Social networks to augment analytics

Social networks to augment analytics

Summary: Relational links between people are being applied to refine business analytic findings and reduce rate of false positives, says SAS executive.

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SINGAPORE--New social networking techniques are being applied to refine business analytics findings, an SAS executive demonstrated.

John Brocklebank, head of SAS advanced analytics laboratory, announced at a media session Wednesday, availability of the company's social network analysis product in the Asia-Pacific region.

He gave a demonstration of a set of customers linked in different ways, enabling customer-reliant organizations such as banks and telcos, the ability to predict behavioral patterns from this data. Banks could potentially identify fraudulent accounts as they are created, before they strike, he said.

Social links also help reduce the rate of false positives of traditional analytic methodologies, he noted. Examples of older techniques include applying predictive equations to customer data and using business rules such as spending behavior, which raise flags when events are triggered.

And today's online behavior provides a wealth of data for companies to mine. "Today's interconnected world generates mind-boggling data volumes," said David Hughes, SAS Asia-Pacific vice president. Companies can use data from sources such as blogs and Twitter to understand customer likes and dislikes, he said.

Business analytics not business intelligence
Jim Davis, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, SAS, said at this morning's session, business intelligence is an "overused" term, and has functioned as a "catch-all" to describe reporting tools.

"It's had its day. It's served its purpose. The future is in business analytics," he said.

He went on to say companies should examine their analytics deployments, to see where they are in terms of maturity.

This was ranked from the most basic reports, which collect answers from questionnaires, to predictive and optimized data at the top end. Companies that have invested in systems which trigger alerts and measure data only serve to report on past activity. "The last thing to do in this market is be reactive," said Davis.

He differentiated this pool of analytics tools from the next level, which involves forecasting and predictive modeling. These allow companies to wade through possible roadblocks, he said.

SAS expands in Asia
Mikael Hagstrom, SAS executive vice president of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, Africa) and Asia-Pacific, also announced the company's plans to spend US$200 million this year to upgrade and expand its Asia-Pacific offices. This will cover countries such as China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

Hagstrom said the company is investing more in the Asia-Pacific region than in other regions.

Hughes said this is in anticipation of further growth in the region, adding that the company added 190 new customers in the region this year. Business in Vietnam grew by 119 percent in 2008, he said.

Interest in business analytics has been fueled by economic uncertainty, he said. "Gut feel is not good enough. The volatility and uncertainty in the market [is] making analytics important as a result."

This uncertainty, however, might see the public sector driving more spending in analytics as compared to the financial services industry (FSI). Both sectors form SAS's largest customer base in Asia, said Hughes.

"We are seeing increased focus from the public sector because of the uncertain times. This is [expected to] make up for some shortfall from the FSI when SAS tallies up the score at the end of the year," he said.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Networking

Victoria Ho

About Victoria Ho

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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