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Analytics Magazine

Industry News: March/April 2018

Frontline Systems releases Analytic Solver V2018 for Excel

Frontline Systems, developer of the Solver in Microsoft Excel, recently released Analytic Solver V2018, its full product line of predictive and prescriptive analytics tools that work in Microsoft Excel. The new release includes a visual editor for multi-stage “data science workflows” (also called “pipelines”) that may include data sampling, transformations, partitioning, training and evaluating machine learning models, and scoring new data.

“By making it easy to create data science workflows in Excel, we’ve further lowered the complexity and cost of doing predictive and prescriptive analytics for business analysts who aren’t data scientists,” says Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s president and CEO.

Analytic Solver V2018 is the latest generation of Frontline Solvers, which began 26 years ago with the Solver in Excel 3.0, a general-purpose optimization tool that Frontline Systems developed for Microsoft. Today, the Analytic Solver product line spans the desktop and cloud, supports Excel, Tableau and Power BI, and includes comprehensive tools for predictive and prescriptive analytics – from forecasting and data mining to simulation and risk analysis, and conventional and stochastic optimization. Its new data science workflows bring capabilities featured in other “enterprise analytics” tools to every Excel user.

Frontline has enabled more than 8,500 organizations, over 25 years, to gain real “business results today” from analytics. Frontline has delivered tools to work with data from large databases and Apache Spark Big Data clusters, and to routinely optimize models with hundreds of thousands or even millions of simultaneous decisions, “point and click” in Excel.

Using the new Workflow tab in Analytic Solver V2018, users can easily create multi-stage “data science workflows” that may include steps such as data sampling, transformations, partitioning, training and evaluating machine learning models, and scoring new data. They can either “drag and drop” icons for each step, connected via arrows on a visual canvas, or they can simply turn on a “recording” feature, carry out each step using Analytic Solver’s existing menu options and dialogs, and the workflow diagram will be created automatically. Each step is linked to an Excel worksheet where results can be inspected.

A single button click is sufficient to re-run the entire workflow on existing data. A new “Map Features” icon allows a user to connect a new data set to the front of the workflow, mapping the initially-used data (variables or features) to the new data; then the entire workflow, including training and evaluation of machine learning models, can be executed automatically on the new data.

FICO opens Xpress Mosel Programming Language to all

FICO recently announced that Xpress Mosel, the most flexible optimization modeling, analytic orchestration and programming language, is now open and free to use. With this release, anyone can create optimization models to solve problems more efficiently and make better business decisions based on data.

“FICO is deeply committed to advancing the field of mathematical optimization,” says Oliver Bastert, vice president of optimization product management, FICO. “From the boardroom to the classroom, Xpress Mosel brings significant benefits to any optimization project, which is why we wanted to make it publicly accessible. Now anyone can employ the same technology that optimizes operations for global brands such as Southwest Airlines, Honeywell and Nestle.”

As the core of all FICO Optimization solutions, Xpress Mosel serves as the glue that connects business users with data and advanced machine learning/artificial intelligence capabilities. It enables users to rapidly develop and deploy optimization solutions that solve complex, real-world business and customer engagement challenges. Now, by enabling open connections to third-party solvers beyond the FICO Xpress Solver, optimization professionals may choose their solver technology based on their specific problem characteristics or personal preferences.

“Xpress Mosel gives more power to the developer to create better optimization models in less time. Unlike other solutions on the market, Xpress Mosel allows for every single aspect of the model to be developed and maintained within its development environment. It is a complete modelling and programming language in one,” says Nejat Karabakal, vice president of applied research, Llamasoft.

Pitney Bowes simplifies, accelerates data accessibility with ‘Marketplace’

Pitney Bowes Inc. recently announced the global availability of its new “Software and Data Marketplace,” simplifying access to hundreds of data sets across the retail, insurance, real estate and financial services industries.

The Software and Data Marketplace is a self-service resource for data users to download Pitney Bowes’ data catalog for sample categorical data, such as address, boundary, demographic, geoenrichment, point of interest and street data in a matter of minutes. Additionally, a software development kit is available through the Marketplace, which allows users to receive their products and updates automatically.

“Clients tell us that accessing good, clean and accurate data is a priority for analysis, insight and faster time-to-value. However, the process of sourcing, cleansing and managing that data is often tedious, time-consuming and costly for most organizations,” says Bob Guidotti, executive vice president of Pitney Bowes. “By establishing the Software and Data Marketplace, we are removing the complexities clients face by enabling access to the portfolio of location, individual and address-centric data we’ve amassed from a century’s worth of mail-based data streams and making it readily available and interoperable for critical business functions.”

According to the December 2017 study, “Digital Is Driving the Next Generation of Data Marketplaces,” commissioned by Pitney Bowes and conducted by Forrester Consulting, 99 percent of businesses have trouble accessing data; 70 percent have trouble detecting changes in data; 92 percent need to increase use of third-party data due to the rise of digital technologies and interactions; and 99 percent say they would make a data purchase online.

Many organizations now view data as a catalyst to growth and key to their digital transformation initiatives. Because of this, data marketplaces are seen by business leaders as a way to act contextually, confidently and quickly. The new Software and Data Marketplace provides organizations uninhibited access to reliable data relevant to their industry. For example, insurance providers can visualize sample data around properties to better assess risk for accurate underwriting; financial services providers can review demographic and location-based data to identify areas with the highest growth potential; and retailers can assess street, demographics and points of interest data to plan store locations and maximize go-to-market channels.

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