s explore the structure and
role of analytic CoEs, and the various
organizational aspects that need to be
considered to effectively deploy analytics
in an organization.
What is an analytic center
of excellence?
An analytic center of excellence is
an internal organization that specifically
focuses on promoting the use of analytics
within an organization to achieve business
objectives. It is a central point for:
• Developing and evolving the analytic
• Promoting collaboration and analytic
best practices.
• Driving growth, cost reductions
and profitability.
The center is ultimately a means to support strategy and operations through
objective analysis. This organization,
or team of experts, must include representatives with business knowledge as
well as analytical expertise. The team is
permanent with well-defined roles and
responsibilities; it is not a temporary
group that gets called on an ad hoc basis
to address a specific request requiring
analytical resources. An initial, temporary structure may be used as the first
phase to justify moving to a permanent
CoE team. The temporary structure may
include virtual teams, outsourced services
or other arrangements based on the specific requirements of each organization.
Make the most of your analytical talent|P17
Build your A-team
In data there is opportunity. However, a
gap is growing between our vast data
stores and the useful insights we can derive from them. A generation ago we got
the most out of what little data we had,
comparatively speaking. Today we’re not
always getting as much as we can from
our data. Succeeding with analytics is
both a technical and organizational challenge. What’s missing more often than not
is the person with the right combination
of skills who can translate data into intelligent and timely decisions.
It is important to point out that there are
many types of CoEs (also called competency centers or centers of expertise),
depending on the focus and scope.
Some of the focus areas for these
teams include:
It should be owned and staffed by the
organization and include representation
from business, analytical experts and IT
with well-defined focus for roles, responsibilities and processes.
• Enterprise information management, which covers all aspects of
information management across
the organization.
Collaboration with all appropriate stakeholders is essential – especially the IT
and enterprise data warehouse (EDW)
teams – to influence the structure of the
current EDW environment in support of
analytics and analytic best practices.
• Data integration.
• Information delivery (reporting and
performance management).
• Analytics.
• Specific technologies, such as SAS
centers of excellence or ERP types
of CoEs.
• Specific business functions, such as
customer insight or finance CoEs.
Analytic center of excellence tasks
A well-implemented analytic CoE should
be a permanent, formal organizational
structure (team) with support and sponsorship from executive-level managers.
The team should be committed to providing and managing robust analytical
development environments, including
data marts, and to providing and managing processes to push results and
decision-making logic to production/
operational environments.
It is important to structure the data and
processes to facilitate the application
of analytics, provide the appropriate
level of governance (for repeatability,
auditability, knowledge management,
etc.) and enable closed-loop learning for
continuous improvement.
The Institute for Advanced Analytics at
North Carolina State University was created in 2007 with a focused mission to
educate a new kind of analytics-savvy
professional. We listened closely to employers and then custom-built an entirely
new learning experience to address their
needs. The result is the Master of Science in analytics (MSA), an innovative
10-month professional degree that combines technical knowledge of quantitative methods with teamwork and communication skills, as well as hands-on
experience using industry-leading tools
with real data from sponsoring companies. The MSA curriculum gives students
the contextual understanding they need
to apply analytics to real-world business problems.
By Michael Rappa, Director, Institute
for Advanced Analytics
Learn more:
P18|Make the most of your analytical talent
Four dimensions of your
analytic infrastructure
The application and effective use of
analytics requires more than just technology. In practice, technology is the
easy part. The other challenging components are related to many aspects of
the organization itself. To achieve the
greatest degree of success with analytics, organizations have to consider the
following four critical components or
dimensions of what ultimately comprises the analytics infrastructure:
• Human capital and skills.
• Internal information and
knowledge processes.
• Technology infrastructure.
• Organizational culture.
The analytic CoE team should be
responsible for the following:
• Supporting and promoting the
effective use of analytics within
the organization.
• Developing and promoting analytical
best practices to facilitate the identification of analytical requirements (including new data sources and metrics
to measure their efforts/contributions).
• Applying analytics to business problems, and more importantly, interpreting and distributing results.
• Educating the organization on the
importance of data quality.
• Fostering greater analytic competency to support and guide more
fact-based and timely decisions in
the pursuit of achieving organizational
priorities and objectives.
• Using available analytical skills and
resources to optimize their contributions to high-priority projects
and problems.
• Gradually changing the culture of the
organization to always apply critical
thinking and to demand the validation of business assumptions and
strategies. This includes fostering a
learning culture – one that encourages experimentation and provides
permission to fail.
• Continuously developing
analytical talent.
Currently, a large percentage of analytic
centers of excellence can be described
as specialized, shared-service organizations. These organizations receive requests from the business community to
apply analytics to solve problems. There
is no question that these types of structures provide value to the organization,
but they may not be able to change the
internal culture without having a much
closer connection and integration with
the various business units where better
decisions could be enabled.
When used in an ad hoc way and without
the right level of executive sponsorship,
these shared-service organizations are
limited in their ability to have more lasting
effects on the way decisions are made
and the quality of those decisions.
Making your analytic center of
excellence strategic and effective
The best implementations of analytic
CoEs have these traits:
• A partnership with business
stakeholders for ongoing success.
• High-level executive sponsorship.
• Sufficient prominence in the
organizational hierarchy to have
visibility and impact.
• A reputation for proven results, excellent work ethic and ability to deploy
results that affect decision making.
Such strategic implementations will have
the highest chance of promoting widespread, analytically driven decisions and
surfacing new opportunities.
Make the most of your analytical talent|P19
All CoEs share many common components and characteristics:
• Sponsorship and governance.
• Analytics program management.
• Data stewardship.
• Internal processes.
• Technology availability.
• Data management. • Information delivery.
• Infrastructure management.
This is a comprehensive list of all possible
areas that may need to be addressed to
ensure proper and effective implementation of an analytic center of excellence.
It is important to point out that not all of
these functions will be managed by the
analytic CoE team. The point is to ensure
that these topics are considered so they
can be addressed. An assessment will
evaluate how these areas are functioning,
and how to best use existing resources
to enable the analytic experts to focus
primarily on solving business problems
rather than other data management and
quality challenges.
Approaches for establishing
an analytic CoE
The objective of analytic centers of
excellence is focused on maximizing the organizational benefit from the
investment in data and analytics. Analytic
centers of excellence, and any other
type of centers of excellence, are not
one-size-fits-all. The following key areas
must be considered as organizations
think about this valuable concept and
about the approach to establishing an
analytic CoE for their own environment:
• Degree of centralization versus
decentralization. Many organizational aspects need to be considered to
determine the right approach. Some
of these factors include the size of the
organization, level of reach (global vs.
local), the structure of the business
units and technical and IT resources,
the existing culture and level of collaboration between groups, the distribution of analytical resources, etc.
• Executive support. The support
from an executive level is essential
for empowering the analytic CoE to
produce accurate, repeatable and
timely results from applying analytics. Collaboration and discussion
between groups are necessary in
many cases to collect the requirements and data to apply analytics and, more importantly, to use
the results in the decision-making
process. Many successful applications of analytics are promoted by
the support of an executive in a
business unit that has a clear vision
and need to use analytics. Other implementations can have a broader
scope to cover multiple business
units or even the entire enterprise.
The common requirement is to have
high-level management support.
• Analytical skills. The availability of
analytical resources, skill levels and
responsibilities are other critical factors. These analytical resources
clearly are needed to move forward.
However, there are options for organizations to explore if these resources
are not available, if they are too few or
if additional training is needed. Some
of these options include outsourcing
some or all the analytical work initially,
or working with SAS and other partners in a collaborative way to provide
the initial resources while acquiring
new resources or training existing
staff members.
Analytic centers of excellence webcast:
Analytic centers of excellence white paper:
Anne Milley works closely with Product Marketing,
Product Management and R&D to drive SAS’ analytic
marketing strategy and direction. She began working with
SAS software while finishing her thesis on bank failure
prediction at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. She
continued her use of SAS at 7-Eleven Inc. as a senior business consultant. Milley has a Master of Arts in economics
from Florida Atlantic University, did post-graduate work at
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen and
is proficient in German.
P20|Good news for retail CIOs
Good news for retail CIOs
Business analytics technologies are more than just a trend
The last few years have been hard for
retailers. Sales are down and margins
are tight. Consumers are saving, not
spending – and their expectations are
changing. They’re increasingly mobile
and increasingly social online, so if you
don’t have the size, style or level of customer service they expect, their entire
social circle may hear about it in writing.
But there is good news for retail CIOs.
In an industry where technology has
traditionally taken a back seat to fashions and trends, there’s a newfound
interest in solving retailers’ most dataintense problems – including purchasing, merchandising, markdowns and
customer relationships – with business
analytics technologies.
Read on to hear how three CIOs at
well-known retail brands are using
SAS to solve business problems – and
improve automation, collaboration and
information visibility.
Good news for retail CIOs|P21
“Traditional business intelligence in retail
has reached a plateau of usefulness. We
look for specialized analytical applications
that offer automated analytical capabilities,
reducing the need for more human resources.
SAS Size Profiling is a good example of this.”
– Jon Kubo, Vice President and CIO at The Wet Seal
Accelerate fast fashion with SAS
How can you ensure the right assortment of merchandise – in the ideal mix
of sizes – at each store on a consistent
basis? Ask The Wet Seal. This fast-fashion retailer of contemporary apparel and
accessory items uses SAS Size Profiling
to transform historical sales data into accurate projections of future demand by
size. Integrated with existing merchandising systems, it applies this intelligence
to purchasing and allocation workflows.
The result is optimal, store-specific size
profiles that match local demand.
According to Jon Kubo, Vice President and CIO at The Wet Seal, the
implementation had a tight deadline, but
was delivered on time and on budget.
SAS’ industry-experienced consultants
delivered the solution in phases and
were able to provide early improvements
in size profiling calculations.
Because Wet Seal is a fast-fashion retailer, 85 percent of its products are not
replenished. “Size profiling is important
to us not only for buying the right size
breaks,” says Kubo, “but also because
we only get to buy a product once, with
the objective of selling through it quickly.
On the allocation side, we have to know
what the correct sizes need to be per
store.” The Wet Seal is moving toward a
localized, customer-centric approach to
pricing, assortment and size at the local
store level. “Size profiling is our first step
in doing that,” says Kubo. “In our market,
this is where we will create growth and
gain an advantage.”
According to Kubo, a key insight delivered by the SAS Size Profiling solution
is the ability to calculate lost sales at
both the chain and store-specific levels.
If a store didn’t sell a particular product
because it wasn’t in stock, the SAS solution can efficiently help The Wet Seal
look at similar stores in a cluster and imply why the store might have made the
same sale.
The implementation had a tight deadline, but was delivered on time and
on budget, says Kubo. SAS’ industryexperienced consultants delivered
the solution in phases and were able
to provide early improvements in size
profiling calculations.
“Traditional business intelligence in retail
has reached a plateau of usefulness,”
Kubo says. “We look for specialized analytical applications that offer automated
analytical capabilities, reducing the need
for more human resources. SAS Size
Profiling is a good example of this. While
most retailers rely on manual processes,
we look for technologies that augment
our limited resources and help raise intelligence about our operations and make
decisions on a more automated, efficient
and statistical basis.”
Go global with SAS
Stefano Gaggion is the Senior Vice
President and Chief Information Officer
at Brooks Brothers, the oldest clothing retailer in the US. Since introducing
SAS, the company’s inventory is better
managed, store managers have more
accurate information, and personalized
marketing campaigns are executed at a
lower cost.
“SAS is a solid and flexible technology
that is really a true enabler,” says Gaggion. “Our business could double or
triple in the next five years, and we will
have no technical limitations with SAS.’’
In recent years, the company has
taken its unmatched reputation for
tradition, value and high quality overseas,
opening stores in places like Shanghai,
Toronto and Hong Kong. The challenge
P22|Good news for retail CIOs
“SAS is a solid and flexible technology that
is really a true enabler. Our business could
double or triple in the next five years, and we
will have no technical limitations with SAS.”
– Stefano Gaggion, Senior Vice President
and CIO, Brooks Brothers
for executives is to replicate the Brooks
Brothers reputation for excellent quality
while juggling the demands of a global
supply chain and retail operations spread
over four continents.
The answer is to empower store managers and vendors to better manage the
business. Store managers receive key
reports, provided through SAS, to help
them find opportunities to improve store
performance and customer satisfaction.
The retailer also collaborates with vendor
manufacturing partners to give them
an accurate view of sales and demand,
benefiting both sides of the supply chain
– resulting in having the right merchandise in the right stores at the right time.
efficiency, collaboration and information
visibility across our global business,’’
Gaggion says.
ways to operate our campaign management,” explains Chief Information Officer
Gary King.
Campaign success with SAS
Retailers have invested heavily in loyalty
programs over the past decade, with the
hopes of analyzing customer data and
segmenting customers to offer just the
right discount coupon to one customer,
or the catalog with the perfect mix of
goods to another.
But that all changed with SAS OnDemand: Marketing Automation. Chico’s
soon saw validation for its SAS decision – ease of use became apparent in
speed to results. The company now segments catalog mailings and differentiates
promotion efforts for maximum impact.
Trendsetting customers receive different
catalogs than discount shoppers, and
online customers receive e-mails geared
to their buying habits.
The retailer has even used SAS to help
its charitable endeavors. Brooks Brothers supports the St. Jude Children’s
Research Hospital. To encourage sales
associates to solicit donations during
its annual Thanks and Giving campaign,
the company tracked performance daily
through SAS. Donations increased by
50 percent and the performance data
helped keep sales associates energized.
In reality, few retailers have successfully mastered that level of segmentation.
Instead, the customer data is gathered,
but unused. Or it’s periodically shipped
to a vendor who takes weeks to prepare
a campaign list. That’s the scenario that
Chico’s FAS Inc. faced. The Fort Myers,
FL-based company operates more than
1,000 boutiques throughout the US, US
Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico under the
Chico’s, White House | Black Market and
Soma brands. The boutiques feature
chic jackets, sophisticated tops, elegant
dresses, jewelry and more. The company also markets to consumers through
catalog and online channels.
The company chose SAS because it can
grow with Brooks Brothers – in scale,
business results and business capabilities. “SAS helps us maintain our level of
“We couldn’t automate processes, there
were a lot of operational inefficiencies, it
was inflexible and we were using lowlevel tools. It led us to look at different
Other improvements include midpromotion corrections so Chico’s can quickly
change its promotional strategies if
first attempts aren’t working. Plus, the
retailer is bringing lapsed customers
back to Chico’s.
“The difference for the campaign team is
night and day,” says King. “We are able
to turn around programs much more
quickly. A campaign takes four days to
pull together versus 30 days prior to using SAS. This has allowed the team to
create more targeted campaigns.”
Plus, the impact of the analysis Chico’s
has derived from SAS has delighted
executives. “Our executives are so ex-
Good news for retail CIOs|P23
How should retail CIOs
think about analytics?
Speakers on a recent retail industry panel
made a strong case for using analytics
to put customers at the center of the
retail business.
cited about the insights they are gaining
about the customer, where she shops
and the department that brought her
into the brand. It was an incredible
moment to partner with the marketing
managers and watch the work come to
life,” says Charlie White, Vice President of
Customer Relationship Marketing.
It’s all about the customer
In retail, perhaps more than any other
industry, it’s all about the customer.
The best retail CIOs understand this
fact. Whether you’re implementing an
on-demand solution to reduce inventory
or an on-site implementation to improve
merchandising, the focus should always
be on the customer. Continue to ask,
How will reduced inventories and better merchandising help the customer?
Keeping your best customers in mind will
help to ensure that analytics technologies are more than just a trend at your
company too.
Brooks Brothers success:
Chico’s success:
The Wet Seal success:
“The difference for the
campaign team is night
and day … A campaign
takes four days to pull
together versus 30 days
prior to using SAS. This
has allowed the team
to create more targeted
– Gary King, CIO, Chico’s
Jim Bacos, Director, Retail and Consumer
Goods Practice of Oliver Wyman, cautioned that successful analytics projects
are hard work, can take years to fully
implement and typically require change
throughout the organization – but most
retailers simply must make the effort.
“The old way of doing work and the old
way of being successful is becoming
more and more extinct.”
Bacos encouraged large retailers in particular to look beyond expansion and increasing store space, and focus instead
on small, incremental changes that –
when applied to thousands of SKUs and
billions of transactions – can really add up
to make a difference.
Giles Pavey, Head of Analysis at
dunnhumby, told a story of a grocer who
made a risky decision to keep budgetconscious customers happy. When the
executives noticed its stores were losing sales to other low-cost retailers, they
launched a range of 600 store-branded
discount products. Initially, the move
cannibalized sales and total revenue
went down. But the loyalty affect over
time has shown the long-term results to
be positive.
This story illustrates another of Pavey’s
points regarding the importance of measuring results: “You should measure the
results of changes you do and really understand where you’re doing things right,”
says Pavey.
P24|How to transition IT from cost center to value center
How to transition IT from
cost center to value center
Data integration and language translation bring efficiencies
A company whose product is information should regard its IT department as
its “factory floor,” the place where innovation happens and customer value
is produced. Yet many IT organizations
in these companies struggle to make
the transition from cost center to value
center because they are mired in timeconsuming operational processes, many
of them manual, that add little perceived
value. As credit bureau Emcredit discovered, however, it is possible to turn that
situation around with the right software
solutions and automated processes.
Emcredit is the first credit bureau in the
United Arab Emirates (UAE) and enjoys
official status in the Emirate of Dubai,
meaning that banks are mandated to
deal with Emcredit. Certified to international information security standards
(ISO 27001), Emcredit obtains a wealth
of data from a variety of sources: banks,
financial institutions and government
agencies. Like all credit bureaus around
the world, its mission is to assist its clients in maintaining healthy relationships
with customers while managing credit
risk. It does this by providing information, reports and decision support tools
that improve their clients’ evaluation
of customer life cycles. However, unlike most credit bureaus, Emcredit’s
scope is very broad: Emcredit provides
a 360-degree view of both commercial
and consumer customers.
Data: the backbone of the business
Emad Khatib, Emcredit’s CIO, realizes every day that the bureau’s reputation depends on providing accurate
information on bank customers. His
main responsibility is to take data from
multiple operational sources and turn
it into high-quality information that is
easily available in the right format. “Data
is the backbone of our business, so if
we don’t have these processes under
tight control, we will not succeed,” says
Khatib. In addition, Emcredit must identify genuinely bad risks while reducing
the number of consumer disputes to
the absolute minimum. “You don’t want
consumers and businesses challenging
a decision that was made on the basis
“Now our employees only intervene when there is an
error or an alert, and in the meantime we have retrained
them to focus on customer outreach and other tasks
that are more rewarding for them, and more profitable
for Emcredit. This has enabled us to transition the
IT department from a cost center to a value center.”
– Emad Khatib, CIO, Emcredit
How to transition IT from cost center to value center|P25
of inaccurate data, such as an incorrect
date of birth,” explains Khatib. “This reflects badly on our customers, which, in
turn, reflects badly on Emcredit.”
When it was in its start-up phase, Emcredit relied on manual processes to
extract raw data in a specific format,
which meant a lot of back-and-forth
discussions with the providers about
how and when the data could be delivered: after all, as commercial and
government agencies, these providers
had their own internal priorities; an external credit agency would have to wait
its turn.
Being based in the Gulf region, Emcredit
faced an additional challenge. Much of
the data was in Arabic and, moreover,
many of the systems generating the data
ran in Arabic. Consequently Emcredit
had to translate information into English
and then back-feed it into data tables. “In
fact, it was a little more complex than that.
The margin of error was high because
first we had to determine if the information was in proper Arabic and if it could
be translated into English,” says Khatib.
Only after translation could the data be
cleansed, validated, standardized and
merged – also manually – before it was
finally stored and moved into production.
Accelerated data acquisition
Emcredit knew that its future success
would require it to accelerate the data
acquisition process while reducing operational costs. It could only do this by
automating key processes such as the
identification, extraction and translation of Arabic data and data validation.
Above all it had to minimize the effort
required from the data source providers,
on whose goodwill Emcredit depended.
Emcredit selected SAS to integrate financial and personal data from multiple
providers and to standardize it in a single
specific file format. The company considered several vendors, but SAS scored
highest on the three key criteria of performance, accuracy and scalability. “SAS not
only met our immediate criteria but also
scored highest when we considered our
long-term objectives,” explains Khatib.
“Previously we had no choice but to deal
with different formats for each separate
provider. Each bank would have its own
specific rules for data validation and
matching. SAS provided a data format
that was flexible enough to accept all different source providers’ formats without
requiring manual intervention. Moreover,
we can add further commercial data
sources without any significant effort.”
A platform for more rewarding work
SAS could also recognize Arabic tokens,
which is not a straightforward process (in
Arabic, different tokens can be used for
words with the same meaning) and full
string names (such as the full legal entity name of a company, as opposed to
the commercial name). Before Emcredit
translates anything through its internal translation team, it matches terms
against the hundereds of thousands of
records in Emcredit’s dictionary. If any
tokens do not find a match, these are
sent to the translation team and the new
term is added to the SAS dictionary, thus
progressively diminishing the amount of
human intervention required.
“We have eliminated many manual
processes but this does not mean we
have reduced our headcount,” says
Khatib. “Instead, the SAS implementation has enabled us to focus on
value-adding activities.”
“Previously, we had three full-time employees permanently sitting in front of a
computer screen, working on integration- and translation-related tasks. Now
our employees only intervene when there
is an error or an alert, and in the meantime we have retrained them to focus on
customer outreach and other tasks that
are more rewarding for them, and more
profitable for Emcredit. This has enabled
us to transition the IT department from a
cost center to a value center.
“The SAS implementation has greatly increased our data coverage because we
can acquire data at a much faster pace.
We are also moving data much faster
from staging to production, which means
that the information we provide to our
customers is more up to date. SAS has
also improved our validation rules and
processes, which has raised the quality of our data, providing a significantly
higher hit rate when our customers are
looking for data matches.”
Improved data quality is a huge benefit that goes to the heart of Emcredit’s
business proposition: to provide banks
and other clients with accurate credit
information. Khatib concludes, “This
enables our clients to make quick and
fair decisions, minimizing disputes and
helping them to build more profitable
customer relationships.”
Data quality blog:
Data Prep 101 Webcast:
P26|Running IT as a business
Running IT as a business
Seven steps to aligning IT with the business
By Kate Morton, Global Practice Manager for Costing and Profitability, SAS Australia
The benefits of aligning
IT with the business
• Improve management control.
• Understand and communicate the
financial and non-financial value of
each IT project and operation.
• Comply with legislative requirements.
• Reallocate IT resources to projects
of most importance to the business.
• Facilitate the elimination of IT
projects that are not delivering.
Seven steps to aligning IT with
the business
The massive growth in IT over the past
decade has moved it from being a backoffice support function to a critical business unit. IT now ranks among the top
five expenditures of most companies.
CIOs have to show how the money is
spent, the returns they are getting for
their investments, and how IT is driving
corporate performance. This increased
role requires focus, vision and, above
all, transparency – into services, costs,
demand, processes and impact on corporate performance.
Cost management and transparency
For the CIO to compete for resources,
the IT function needs to operate as a
business within a business – providing
valuable services to the rest of the organization. The CIO must effectively educate the organization and provide clearly
articulated and relevant cost information.
A detailed understanding of the cost
within the IT business provides clear and
positive advantages to the CIO and the
wider organization:
• Ensuring optimal resource allocation
to areas of greatest value.
• More effective allocation of resources
to “areas of need.”
• Reducing complexity within IT and
simplifying internal processes.
• More informed budgeting
(capital and operating) and pricing
of new projects.
• Greater understanding of IT capacity
and ability for delivery.
• Ability to link IT investments to
overall organizational benefits.
• Facilitating practices and tools such
as total cost of ownership (TCO) and
return on investment (ROI).
Running IT as a business|P27
Follow these steps to align IT with the business
Alignment with business goals increases as IT works through each step.
The importance of chargeback
It is difficult to maximize returns from IT
when the product appears to be free to
customers. Ideally, IT operates as a service provider with a catalog of products
and services that are aligned with customer needs and corporate goals. For
this, IT needs:
• Accurate pricing for its services that
reflects the cost to provide them.
• An understanding of what drives
both demand and cost.
• An equitable, repeatable and
accurate method to track and invoice
customers based on their usage of
the services.
• To encourage end-user accountability
for the return on investments.
Cost control is the greatest benefit that
comes from IT chargeback. Gartner
research has shown that these cost
savings often exceed 15 percent in the
first year, from reduced demand and
smarter service use, and SAS has seen
these results reflected in its customers
across the world.
Chargeback gives clear transparency
into the benefits and the value that IT
brings, and the impact on the bottom line
means better relationships with the rest
of the organization.
Budgeting and planning
IT financial management processes are
often resource-intensive, involving the
manual collection of financial data that
is scattered across the enterprise. With
a lack of data to support accurate forecasts, the resulting budget is often based
on political biases.
A usage-based chargeback model creates the foundation on which to transform
the budgeting process to a streamlined
practice that quickly produces trusted
and reliable figures, increases governance, encourages collaboration and
ensures accountability and ownership
by stakeholders. This reduces the time
and effort involved while increasing the
accuracy of forecasts and simulations,
and forms the basis for the financial budget, aligning organizational objectives,
requirements, volume and cost.
Resource optimization
To maximize returns from new and
existing infrastructure, IT needs a consolidated, end-to-end view of use of its
applications and infrastructure, both
physical and virtual, to understand
how all IT components interact. IT
organizations have made substantial
cost savings through repurposing underused infrastructure and combining
server workloads.
Real usage data is used to feed the IT
chargeback cost models and forms the
basis for forecast calculations. IT can
ensure that infrastructure is sourced and
implemented based on actual demand,
and achieve better returns on investment.
Alignment with corporate strategy
IT often has difficulty linking organizational
strategy and objectives to IT investments
and financial performance. Aligning IT
with organizational strategy is critical to
focusing IT planning, resourcing and service delivery. Mapping IT strategy to enterprise goals ensures that IT planning is
optimized to support business success.
The IT strategy should involve assessing
technology capital readiness to support
organizational goals, and should value IT
not in terms of cost, but in terms of capacity to support strategic goals.
Chargeback gives clear transparency
into the benefits and the value that IT
brings, and the impact on the bottom
line means better relationships with
the rest of the organization.
P28|Running IT as a business
IT needs to track not just
technology-based metrics,
but also the impact and
benefits that IT brings to
an organization.
IT needs to track not just technologybased metrics, but also the impact
and benefits that IT brings to an organization. In addition to operational KPI
measurement, IT should measure how
well it is improving the capabilities of
the organization to achieve its corporate
strategies and maximize customer satisfaction, corporate productivity, profitability and competitiveness.
Success in IT business performance is
measured through the achievement of
optimal returns from new and existing
infrastructure and resources, but this
requires several steps.
1. The first step is to develop a catalog
of the services that the IT organization
provides to its customers. It establishes a standard set of deliverables
by creating business-oriented agreements and organizes services in a
way that customers understand and
use them.
2. The next step is to understand the
resources and activities that are
required to deliver these services.
The costs of the resources are then
allocated to the activities that consume them, and then in turn on to the
services that consume those activities. This builds up a cost model that
reflects the work done by IT, and the
costs required to provide the services
demanded by the organization.
3.Gather, consolidate and organize all
IT performance measurement and
usage data from sources across all
IT infrastructure into an IT-specific
data mart.
4.Feed the above usage information
into the IT cost model to generate
accurate and equitable charges for
each business unit based on their
consumption of the service catalog.
5.Analyze the cost model to understand which services have aboveaverage costs, and why this is so.
Develop cost-cutting strategies to
decrease the cost to serve while
still maintaining productivity and
customer satisfaction.
6.Combine the information in the IT
data mart with expert opinion to accurately forecast demand and cost
based on both statistical and judgmental forecasts, while ensuring that
budgets and plans are aligned with
strategic goals.
7. The result is an optimized IT function
that provides the organization with
cost-effective services that are tuned
to improving organizational productivity and profitability in accordance
with its strategic goals.
Managing IT as a business is now an imperative. No longer can IT be seen as a
technology supplier – it must be seen to
be adding value to the organization and
providing corporate strategic capability.
IT business performance allows IT to
change the focus from technology and
production to customers and services.
It enables IT to become service-oriented, aligning itself with the organization
to provide customer-driven solutions to
business problems.
Running IT as a business white paper:
The CFO/CIO Dynamic webcast:
The CIO as eco-champion|P29
The CIO as eco-champion
Five ways IT can contribute to a company’s green agenda
Working with a wide swath of FORTUNE
Global 500 companies over many years,
Accenture has observed that IT is often
perfectly placed to initiate and even spur
on the environmental agenda across
the organization.
It’s early days yet, but IT executives at
some farsighted companies are already
beginning to think and act in those terms
without losing any of their fiscal pragmatism. They’re starting to think about IT’s
impact beyond the data center.
But why IT? What makes the CIO a
likely or a credible champion of the
green cause?
The first answer is economic. For almost
all services businesses and even some
areas of light manufacturing, IT operations are responsible for the bulk of an
organization’s energy consumption – and
that share is climbing all the time. In effect, demand for IT’s services is growing
faster than the efficiency of the underlying technology. While IT can address
supply-side issues, it is also in a position
to manage demand.
The second answer is more diffuse.
Think how pervasive IT’s influence has
become. Today, using remote access
technology, personal communications
tools and a widening range of software
options to enable collaboration, IT
can shape and help determine where
and how people work, how much they
travel and how they behave when they
get to their destinations. All of which
translates not only into how much energy they consume but also how much
they use of other costly resources, from
paper to minerals.
IT’s impact can extend still further. The
workplace environment, the procurement methodology and the supply chain
are all within its sphere of influence – as
are the automation and efficiency of the
organization’s compliance with environmental regulations.
Taken together, these areas of influence
mean CIOs have a substantial opportunity to further the energy efficiency and
corporate citizenship aims of the entire
company. They can do this by proposing and implementing solutions that will
simultaneously produce business and
environmental benefits, increasing efficiency in terms of both cost and energy
and boosting employees’ ability to do
their jobs well in responsible ways that
also fit their lifestyles.
CIOs have a substantial
opportunity to further
the energy efficiency
and corporate citizenship
aims of the entire company.
P30|The CIO as eco-champion
Five focal points
One note of reason: This does not mean
recasting the CIO as a kind of greencaped crusader – a role that would be
neither credible nor practical. But it
does mean that CIOs and their leadership teams can begin to step up to their
potential for influencing the company’s
green agenda. Accenture has identified
five areas where this can happen.
Part of the challenge is to properly
monitor energy use over a range of duty
cycles. With the development of virtualization, it is even more important to be
able to collect and analyze information
about power consumption. Distributing
storage and processing cycles without
considering the power issues can actually accelerate system crashes, some
experts point out.
1. Don’t let up on the data center
Since poorly configured data centers can
use 100 times the electricity per square
foot of a typical office building, it’s easy
to see why this is the natural starting
point for IT’s green initiatives.
2. Let IT foster green work practices
The CIO can play a leading role in changing employee behavior, starting with
enabling people to work remotely by
providing “thin client” and Web-enabled
business services. In the office, IT can
also help reinforce policies that encourage employees to conserve energy by
turning off their computers after use
rather than leaving them on standby,
recycling waste, and printing documents
only when necessary. However – and
this is a big “however” – IT cannot simply
enforce changes in employee behavior. There’s no point, for instance, in IT
imposing companywide default printer
settings if workers can (and will) simply
override them.
One approach is to refresh rather than
rebuild. Building out a new data center
can cost about $1,000 per square foot
and take years, while using strategies
such as virtualization, standardization,
orchestration and automation to extend
the lifespan of a data center requires
only a fraction of that cost. Virtualization
of servers can be a good first step into
other computing models such as cloud
computing – which also offers significant
green IT benefits.
Shared-services practices can lead to
server consolidation, and application renewal can help boost system efficiency.
At the same time, optimization of where
and why processing takes place can also
help to tackle energy inefficiency, while
smart scheduling of computer usage to
create “follow-the-sun” processing models may reduce energy consumption and
costs even further.
IT first needs to map the many ways it
influences work practices and then study
how changes to those practices could reduce the organization’s carbon footprint.
Then it must objectively weigh the risks
against the rewards of doing so – the
dangers to data security of supporting
mobile devices, for instance – and prioritize the practices that will yield the greatest energy savings with the lowest risks.
3. Rewire (and recycle) the office
IT can also help reduce resource consumption on the company’s premises
by partnering with facilities management
teams. Besides cutting the use of electricity, more energy-efficient office equipment, including multifunction and
double-sided printers, can create significant savings in consumables such as
paper and toner. Postponing the replacement of desktops can also help (consider
that the energy used to make the average PC equals four-fifths of the energy
that PC will use over its normal life).
At the same time, many IT executives
are uniquely placed to lead the commitment to the responsible disposal of office
equipment. That is because in the typical
service firm, and even in some light manufacturing and distribution facilities, the
servers, PCs, routers, storage systems
and other IT hardware represent the
company’s largest capital expenditure.
Disposal activities can involve finding
and arranging new homes for outdated
gear and organizing the recycling of nonfunctional or obsolete equipment.
4. Purchase with green intent
Here’s an area where IT can rapidly make
an enormous difference. There are two
main opportunities for savings.
First, there is the CIO’s immediate influence over the IT hardware that can
make up such a large slice of the company’s capital expenditure. As the most
basic step, the CIO’s organization can
require that all hardware purchases be
The CIO as eco-champion|P31
accredited through Energy Star or other
similar programs. It can also favor suppliers that are proactive about reducing,
reusing or recycling their packaging.
Going further, IT can rate suppliers on the
extent to which they run their businesses
in environmentally acceptable ways.
The second area of influence applies
more to industries that produce and
distribute goods. By collaborating with
the company’s supply chain and logistics experts, IT can help to identify processes and tools that engender “smart
logistics” – maximizing freight payloads,
consolidating shipments, improving supply chain visibility to minimize distances
shipped, and evaluating the carbon footprints of transportation options.
5. Help elevate corporate citizenship
By interacting in environmentally friendly
ways with local, regional and global communities, the IT department engenders
goodwill and helps burnish the company’s image as a responsible corporate
citizen. This might mean something as
simple as recycling IT assets to local
charities – or helping neighboring small
businesses to do so as well. Or it could
be as involved as working with regional
governments to introduce measures that
encourage businesses and individuals to
turn off PCs when they’re not being used.
By taking a central and proactive role in
executing the company’s green agenda,
IT also positions itself to help build responsible practices internally across the
work force, and to communicate those
practices externally to the wider community of stakeholders. Investors and
analysts, for example, now take a keen
interest in companies’ environmental
performance; by pursuing initiatives of
the kind outlined above, the CIO can
help ensure that there is a positive story
to tell.
Read the full version of this article:
Download a sustainability e-book:
This article was excerpted from “The business case for a greener IT agenda,” by Stephen Nunn,
Dale R. Hersch and Rockwell C. Bonecutter, with permission from Accenture.
RACE to the cloud
A product demo failure caused by inadequate memory and low I/O capacity from an individual
laptop is every sales executive’s worst nightmare. Almost as bad is this fear of brand managers:
presentations and demos with no standardization or quality control. Or consider this fear from
managers: inefficient setup and staging that lead to the creation of one-off demonstrations and
an inconsistent message.
To overcome these common challenges, an IT department at a large software company used
SAS virtualization technologies to automate the provisioning and scheduling of resources, and to
create a global cloud computing environment for sales executives known as the Remote Access
Computing Environment (RACE).
This reliable, self-service, on-demand system allows sales staff to:
Choose images from more than 500 products and solutions for demos, classes, testing
and customer proofs of concept.
Personalize and brand the demo or training content to reflect the customer’s view or data.
Connect and access content from within the cloud from any internet enabled device.
Collaborate and share their stored demos with other departmental users and business
partners to share content.
Virtualization of the environment was completed in 2007 and is now used by sales leaders,
software trainers and technical support employees to replicate customer problems and test
solutions – in a private, internal cloud.
Among the many positive RACE usage statistics:
• Reservations of the system have increased tenfold since its inception.
• More than 4,000 individual environments are created each week within the cloud.
• The cost per user to create customer-facing demos has dramatically dropped, due
to decreased hardware costs, increased staff productivity and more efficient use of
hardware capacity.
Based on its initial success, the environment is also being adapted by the company’s Research
and Development department to reduce quality assurance time for product development.
P32|Four methods for high-performance computing
Four methods for
high-performance computing
How to choose the right high-performance computing
method for your business analytics scenario
By Keith Collins, Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer, SAS
Anyone who advanced past basic mathematics in school has learned this simple
concept: Large problems can often be
divided into groups of smaller problems.
In computing, this concept is gaining
traction on a very large scale. Parallel
processing, grid computing and virtualization are all different methods used to
spread large computational problems
among multiple resources. But let’s
move past the hype and talk about how
you can best use some of these architectures in your IT environment.
At SAS, we’ve identified and developed
four unique ways to distribute highperformance computing resources to
give you the right amount of computing
power, right where you need it for your
unique analytical problems. In this column, I’ll explain each of those methods
and describe specific scenarios where
you might use each one.
Method 1: Shared storage
What it is: The first configuration is
basic grid computing. In this scenario,
multiple machines are pulling data from
a single data source, and each machine
is running different pieces of the bigger
algorithm or mathematical equation.
Essentially, you’re breaking one big
problem into multiple pieces and
running each of those pieces against
the same data source at the same time.
This configuration is used primarily as a
way to solve batch window time problems. If your current process doesn’t
run as quickly as you need it to, you
split it up and run each piece in parallel.
When you use it: Typically, the calculations in these scenarios can be
partitioned pretty naturally. You can
partition the problem by something
inherent in the data, such as time,
geographic region or products. There
is an obvious way to break the problem into smaller pieces or a natural
way of splitting up the algorithm.
A second type of partitioning scheme
takes advantage of discrete computational steps or subparts in the
algorithm (sometimes called threads).
Subparts can be calculated in parallel
and then brought back together.
The SAS difference: We do this today
with SAS Grid Manager, and we can
automate analytic processes to help you
do this in SAS Data Integration Studio
and SAS Enterprise Miner .
Business benefit: As opposed to
running all of your calculations as a
sequential process, you’re computing
things in parallel. Whether you use data
partitioning or algorithm partitioning, the
main point is that independent computational processes can take place at
the same time from a single data source.
Figure 1:
Traditional storage vs. shared storage
Four methods for high-performance computing|P33
Now that you’re processing data faster than
the window of time needed, you can start asking
what-if questions of real-time streaming data.
Method 2: Moving compute
to partitioned data
What it is: Partitioned data architectures
use a single process for distributing the
data. Each processor or “worker node”
then accesses its portioned data and
performs its computing. In many cases,
the data is already partitioned and exists
in separate data stores before you apply
analytics to it.
When you use it: These architectures
are useful for situations where the data
is fairly static or can be easily bulk partitioned. We currently have a lot of retail
clients using this type of architecture for
markdown optimization and merchandise planning. They have a lot of data
that needs to be stored and associated with appropriate computations,
and there’s a high correlation between
the analytics needed and the data that
persists on that node. Using this setup,
retailers have been able to reduce batch
processing times for promotion optimization and price markdown problems.
In many cases, they have already split
the data by division, which is the right
granularity for the optimization problem,
so they can optimize prices by division.
The SAS difference: Advancements
with SAS In-Database Analytics make it
possible to move the relevant analytic,
data integration and business intelligence tasks closer to the data in this
type of architecture. For example, one
SAS retail customer is using real-time
OLAP for merchandise planning, which
takes all that data, puts it in memory
and then does what-if computations in
a large grid architecture.
Business benefit: When there is a business need for data to be partitioned in
a certain way, allowing analytics to be
used within that existing partitioning
scheme has many natural advantages,
including speed and accuracy. In other
cases, analytics needs to be moved to
where the data is because governance
around data and the cost to move data
is too high.
Figure 2:
Traditional storage vs. partitioned,
distributed data architecture
P34|Four methods for high-performance computing
We’ve identified and developed four unique ways to
distribute high-performance computing resources to give
you the right amount of computing power, right where
you need it for your unique analytical problems.
Method 3: Moving data to compute
What it is: This type of distributed
processing spreads a combination of
threads and processes across multiple
machines. Essentially, you break the
problem up into a bunch of small pieces
along with the data that is needed for
each subproblem, and send both the
data and the algorithm to different nodes
to be processed. In the most complex
cases, this involves a “tree” of workers
(or nodes), with some workers automatically delegating tasks to subworkers.
When you use it: In general, this configuration is good for large computations
of smaller amounts of data where you
distribute all or most of the data to all the
different worker nodes. In other words,
the amount of data being analyzed is
relatively small but the computational
tasks involve many parts and subparts.
Customers are using this today for complex risk calculations. For example, large
international banks can recalculate their
entire risk portfolios at very high speeds
with this grid configuration handling hundreds of predictive computations for a
pricing portfolio in a very short amount of
time. One key factor in determining the
value of this setup is to consider whether
the amount of data being moved around
is a manageable size for the available
network bandwidth.
The SAS difference: This architecture
distributes work across many machines and uses threads to leverage
the hardware on each machine. SAS
has developed patent-pending algorithms that maximize the use of this
architecture. We also use a variant of
the classic message passing interface
(MPI) by breaking problems down
into smaller subproblems and using
threads to further break down and
solve the subproblems.
Business benefit: Now that you’re
processing data faster than the window of time needed, you can start
asking what-if questions of real-time
streaming data.
Figure 3:
Traditional storage vs. message
passing architecture
Four methods for high-performance computing|P35
Method 4: Adding the present to past
and future calculations
What it is: Methods 1 through 3 look at
historical data and traditional architectures with information stored in the warehouse. In this environment, it often takes
months of data cleansing and preparation to get the data ready to analyze.
Now, what if you want to make a decision
or determine the effect of an action in real
time – as a sale is made, for instance, or
at a specific step in the manufacturing
process. With streaming data architectures, you can look at data in the present and make immediate decisions. The
larger flood of data coming from smart
phones, online transactions and smartgrid houses will continue to increase the
amounts of data that you might want to
analyze but not keep. Real-time streaming, complex event processing (CEP) and
analytics will all come together here to let
you decide on the fly which data is worth
keeping and which data to analyze in real
time and then discard.
Systems Devices
The SAS difference: There are a lot of
classic statistical process control ideas
that originated in manufacturing in the
1980s that can be applied to the way
information enters systems and the way
we communicate with people who receive the information. We have a lot of
experience with CEP and rules engines
that influences our work in this area.
Business benefit: The attention toward
in-database analytics fits within this area
of high-performance computing as well.
Our strategy for the future will be to put
the computing power as close to the data
as possible, recognizing that as volumes
of data increase, you need to move data
management processes and analytic
processes to the right place. Sometimes
those processes are directly connected
to the devices coming in, where analytics needs to be applied before you ever
store the data.
Systems Devices
When you use it: Radio-frequency identification (RFID) offers a good user case
for this type of architecture. RFID tags
provide a lot of information, but unless
the state of the item changes, you don’t
need to keep warehousing the data about
that object every day. You only keep data
when it moves through the door and out
of the warehouse. The same concept
applies to a customer who does the
same thing over and over. You don’t
need to keep storing data for analysis on
a regular pattern, but if they change that
pattern, you might want to pay attention.
If you can detect that they’re using credit
in different way, for example, you may
want to respond. If their phone has been
working fine, but you can see that its performance is starting to deteriorate, what
can you do to improve performance on
the fly? You can only take immediate action if you have a system for analyzing
data in real time.
IDC white paper: Raising the Bar on Business Analytics:
Innovation Powered by Grid
Data Warehouse/Database
Keith Collins, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology
Officer (CTO) at SAS, is responsible for driving corporate
technology strategy through a focus on customer- and
partner-facing activities. Collins fosters close working
relationships with marketing and sales to ensure that
SAS technologies are aligned with customer needs and
market demand. He has been instrumental in leading SAS’
evolution as a provider of industry-specific solutions.
Figure 4:
Traditional architecture
vs. streaming architecture
P36|Top 5 reasons why CIOs want business analytics
Top 5 reasons why CIOs
want business analytics
SAS executive explains how to bring efficiency to IT
By Patrick Van Deven, SAS Belgium Country Office Manager
We work hard at SAS to understand our
customers’ business problems, but we
also make every effort to understand
what IT leaders are confronted with on
a day-to-day basis. Let me be clear: It’s
not that IT isn’t interested in the business
value, or that IT leaders don’t understand
it. That would be insulting.
The CIO of a Belgian Federal Ministry
explains it like this: “IT invests in new
technologies that deliver massive
efficiency gains to the business, but
then we [IT] are left with the recurring charges from these investments
– including maintenance, licenses,
upgrades – while
the business
enjoys the benefits. The following year,
the benefits are forgotten and the IT
budget gets cut again.” Over time, this
pattern creates such frustration that
IT leaders become leery of vendors
who pitch business benefits.
In my 11 years at SAS, I’ve worked
with dozens of CIOs, and I’ve helped
with hundreds of SAS implementations. In that time, I worked two years
in sales, five years as Director of our
professional services division, and –
most recently – I’ve led the country
office for SAS Belgium. Based on my
experiences with CIOs in nearly every
industry, I’ve come to believe there are
five main reasons CIOs enjoy working
with SAS Business Analytics:
make a wholescale change across his
organization. But who did he choose
last year when looking for a complete
platform for a new site in a foreign
subsidiary? He chose SAS, partly
because he wanted a test case for the
benefits of an integrated system.
System integration
To deal with budget cuts and demands
for efficiency, IT leaders are always looking for ways to reduce disparate skill
sets so that they don’t have to have
different employees supporting a
complex, patchwork system. We have
customers managing SAS with just one
or two full-time employees for a population of hundreds of users for critical
business applications. One international
bank I work with has a long history of
business analytics developments, and
they are a best-of-breed shop because
they’ve implemented a series of disparate systems over a long period of time.
The CIO knows that situation very well,
and he understands fully the value of
an integrated platform and the cost
savings that could come with it. However, it’s not a strategic time for him to
The SAS System is portable, and we
engineer our releases in a way that
minimizes migration issues. The CIO of
a large manufacturer recently told me
they migrated their 15-year-old SAS
programs from a VAX VMS system to
Windows in just a few hours, and they
still run fine. In contrast, he has decided to drop Business Objects, because
his team had to rewrite everything to
migrate it to XI, and that was the third
time he confronted that same issue with
them. That rewriting is something he
has never experienced with SAS.
SAS Analytics can do almost anything.
That means we can replace a lot of other
systems. If standardization is the agenda, SAS can help reduce vendors in or-
Top 5 reasons why CIOs want business analytics|P37
The SAS Benelux office, Robiano Castle, houses 110 employees.
der to reduce overall costs. We’ve helped
customers successfully replace CA
MICS, Focus, IBM QMF and more. One
retail bank we work with decided to
buy the entire SAS Business Analytics
Framework for data integration, business intelligence and analytics. Then
they started looking at SAS IT Resource
Management, and realized if they bought
it to replace CA MICS, the savings they
saw by not paying the MICS license fees
paid for the entire SAS investment, including the business analytics framework.
Plus, we used a SAS macro to complete
the conversion project in 1/20 the time
it would have taken for the bank to do
it themselves manually. In the end,
the bank invested 400 man-days to
complete the conversion, but increased
revenue by US$1 million per year.
SAS can do what others vendors do,
but those vendors can’t do everything
that we do. In other words, customers
can use their existing SAS products
for more than they currently do today without paying anything more.
We’re working with two different CIOs
to replace QMF and Focus on the
mainframe. In both cases, SAS
mainframe renewal fees are lower
than the competitors for the same
or better functionality.
The CIO of a Belgian payroll management company said that SAS is
probably the only software that will
survive the phaseout of their mainframe.
He says that negotiating with us is totally different than with the other legacy
vendors who know that they have no
future anymore and therefore play it
extremely hard. At SAS, we help these
customers move away from a lockin situation where they get charged
rip-off prices by platform providers.
At one company, we learned that SAS
usage fees on the mainframe have larger
collateral costs than the actual SAS
license fees. For every $1 spent
on the SAS renewal fee, they’re spending
$2 for CPU time and $1 for storage.
We’re now helping that customer move
80 percent of their SAS usage to cheaper platforms, where CPU cost will be
50 cents per dollar of the SAS renewal.
As you can see from these examples,
SAS makes every effort to support IT
and the business. It doesn’t have to
be either or. When we take the time to
understand both, everyone benefits.
SAS Belgium and Luxembourg:
Patrick Van Deven is the Country Office Manager for
SAS in Belgium and Luxembourg. Van Deven started
at SAS in 1999 as Account Manager and was subsequently appointed Professional Services Director
in September 2001. Prior to joining SAS, Van Deven
was Managing Director of BJL IT, a Brussels-based
services company.
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