An analytics revolution underway: Insights from Analytics Experience 2016

“What we are experiencing from analytics today is nothing short of a revolution.” SAS CEO Jim Goodnight at Analytics Experience 2016

“What we are experiencing from analytics today is nothing short of a revolution,” said CEO Jim Goodnight, who spoke at Analytics Experience 2016 and set the stage for the conference’s executive panel. “Right now, my primary mission is to ensure people understand the limitless possibilities that lie before us, given the power of analytics.”

After decades of growth, the field of analytics has truly arrived, maturing into a discipline deeply embedded into all of the best decision making. The executive panel, which was moderated by Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Randy Guard, took a deep dive into analytics and what it will take for companies to move from the promise of analytics into the reality of its competitive advantage.

Here are some of the highlights from the session.

SAS® Viya™ answers the call

Goodnight opened the discussion with a commitment to be there for SAS® users, ensuring they receive the best analytics has to offer. “Your challenge is to pick a technology that can grow and meet your demands without having to rebuild each time the landscape changes,” said Goodnight. “You can confidently take that step forward with SAS Viya.”

Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Oliver Schabenberger explained that the SAS Viya platform was built like everything else SAS has created – directly in response to the requests and needs of our customers.

“You asked for more flexibility, resiliency, elasticity, scale and openness to build upon,” he said. “We heard you and we’ve acted, by moving to the cloud and amplifying what we do with analytics that operates from one common platform.”

Openness, an essential component of SAS Viya, is an expectation from customers; it offers them the freedom to build. “Customers struggle managing the analytics lifecycle and governing data,” Schabenberger said. “The centrality of SAS Viya allows you to have one data model, one security model, one platform to perform analytics, and one happy family because people can use the language of their choice.”

The future of analytics: machine learning and cognitive computing

The area of machine learning isn’t new for SAS. Non-linear models – a primary component of machine learning – have been part of SAS® software for the last 35 years. Today, machine learning is taking what statisticians have done for years and expanding its capabilities further. While SAS already has a footprint into machine learning, Goodnight explained there is still a great deal of research and development underway to increase those capabilities. “We want to be able to forecast fourth-quarter sales or estimate crop yield for soybeans in the Midwest,” he said. “It takes a great deal of work to mimic the human brain, but we are making great strides in seeing this idea turn into reality.”

Levi Strauss & Co.: A 160-year old startup company

Levi Strauss & Co is a huge retail operation, doing business in more than 100 countries. And while Levi Strauss stands as an established brand, its Chief Information Officer, Roland Paanakker, explained that the company is busy reinventing itself and how it does business.

“Technology is becoming essential to understanding how we make our products, where we make our products, how we reach our consumer and the way in which we tailor their experience,” said Paanakker. “We cannot do any of this without analytics, so we basically have to think of ourselves as a 160-year old startup.”

For a company like Levi Strauss, openness is invaluable to providing agility and decreasing the possibility of being locked in. With SAS’ open capabilities, Levi Strauss has the speed and flexibility needed to go to market, and at the same time, has stronger legs to stand on when it comes to acquiring and retaining talent.

Paanakker’s look at where Levi Strauss is today and how SAS is helping it move into the future, confirms that SAS Viya answers the call to what customers want from analytics today. “It’s a fascinating and great time to be in technology,” said Schabenberger.

View the full talk – Executive Viewpoint: Achieving the New Possible.

View more talks from Analytics Experience 2016.


About Author

Anjelica Cummings

Manager, Social Innovation Programs, Partnerships and Communications

Anjelica Cummings manages SAS' Social Innovation programs, partnerships and communications strategy. She is responsible for leading a senior team of experts who bring SAS' analytics and advocacy efforts together. The Social Innovation programs and partnerships apply SAS® technology toward the world's most pressing needs. Anjelica brings a decade of communications experiences to her role. Over the years she has developed, led and implemented strategic communications programs for dozens of national organizations. Whether it's a strategy designed for the media, customers, partners, employees or the community, Anjelica believes the fundamentals of communications remain the same: To bring greater understanding, visibility and connection to the issues that matter most. She is a guest lecturer for North Carolina State University and a former board member of the International Association of Business Communicators.

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