A few years ago I volunteered to work for the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter. It was an effort to help revive a group that was in the doldrums, and It’s also where I first got to know Ryan Adams. Later that year I met Ryan in person at SQL Rally in Dallas where we talked about an idea he had – to create a full day event of virtual sessions on SQL Server performance. Today, that event is known as the Performance Palooza. It was held for the 4th time in July earlier this year and has built a fantastic following, with nearly 2,800 attendees tuning in to the 8 sessions presented.
The Palooza is an event that personifies Ryan’s commitment to PASS and it’s values. The delivery of education on SQL Server related topics to so much of PASS’ membership, along with the people connections made around the world via these events, is the type of thing that has helped PASS grow and prosper. It’s volunteers like Ryan that make this happen, yet this is just one of Ryan many roles with PASS. He’s a user’s group board member, SQL Saturday organizer, a regional mentor, frequent speaker, and more.
This is why I’m voting for Ryan and encourage you to do so also. Ryan is running for the PASS Board of Directors and elections are upon us. Ryan does as much for PASS as anyone I know, and his straightforward manner, relentless involvement, and common sense approach will make him a great director. You can read more about Ryan on his candidate page. I have no doubt that Ryan will be a great addition to the board.
Starting something new is hard. An exercise regimen, a diet, studying for certification exams. Getting to the finish and attaining the desired goal is even harder. Completing a predictive analytics initiative is no different and the first one is particularly hard.
You’ve spent time on research, reading and investigation, and you see the upside. You know there can be a high return on investment, and a successful outcome can change the culture of your organization. But you’re a DBA, a BI practitioner or analyst and predictive analytics is new to you and your company. You want to ensure success but how do you go about it to make sure it works?
There are characteristics that successful initiatives have in common, and the ones listed here are what I’ve seen lead to success.
Tightly couple the team with BI
The predictive analytics initiative should be part of the BI team, or work very closely with it. Why? The BI team knows where the data is, how to get it, understands its quality, and has already acquired much of it. There will be some data needed that BI people don’t care about, but 80% of it will overlap.
Hire a Data Scientist or assign the role
Make someone the data scientist, either by title or role. You’ll have to decide whether to bring them in from outside the organization, or assign someone with the essential skills, but make sure the role is occupied.
Buy, Open Source, or use what you own
Don’t get hung up on which tools to use. There are many good tools out there and you probably already own some of them, so use what you know and have. Do you have to use R to be successful? No, although much of what you read makes it sound like you do. But also consider which open source tools may help augment your development suite.
Choose a Focused Goal
Make the first initiative you pursue focused on trying to solve a single problem. This is true of most of BI development. We shouldn’t build a whole data warehouse in one shot, don’t try to solve every predictive problem out there. And choose one management will get behind, like churn or upselling.
Give it Time
To get good results requires time. It takes anywhere from 4-12 months to put a solutions into production.
All the parts that go into a successful initiative will be covered at my pre-con at the PASS Summit titled Predictive Analytics in the Enterprise.
SQL Saturday is coming this weekend in Baton Rouge, LA and I’m presenting a full day pre-con on Friday on Predictive Analytics. It’s a full day deep dive on how to start using Predictive Analytics in your organization, and ideal for people who are brand new to the field.
What should you expect in a full day session like this, besides singing, dancing and a few jokes?
To give you an idea as to what’s covered, here’s an outline of the agenda for the day. I hope you can make it, and there is still time to register by clicking on this link:
- Predictive Modeling Overview
- SQL Server Data Mining, Analysis Service and Excel
- Predictive Model by Class
- Case Studies
- Tools and Algorithms
- Demo\Lab 1 – Develop Hiring Model
- Use Models with DMX – C#, SSIS, SSRS
- Demo\Lab 2 – Develop College Model
- Demo – Neural Network Code
- Exercise 1 – Develop Churn Model
- Demo 3 – Discuss alternative tools such as R, WEKA, RapidMiner
- Deployment and Monitoring
- Exercise 2 – Develop Movie Recommendation Model
- Exercise 3 – Develop Stock Price Prediction Model