Are you learning what future employers are really looking for?

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Did you know that…

  • Scientists have concluded that the chicken came first, not the egg, because the protein which makes the egg shells is only produced by hens. Source
  • A toaster uses almost half as much energy as a full-sized oven. Source
  • The London Eye in England is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, standing at a height of 135 metres (442 feet). Source
  • Ancient Babylonians did math in base 60 instead of base 10. That's why we have 60 seconds in a minute and 360 degrees in a circle. Source

These are some fun STEM facts, which demonstrate how science, technology, engineering and Mathematics have always had a big impact in our lives. Technology moves at a steady pace, but there is a shortage in the workforce and a skills gap in analytics. It’s one of the main challenges our society is facing today.

The job market is struggling to attract young people with STEM prowess. That’s why Education plays such an important role for our next generation. Parents and Schools need to continue introducing kids at an early stage into this fun world that will lead them to exciting career opportunities. We at SAS also support the teaching of STEM subject in schools – This project is called SAS Curriculum Pathways and is available at no cost.

After school, many students enroll in a STEM university degree programs which will allow them to gain a wide range of soft and hard skills. Many of them enjoy using open source technologies such as Python, R, Java, Spark or SAS because these are free (whether it is about University or their personal home usage), and easy to acquire. The ability to program and be numerically skilled is a great outcome.

But, how easy is it for graduates to apply their open source skills to real world industry problems?

Firms out there generally care less about what technology is used, as long as it helps them achieve their business goals. Thus, we can be more precise and perhaps state that technology can be easily seen merely as an enabler to a higher goal, e.g. better margins, higher profits, improved customer experience, etc. This means that what really matters is that whatever software they may choose, it has to be fully scalable, easy-to-access, have fast functionalities, warranted and perhaps even regulated.

Any piece of technology, whether software or hardware, will come with a cost. With the surge of open source, many executives thought to finally liberate their firms from tech, specifically analytics and data science, investments – this could not be further from the truth.

Open source technologies are often used in niche areas in companies where innovation and “the latest fashionable technique” can be evaluated. But, implementing any new found innovation into the organisation is where the problems often begin. With open source, how reliable are the findings, and can the business afford the operational risk of non-warranted software and results?

Companies need to receive consistent results from their software, as these results have big financial, reputational and risk implications, be it a credit decision, drug research results, marketing decision or a price for a consumer. Open source can be unreliable, untested and inconsistent in the quality of the algorithms and models that are available.

Equally important is for any firm to understand where the analytical knowledge resides, how to ensure its continuity and how to integrate solutions with existing hardware/software/applications. Open source provides a solution that is built bottom-up, which regardless of how accurate, rich or well-orchestrated, is still dependent on the unique ability of one person, hence it is not very easily transferable (for example if the analysts abruptly leaves). Continuity is often a problem, and a new analyst may as well think of re-developing the solution from scratch – a huge mistake in nowadays economic climate. Lastly, open source programming languages do at times struggle to integrate with other solutions firms may use to deliver products and services.

Globally there are regulations and laws with heavy penalties that organisations have to abide by, such as IFRS9 in finance, BCBS239 (banking), FDA standards for Food and Drug Administration, and GDPR for General Data Protection Regulation. All of these regulations are easier to meet, or in some cases can only be met, through the use of warranted software. SAS is used to provide a governed framework for analytical model development and deployment, with data security at its core. This results in an efficient and effective and low risk environment that can be easily audited by a regulator.

Also, in some industries the data volumes are huge and real world problems can be a world away from what was taught in a classroom, or a college lecture.

One particular SAS customer sets new graduate recruits a project with real large volumes of data, and allows them to choose whatever software they wish to solve the problem and deliver the results of the project.

Inevitably the students fail as they have never been exposed to such large volumes of data as those found in telecoms and retail, and running 1 billion records through R or python on your laptop is going to take a while. When graduates are taught SAS, and how to deliver the solution with SAS, they have to do less coding, are more productive and their work is easier to audit.

How SAS is helping Academia and Industry

The latest versions of SAS provide drag and drop tools working against a highly scalable MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) and in-memory engine. With SAS 9.4 which is available in the University Edition – free software for students, academics, and independent learners. Many Universities are also using SAS as a teaching resource to ensure that graduates are skilled in the technologies widely used in industry.

Looking to the future in 2017, SAS is also releasing SAS Viya which supports further collaboration, enabling integration with many different analytics languages such as Python, Java and Lua into the SAS environment.

Data scientists and coders not familiar with SAS can still use Viya, without having to learn SAS code. The open nature of SAS Viya means people can remain in their comfort zone and use the tools they’ve always used and benefit from the speed and resiliency of SAS Viya.

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About Author

Mayra Pedraza

Associate Briefing Program Specialist, Marketing Executive

Mayra is a Marketing Specialist for the Academic Programme at SAS UK, she develops the brand awareness across the whole UK & Ireland student community. She joined SAS in January 2016 as an intern. Mayra manages the UK Academic social media platforms to share ideas and support other SAS users, she also creates events and sessions which contribute to engage more students into the analytics world.

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