How to Effectively Realize Data


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Organizations are inundated with data – terabytes and petabytes of it. Data pours in
from every conceivable direction: from operational and transactional systems, from
scanning and facilities management systems, from inbound and outbound customer
contact points, from mobile media and the Web. It is structured and unstructured; it is
messy and overwhelming; it flows at greater speed than ever.
The optimist’s vision for this tidal wave of data is that organizations will be able to harvest
and harness every relevant byte of it to make supremely informed decisions.
However, traditional architectures and infrastructures are not up to the challenge. IT
teams are burdened with ever-growing requests for data, ad hoc analyses and oneoff
reports. Decision makers become frustrated because it takes hours or days to
get answers to questions, if at all. More users are expecting self-service access to
information in a form they can easily understand and share with others.

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How to Effectively Realize Data

  1. 1. How to Effectively Realize Data VisualizationGaining Insights from Your Data Faster than Ever and Sharing the Insights with Others CONCLUSIONS PAPERInsights from a Webinar in the Applying Business Analytics Webinar SeriesFeaturing:Justin Choy, Global Product Management, Business Intelligence,SASJennifer Marchi, Global Product Marketing, Business Intelligence,SAS
  2. 2. SAS Conclusions PaperTable of Contents ®Quickly Visualize Big Data Analysis on the iPad and the Web . . . . . 1 ®Introducing SAS Visual Analytics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 ® The Six Components of SAS Visual Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Fast and Easy Visual Data Exploration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Visually Explore the Data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Create Your Own Hierarchies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Choose the Best Visualization for the Data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Refine the View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Understand the Distribution of the Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Identify Relationships Among Variables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . Understand – with Confidence – What It Means. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Create Your Own Visual Reports and Dashboards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8Publish Information to the Web and Mobile Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9Closing Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
  3. 3. How to Effectively Realize Data VisualizationQuickly Visualize Big Data Analysis on the iPad® and the WebOrganizations are inundated with data – terabytes and petabytes of it. Data pours infrom every conceivable direction: from operational and transactional systems, from Learn Morescanning and facilities management systems, from inbound and outbound customer View the on-demand recordingcontact points, from mobile media and the Web. It is structured and unstructured; it is of this webinar:messy and overwhelming; it flows at greater speed than ever. optimist’s vision for this tidal wave of data is that organizations will be able to harvest Other events in the Applyingand harness every relevant byte of it to make supremely informed decisions. Business Analytics Webinar Series:, traditional architectures and infrastructures are not up to the challenge. ITteams are burdened with ever-growing requests for data, ad hoc analyses and one- For more about SAS® Visualoff reports. Decision makers become frustrated because it takes hours or days to Analytics:get answers to questions, if at all. More users are expecting self-service access to in a form they can easily understand and share with others. To see a video demo of“Many challenges arise when working with this much data,” said Justin Choy, Global SAS® Visual Analytics:Product Manager for Business Intelligence Solutions at SAS. Choy joined Jennifer of SAS Business Intelligence Product Marketing for a webinar in the SAS watch?v=1DUM4YdnzzAApplying Business Analytics Series. “One problem is that it takes a long time toaggregate all that data. To get around this problem, IT has to create summaries of the Related white papers:data, or a cube with predefined hierarchies for better performance.” Big Data: Harnessing a Game-Changing Asset“Once you have a summary or a cube of the data, you can look at it more quickly,” said “But what happens when you realize you need to look at the data in a differentway than the summary or cube provides? You would typically have to turn to a data In-Memory Analysis: Deliveringadministrator or someone else in IT, and request another view of the data. In most Insights at the Speed of Thoughtorganizations, accessing this new view will take some time, sometimes even a day,, in turn, delays your analysis.” High-Performance AnalyticsAnother problem is that some business questions are best answered by using all Insights: Big Data, Biggeravailable and relevant data, which might be too much data to process within the Opportunitiesdecision window. is where high-performance computing and data visualization techniques come in.“Data visualization is shaking up the world of analytics, changing the way you work withdata,” said Marchi. “You’ll find insights from your data faster than ever and be able toshare those insights with others.” 1
  4. 4. SAS Conclusions PaperIntroducing SAS® Visual Analytics“SAS® Visual Analytics is a high-performance, in-memory solution for exploring massive Do you simply want to collectamounts of data very quickly, using SAS’ industry-leading analytics,” said Marchi. “It large amounts of data, or do youenables users to spot patterns, identify opportunities for further analysis and conveyvisual results via Web reports or an iPad®.” want to understand and take advantage of its full businessWith SAS Visual Analytics, business users can explore data visually on their own, but value? What if you could easilyit goes well beyond traditional query and reporting. Running on low-cost, industry-standard blade servers using Hadoop distributed processing, it delivers answers in access more than a billionseconds or minutes instead of hours or days. This kind of processing speed with rows of data, and then verymassive data sets makes it possible to find important insights quickly – insights that quickly explore all of that datawere not evident before. using visualization techniquesFor example, marketing campaign optimizations that previously took eight to 10 hours combined with powerfulor more can now run in less than three minutes. Bank risk calculations that once took 18 analytics? You can.hours can now be completed in 15 minutes.High-performance computing completely redefines what’s possible. Analysts can usecomplete data sets instead of sample subsets. They can apply sophisticated analytictechniques, not just simple calculations, to generate descriptive and predictive insightsfrom all that data. And they can put this power into the hands of a broad range of usersthrough a dynamic, visual interface.Consider some possibilities. Retail marketing analysts are always looking for ways tooptimize the offers and promotions they make to customers. When they can includemore data from online sales and hundreds of stores – plus demographic information,purchased market data, social media data and any other relevant data source – they SAS Visual Analytics combinescan determine “next best offer” recommendations with greater accuracy and certainty. an easy-to-use dynamicThey are not limited to a subset of customers; they can get on-target recommendationsfor entire populations, quickly and easily. interface and in-memory processing to enable all typesConsider fraud detection models for banking and finance. With SAS Visual Analytics of users to visually exploreembedded in the analytics life cycle, analysts can look at more data – more often andmore quickly – for new insights that lead to better models that can be quickly adapted to big data, execute analyticaddress new and emerging patterns of fraud. correlations on billions of rows of data in minutes orRetail, telecommunications and financial services are showing the greatest early interestin SAS Visual Analytics because of its ability to analyze large customer and prospect seconds, understand what thepools at an individual level while easily managing a collaborative analytics environment. data really means, and deliverIn time, data visualization capabilities will be extended across the SAS software portfolio. the results quickly wherever needed via Web reports and mobile devices.2
  5. 5. How to Effectively Realize Data Visualization ®The Six Components of SAS Visual AnalyticsSAS Visual Analytics includes the following components. “The speed of in-memory• The SAS® LASR™ Analytic Server quickly reads data into memory for fast architecture offers tremendous processing and data visualization, with direct communication to clients. benefit. Organizations can• SAS Visual Analytics Explorer is a discovery and visualization tool for ad hoc data explore huge data volumes exploration and analysis. and get answers to critical• SAS Visual Analytics Designer provides a graphical, drag-and-drop environment to create standard and custom reports and dashboards. questions in near-real time. SAS• SAS Visual Analytics Mobile is a tool for viewing reports by connecting to servers Visual Analytics offers a double and downloading information on the go. bonus: the speed of in-memory• SAS Visual Analytics Hub provides a central location to launch the various analytics plus self-service elements of SAS Visual Analytics. eliminates the traditional wait• SAS Visual Analytics Environment Administration allows administrators to manage users, security and data. for IT-generated reports.”SAS Visual Analytics is tremendously powerful for its in-memory and massive parallel Dan Vessetprocessing capabilities, but it is still cost-effective, said Choy. “One of the ways we’ve Program Vice President of Businessmade it cost-effective is to use commodity hardware, taking advantage of Hadoop Analytics Research, IDCfor data persistence on blade servers from HP and Dell, as well as dedicated dataappliances from our partners Teradata and EMC Greenplum.”SAS LASR Analytic Server has been tested on billions of rows of data and is extremelyscalable, bypassing the known column limitations of many relational databasemanagement systems (RDBMS). This processing power is coupled with SAS Analytics,which differs from other solutions that simply move data from a SQL database intomemory. Other solutions cannot support regressions or logistics models because suchcapabilities are not built into databases. 3
  6. 6. SAS Conclusions PaperFast and Easy Visual Data Exploration“One of the first things a data analyst wants to do when presented with a new set of Users can explore all data,data is to get some idea what it’s about,” said Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS. “What are execute analytic correlationsthe outliers? What variables are related to each other? Up until now, analysts would have on billions of rows of data into spend hours and hours doing samples so they could actually get jobs to run. WithSAS Visual Analytics, you can cruise a billion records to create graphs and plots one seconds, and visually presentafter the other. It really allows you to understand your data better before you go into the results to the Web and mobilehigh-performance analytics.” devices. This kind of processingMarchi and Choy demonstrated how SAS Visual Analytics Explorer can conceptualize, speed with massive data setsvisualize and investigate the data in different ways to find the best answer a particular makes it possible to quicklybusiness question. To see SAS Visual Analytics in action, check out the four-minute identify patterns, trends anddemo at relationships in data that wereVisually Explore the Data not evident before.“By dragging and dropping hierarchies or categories onto the visualization pane, I canquickly and easily see how my revenue expenses are doing by region,” said Choy,demonstrating the system. “I can hover over the bubbles and see that my West regionis doing better than other regions. I can double-click on the bubble and go into thatregion for more detail. It’s as simple as that, and all of the data being presented to meis based on a billion rows of geographic, product and financial information forthis manufacturing company.”Figure 1: The interface uses intuitive, drag-and-drop actions and visualizations.4
  7. 7. How to Effectively Realize Data VisualizationCreate Your Own HierarchiesIf you need the data organized a certain way for the business problem at hand, youdon’t have to go to your company’s data specialists to request a new view of the data.“With SAS Visual Analytics, you have access to all of the data, and based on all of thedata, you can create and modify your own hierarchies to explore the data, however andwhenever you want, without having to rely on someone else,” said Choy.“It is so easy to do. I can create a new visualization and then go into the ‘Create a New Build-it-yourself hierarchiesHierarchy’ area, and then just double-click or drag and drop [from a menu selection box]the items on which I want to build a hierarchy. Once I’m satisfied with that, I can give it a eliminate the need for dataname or just hit ‘OK.’ It’s that easy.” analysts to constantly seek help from IT. It is easy to drill up andChoy demonstrated how the new hierarchy appears in the visualization. Double-click ona bar in a bar chart or on a slice of a pie chart, for instance, and you can drill down to a down through the hierarchies todifferent level or go back up a level. All of these views are changing within seconds, yet slice and dice data on any level.drawing on a billion rows of data behind the scenes.Choose the Best Visualization for the Data“When you’re working with a billion rows of data, it is really difficult to quicklyunderstand what’s happening in the data simply by looking at rows and columns,”said Marchi. “Even guessing what type of chart to use can be challenging. SASVisual Analytics simplifies all that by using intelligent autocharting to recommend anappropriate type of visual for the information you’re trying to view. It could be a line orbar chart, a scatter plot or box plot, heat maps or bubble charts – anything from theportfolio of available visualizations.” Autocharting capabilities helpIn the example shown in the demo, SAS Visual Analytics recognized that the data had users create the best possiblegeographic elements – revenue and expenses by geographic regions – and offered the visualizations, including thosedata as a bubble plot superimposed on a map of the regions. In another example, Choy specifically designed to displayshowed how SAS Visual Analytics chose a line chart as the best visual for a selection of big data.two variables, then changed to a clustered bar chart when a third variable was added.Of course, users can always select the desired of visual – anything acceptable to themeasures and categories chosen.And remember, this speed-of-sight display is being calculated with 1.1 billion rowsand 47 columns of data. 5
  8. 8. SAS Conclusions PaperRefine the ViewWhat if you only want to view data for a certain region, product line or some othervariable? “SAS Visual Analytics has filtering capabilities that make it easy to refine theinformation you’re viewing,” said Marchi. “Simply add a measure to the filter pane orselect one that’s already there, and then select or deselect the items on which to filter.”What if the filter isn’t meaningful, or it skews the data in undesirable ways? A histogramon the right of the screen provides a visual cue about the distribution of the data,showing how the data is affected by filtering a particular measure, said Marchi, whoused expenses as an example. “The histogram shows that the majority of the data ison the left, so if I filter from the right, it will have a minimal impact on the informationI’m viewing in the visualization pane. However, if I filter from the left, it will have a moresignificant effect on what I’m viewing, because the majority of the data is distributed inthis area. Histograms allow you to save time by giving you an idea what effect the filterwill have on the data before you apply it. Rather than relying on trial and error or gut feel,you can use the histogram to help you decide what areas to focus on.”Understand the Distribution of the DataUnderstanding the distribution of the data is now as simple as creating a new visualand dragging the measure or category onto the visualization pane.“By default, the system automatically calculates the best distribution for the data, butthe user can go under the ‘Properties’ tab and change that,” said Choy. “A histogramshows how the data is distributed, but a better visual for this purpose is a box plot[which graphically depicts numerical data through summary calculations such asminimum, maximum, upper and lower quartile, and median]. I can create a new box plotby creating a new visualization, selecting that visual, and then dragging and droppingthe visual on here. You can hover over the box plot and not only see the distribution ofthe data, but also where the important 50 percent of your data is, as well as some basicstatistics about the data, such as average, median, standard deviation, minimum andmaximum, average standard deviation, whisker and quartiles information, and count.“I can even add a new measure onto here, and we can do a comparison over twodifferent measures in the box plot. I can then add another category in here, such asproduct line, for example, and now instead of doing 10 calculations on the fly, we’reactually doing 40 calculations over a billion rows. And we’re getting the results extremelyfast, especially considering that the median, the middle value of the data, requiresscanning all 1.1 billion rows of data.”6
  9. 9. How to Effectively Realize Data VisualizationFigure 2: Interactive box plots help users quickly understand the distribution of the data.Identify Relationships Among VariablesSAS Visual Analytics makes it easy to assess relationships among variables. Justselect a group of variables and drop them into the visualization pane; the intelligent “By using box plots andautocharting function displays a color-coded correlation matrix that quickly identifies correlation matrices, SAS Visualstrong and weak relationships between the variables. Darker colored boxes indicate Analytics can help speed upa stronger correlation, lighter boxes a weaker correlation. Hover over a box to see a your analytics life cycle becausesummary of the relationship. Double-click on a box in the matrix for further detail. analytical modelers can now do“Previously, this type of calculation would have taken many hours, but now it can be variable reduction more quicklydone in seconds,” said Choy. “Think about it; we’ve generated a 10 by 9 correlation and effectively.”matrix, executing 45 correlation calculations on over a billion rows of data, and theresults were displayed in seconds. By using box plots and correlation matrices, SAS Justin ChoyVisual Analytics can help speed up your analytics life cycle because analytical modelers Global Product Management,can now do variable reduction more quickly and effectively.” Business Intelligence, SASUnderstand – with Confidence – What It MeansDo your business users need help understanding what all this data exploration is tellingthem? No problem. “For business users or analysts who are not familiar with terms suchas ‘regression’ or ‘correlation,’ help is available,” said Marchi. “We’ve added a ‘WhatDoes It Mean’ feature to explain some of the terminology and help users understandwhat they’re seeing.” Click on the information icon, and a pop-up dialog box explainswhat the analysis has shown: for instance, that there is a correlation of -0.94, whichsuggests there’s a strong linear relationship between two variables. 7
  10. 10. SAS Conclusions PaperCreate Your Own Visual Reports and DashboardsOnce you’ve had a chance to visualize and explore your data, you’ll likely see something On-demand ‘What Does Itthat you want to share with someone else. Or you might want to generate a report Mean’ balloons give businessbased on the data you have been exploring. The SAS Visual Analytics Designer providesthe tools to create and distribute Web-based reports. users clear explanations of complex analytic functions,Through a graphical interface, report authors can get wizard-driven help for previewing, correlations and linearfiltering or sampling data before creating visualizations and reports. A variety of formatsare available: standard and three-dimensional bar charts with multiple lines, standard regressions in a language thatand three-dimensional pie charts, scatter plots, heat maps, bubble charts, and tile they can understand.charts – all with the option for annotated reference lines.The reports are dynamic and interactive, as Choy demonstrated. “I’ve just opened areport with three sections, looking at gross margin for product lines and categories overa range of years. I can click on 2011 to zero in on that year. Click a bar in the yearlygross margin chart to filter product line and product category gross margin – the othertwo segments of the screen display. I can select various product categories to filter onand get different information – or select a geography from the global filter.”Choy’s sample report had multiple tabs, each with unique sets of visualizations, allof them clickable to explore up or down a level in the hierarchy. With drag-and-dropsimplicity, report authors can define the interactions among visuals in a report, specifythe type and appearance of the report page, and add labels and annotation.Figure 3: Business users can create their own reports and dashboards using a highlyvisual workspace.8
  11. 11. How to Effectively Realize Data VisualizationPublish Information to the Web and Mobile DevicesDecision makers get the insights they need, when they need them, even when they’re “SAS’ strongest play withon the go. Reports are easily read via the Web or on an iPad using the SAS Mobile BI SAS Visual Analytics is toapp, a free iOS app available from the iTunes® App StoreSM. Native iPad support usesthe most popular gestures and capabilities, such as zoom, swipe, drag and drop, and supercharge its predictiveresizing objects on screen. Other mobile devices will be supported in the future. analytics capabilities. The time shift from hours to minutes“Executives or any mobile user can easily benefit from the interactive report viewingcapabilities,” said Marchi, demonstrating on her iPad the reports created earlier in promises to enable customersthe demo. “It is highly visual and very self-service for the user – and very simple. Just to do more analysis with moreopen the SAS Mobile BI app to see your portfolio of reports. Click on the library and data and greater accuracy thannavigate to a shared folder to look at reports and download new ones. Click ‘Subscribe’ ever before.”to download a report. The display shows thumbnails of the reports you subscribe to,which can be viewed at any time, even when offline.” Doug Henschen InformationWeek (SAS Introduces Big DataThe reports offer the same interactions between charts as Choy demonstrated in the Visual Analytics Platform, March 23, 2012)Designer toolbox. Reports can also be saved to PDF or PNG formats for printing.Figure 4: Get a quick, easy visual understanding of customers or operations on yourmobile device. 9
  12. 12. SAS Conclusions PaperClosing ThoughtsEven the most common descriptive statistics calculations can become complicated “With SAS Visual Analytics, youwhen you are dealing with big data. You don’t want to be restricted by column limits, can explore your data, discoverstorage constraints and the limited data type support of traditional data architectures.The answer is an in-memory engine that accelerates the tasks of data exploration and a new insights, generate reportsgraphical interface that displays the results in simple visualizations. and deliver the information to the people who need it, all from“Dealing with billions of records on a regular basis is just a reality of doing businesstoday, and SAS understands that,” said Marchi. “SAS Visual Analytics allows you a single solution. Whateverto explore all of your data using visual techniques combined with industry-leading your industry – retail, insurance,analytics. Visualizations such as box plots and correlation matrices help you quickly health care and life sciences, orunderstand the composition and relationships in your data.” financial services – SAS VisualLarge numbers of users, including those with limited analytical and technical skills, can Analytics can help.”quickly view and interact with reports via the Web or mobile devices, while IT maintains Justin Choycontrol of the underlying data and security. Global Product Management, Business Intelligence, SASThe net effect is the ability to accelerate the analytics life cycle and to perform theprocess more often, with more data – all the data, if that’s what best serves thepurpose. By using all data that is available, users can look at more options, make moreprecise decisions and succeed even faster than before. St ay Inf ormed Follow us on twitter: @sasanalytics Like us on Facebook: SAS Analytics To get fresh perspectives on customer analytics from marketing practitioners writing on the SAS® Customer Analytics blog: customeranalytics10
  13. 13. About SASSAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market.Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making betterdecisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW ® For more information on .SAS® Business Analytics software and services, visit SAS Institute Inc. World Headquarters   +1 919 677 8000 To contact your local SAS office, please visit: 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. Copyright © 2012, SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved. 105884_S87282_0812