2012

SAS Factory Miner

Background

This is definitely a favorite project from my tenure at SAS. When you work at consultancies for many years, you grow accustomed to letting go of things. You do a lot of work, give it back to the customer, and move on to the next thing. While the variety is nice, the sense of ownership is just not there.

I saw Factory Miner from conception to launch. It is still on the market and selling very well. This was an early HTML5 product for SAS (the prior generation of web applications were Flash). As a result, I got to work on interaction patterns that were applied across the portfolio.

When generating predictive models, a common practice is to segment your data first in order to produce different models for different segments of your population. Factory Miner allowed you to do this on steroids. It would produce many models for hundreds or thousands of segments and tell you which one was the best (champion).

Designing a solution to this complex problem took many iterations. This is the project on which I truly started building HTML prototypes and iterating on ideas in the browser. Even if the prototypes were rough, they provided enough semblance of a user's flow to gather input from key stakeholders.

Once we landed on a decent flow, we did extensive usability testing. Because Factory Miner appeals to a pretty specific user base (data scientists or business analysts with knowledge of statistics) we recruited people from inside SAS.

Two key pieces of information came out of the usability sessions: one around the construction of model templates and how to best represent nodes that were not being used; the second around overflow menus. We ended up flipping our overflow menus to use a horizontal ellipsis in order to make them stand out more. Factory Miner has a lot of complex actions that can't be represented by an icon and this change helped considerably.

Screens

SAS Factory Miner SAS Factory Miner SAS Factory Miner SAS Factory Miner SAS Factory Miner

Fate

You can read all about this product at sas.com including demos and screenshots.