Having just returned from a whirlwind week in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada, I want to share with you a few of the many news and impressions from our biggest event of the year.
First of all, we were excited to welcome customers, partners and SAS employees to the largest SAS Global Forum ever! More than 5000 attendees assembled at the impressive Venetian Hotel: It is one of the largest hotels in the world and we had a fantastic venue for the forum’s 350 hours of content, 550 sessions, and many opportunities to network.
The Nordics were strongly represented with the third largest group of 250 participants, falling behind only the American and Canadian delegations in numbers.
Participants from all over the world had the opportunity to hear cutting-edge cases from Nordic companies such as Danica Pension, Statistics Sweden, Telenor, The Norwegian Seafood Council and Veikkaus. Our Nordic delegation could participate in a sightseeing trip to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, in addition to participate in a Nordic dinner. It was great to see new connections made and old ones confirmed once again!
New, more customer-oriented and connected to the IoT
So, what were the big news, we were able to experience during this year’s SAS Global Forum? For me, there were three major new announcements:
- We are going live with a completely new architecture, SAS® Viya
- The new SAS® Customer Intelligence 360 solution
- SAS® Analytics for IoT
SAS® Viya is a big deal because it is the new SAS architecture built for the future for both cloud and on-premise deployments. SAS is building on our unique foundation of expertise to deliver the most powerful and adaptable analytics platform available anywhere. My impression is that there was really good reception from customers, and I see the move to SAS Viya as a logical step due to the rapid changes in technology we are experiencing. With SAS Viya, SAS is also opening up to more third party technologies, which is great news for customers who want to leverage existing skill-sets when using SAS analytics, including languages like Python, Lua and Java. Learn more about SAS Viya
SAS® Customer Intelligence 360: The new SAS® Customer Intelligence solution 6.5, launched along with SAS Customer Intelligence 360, is a completely new product. It builds on the Customer Decision Hub concept and allows marketers to guide the customer journey as it happens. It helps marketers create a complete profile from disparage data, serving digital departments and helps optimize customer messaging and offers. The CI solution will be a great leap in helping companies increase loyalty in a cloud-based solution. Learn more
SAS® Analytics for IoT: SAS is really bringing analytics offerings to the market: IoT creates a lot of data, and long before IoT became trendy, SAS was analyzing data from sensors and other devices. With the launch of SAS Analytics for IoT, we can collect data and analyze millions of events per second. An example is to look at the idea of Smart Cities – modern cities generate all kinds of services and related data within areas like public safety, healthcare and water. This allows you to organize the data and pick out the relevant information and understand which actions to take in order to improve a specific area.
Another wealth of exciting IoT possibilities come from the Intel collaboration. SAS brings the IoT analytics offerings to market as a strategic partner in Intel’s Internet of Things Solution Alliance. Intel’s slogan is “Intel inside, smart manufacturing outside”. For example, it will be possible to place an Intel card in cars and predict issues in the fleet before failures occur using SAS software on the device in the car and provide new value added services. When you need to analyze a situation, it will be analyzed right on the chip with SAS® Software. This is analytics close to the origin of the data; it is on the edge. Get inspired
The SAS® 9.4 platform you know – with more “bells and whistles”
However – most of our clients attending SAS Global Forum were there to hear about the existing products and services they have come to know and trust, within the SAS 9.4 software suite. Both within Analytics, BI, Data Management, Risk, and Customer Intelligence there were lots of new things to experience, and the majority of the 550 sessions were centered on these. Among the highlights from the existing products were:
Analytics: SAS continues to provide analytic innovation on the SAS 9.4 platform – improving scale and speed along the way. SAS® Studio, our web-based interface that comes with SAS® Base, continues to address the analytical needs of everyone. We are releasing SAS® Factory Miner 14.1 – this product provides modern machine learning algorithms and large-scale automation models, enabling clients to distribute models to a larger user group in the company. SAS® Enterprise Miner 14.1 brings new machine learning methods and open source integration (PMML 4.2, R, Python) with continued technology advancement (for Hadoop and MapR). SAS® Forecast Server 14.1 provides a more modern web-based interface with custom code, tracking, multi-stage modelling and segmentation via demand classification.
BI: SAS® Visual Analytics 7.3 includes the HTML5 report viewer, also known as the modern viewer. It provides an intuitive, self-service approach for data preparation, analysis and collaborative sharing of results. Visually explore and interact with both structured and text data – of any size from any source – to spot patterns and identify relationships.
Data Management: I think that the main new thing for SAS® Data management is the SAS® Event Stream Processing 3.2 as well as the SAS® Data Loader for Hadoop. It is important because it opens up for SAS accessing more data, including IoT data. SAS knows that clean and correct data is key to deriving good analytical insights. With our updates focused across all Data Management technologies, we continue to focus on the entire analytics lifecycle.
Risk Management: We have streamlined products and improved scalability across the product suite.
Product demo’s and cutting edge student projects
Between the many announcements and exciting plenary speakers at SAS Global Forum, there was time to visit the many workshops and also “The Quad”, the demo area where we can go ask developers and product managers, speak with real experts about the products and the future directions, and see the future product releases. The atmosphere was great and I met many attendees who came back excited and said “oh, I learned a lot about this specific code, how to do this installation”, and so on. It is a great feeling when you can see the shared knowledge of customers, partners and SAS employees growing in real time!
I also want to mention the academic forums, where students from around the world competed with their SAS solutions based on our free-of-cost SAS® University Edition software. The winning team was from the US. This year, we did not see Nordic participation and I really hope this will happen in the future.
Once again, I have come back full of inspiration and excitement about our great SAS community and if you were there, I hope you can recognize the sentiment. If you were not able to attend, I hope you will go here to find whitepapers, presentations and much more, and we will also soon be sharing these in the local Nordic SAS Forums and SAS user groups.
Whether or not we met in Vegas, there is another opportunity in the fall when the next line of SAS Nordic Forum events roll around. They are set for September 29 in Norway, October 4 in Sweden, October 5 and 6 in Finland, and October 13 in Denmark.
And for those of you that already want to start planning for the next SAS Global Forum, it will take place in Orlando, Florida from April 2 to April 5 2017.
Hope to see you there!