What if?

Two simple words. A bold question. Driver of change and progress. Fuel for innovation.

“What if?” perfectly captures core values of the SAS culture: to be curious, forward-thinking and to challenge assumptions in solving problems.

Today, I would like to introduce to you the people behind four of our new technologies and share how their curiosity is at the heart of progress and how it transforms lives through analytics.

Saving lives 

I remember it like it was yesterday. One day last year, I received an email message that informed me that Jared Peterson, the young and talented software manager who runs SAS’ cognitive computing team, was in the hospital with what appeared to be a stroke.

That experience had a significant impact on the way Jared approached his life – and his work at SAS. Medical imaging played a huge role in saving his life. And coincidentally, his team at SAS has been working over the last few years on medical image processing in SAS® Viya®. Using his own MRI, Jared showed how SAS Viya can process and analyze images. Combined with predictive analytics, optimization and machine learning, we can glean new insights in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Watch the demo below to see how our technology helps provide answers.

Overcoming challenges

Jared had one MRI file, and the information in it saved his life. Now imagine the medical professional or hospital who has to manage tens, hundreds or thousands of these files. Data sets full of records of different origin and quality, full of personal information and metadata subject to privacy regulations. Data wrangling, merging and cleansing can be a challenge. That is where Senior Software Development Manager Nancy Rausch shines.

Nancy enjoys competing in triathlons and charity bike rides, in part to stay healthy – but mostly because she enjoys the challenge. At SAS, Nancy brings that same energy to solving problems in data management. Her team created SAS Data Preparation, which uses machine learning, pattern detection, artificial intelligence (AI) and recommendations to automate and simplify data preparation. The result is less time spent on preparing higher-quality data and more time for data scientists to develop quality models from quality data. It is a great example of augmenting our capabilities through AI.

See the solution in action in the demo below.

Making smarter decisions

Senior Manager of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Ilknur Kabul works to find creative solutions to business problems through machine learning, advanced analytics and AI. Ilknur’s team was curious about how we can use modern clustering methods to better understand the factors that drive customer behavior in high-dimensional big data problems. They then applied reinforcement learning to train a system to optimize return from marketing campaigns. A static, rule-based system was no match for the AI system that was first trained on historical data and continued to learn online.

Check out the technology in the demo below.

Increasing accessibility

Like all technology, AI is assistive technology. Maybe at some point we will think of AI not as “artificial intelligence,” but as “assistive information” technology. AI augments us; technology drives inclusion and accessibility.

Ed Summers is visually impaired and leads our accessibility and applied assistive technology team at SAS. The newest technology his team created enables accessible reporting with SAS Visual Analytics and SAS Mobile BI on devices like the iPhone. Ed has not seen a chart or graph with his eyes in 14 years. But the technology his team created is helping people of all abilities interact with data in a whole new way.

Watch the demo below and hear for yourself.

Why it matters

Our mission is to empower and inspire with the most trusted analytics. We believe that analytics is transformative technology and that we can improve lives through analytics.

We commit time and resources to areas we believe will make a lasting, positive impact in the world. In 2017, SAS reinvested 26 percent of revenue into research and development, about twice as much as major tech companies.

The desire to get better at something that matters deeply and the yearning to work in the service of something bigger than us are intrinsic motivators that unleash the curious energy of our developers and fuel innovation. For Dan Pink, it is part of the new operating system for businesses. I totally agree!


About Author

Oliver Schabenberger

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer

Oliver Schabenberger executes the company’s strategic objectives and business priorities as well as sets the technology direction for SAS. Together with SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, he helps shape SAS’ vision and keep the company at the forefront of innovation so that customers have access to the technology and services they need to be successful.

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