Enthusiastic SAS Global Forum users flocked to the SAS Business Intelligence Development Roundtable for an interactive panel discussion on the current BI and reporting solutions portfolio including SAS Enterprise BI Server, SAS Enterprise Guide, SAS Mobile BI and SAS Visual Analytics and the future focus of the products.
Panelists included SAS representatives from Product Management and BI R&D:
- Product Management Director Greg Hodges
- Business Intelligence Research & Development Vice President Stuart Nisbet
- Software Development Manager James Holman
- Research and Development Senior Director Oita Coleman
R&D Project and Program Management Manager Tammi Kay George moderated the discussion and delved into user-focused topics such as how to decide which product to use when, deployment and implementation best practices, and guidance on strategies to add Visual Analytics to customers’ mix of SAS solutions. Product Management also shared high-level roadmaps that covered the product portfolio.
A theme quickly developed among the panelists: We listened. We improved. We made it easy.
“One of the highlights of my career is to come to SAS Global Forum every year, talk to the users and hear their feedback,” said Nisbet. “SAS is committed to helping users’ businesses make better decisions.”
Hodges told users that SAS’ primary responsibility is to work with them and implement their feedback. “It’s democratization of analytics,” he said. “Analytics is hard, but results don’t need to be hard for users to consume. There are complex algorithms running behind the scenes, but users just need to be able to right click. Analytics are at our roots and collaborate to bring what we’ve learned to a broader audience of people.”
Colman joked, “They asked us if we had enough room at the small [discussion]table.”
She said, “We’re like this all the time. We’re close. Agile methodology forces communication about what are we going to deliver to the customer.”
Adoption of Agile Methodology
George prompted a discussion on the adoption of the agile methodology and the communication and partnership with expert peers and fleshing out ideas. “Conversation and collaboration is great to see,” she said.
“We looked at the English term for agile as we transitioned into the adoption,” said Nisbet. “We are coming out with releases much more quickly and targeted functionality to meet user needs. We are striving to make analytics approachable. Our goal is to deliver capability so users can consume it easily.”
Coleman highlighted the future focus of the Enterprise BI Server.
“In the next release in June, there will be major improvements,” she said, “There will be improved browser support, an embedded web application server, backup and restore for metadata, mobile app integration, totals and subtotals, improved language support, pie chart improvements, application theme support, flex capabilities and location recognition.”
Coleman kept with the theme of the discussion explaining that all improvements are from user feedback.
Nisbet also added that their team is investing heavily in this suite, providing new technologies and giving users a new path.
Visual Analytics Highlights
Focus areas for SAS Visual Analytics include:
- Providing “what if” analysis.
- Easier implementation for customers to get variability.
- Flexibility with linking content.
- Easy collaboration with colleagues.
- Enterprise capabilities.
- Intuitive security.
SAS 9.4 Platform
“We want the customer’s experience with 9.4 to be an easy one,” said Hodges. “You don’t have to make choices, we provide it.”
There are 200 new features. One new feature is the integration of Microsoft Word to make it easier to consume and not difficult to manage.