This year, SAS Innovate in Orlando brought executives and other industry luminaries together to inspire attendees to use analytics to outpace tomorrow.

Chief Marketing Officer Jenn Chase, who hosted the event, shared on social media the exhilarating experience of being at SAS' first large-scale, fully live and in-person event in over four years.

"This was our return to a fully live and in-person event, and it reminded me – and I know many others, too – how much I missed face-to-face collaboration." Chase said. "From the insightful presentations on leadership to the inspiring words on fostering a culture of innovation, this event was a transformative experience that left an indelible mark on all who attended."

SAS Innovate in Orlando was a great blend of fun and networking. While SAS Innovate has now shifted to Europe, take a moment to enjoy some photos from SAS Innovate in Orlando before we embark further on the Innovate Tour:

Day one of the event kicked off with a vibrant welcome reception. Colleagues, old friends and new networked, strategized and posed for many photos, an evening highlight.

During the opening session on day two, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight and other executives shared how organizations worldwide can respond to disruptions affecting our health, environment, financial stability and society.

"Over the last few years, we've been tested in unexpected ways: from a pandemic to stressed supply chains and workforce shortages to financial instability in the banking industry," said Goodnight after being welcomed to the main stage. "And through this experience, we’ve gained a new appreciation for resiliency. We’ve seen firsthand the importance of operating with speed and agility. "

Chief Technology Officer Bryan Harris took attendees on a deep dive into the latest state-of-the-art innovation from SAS. He and other SAS leaders explored how SAS® Viya® is helping organizations worldwide to stay ahead of change and transform their data into catalysts for growth and innovation.

"We run wherever our customers need us: in the cloud of their choice, on-premises, or at the edge," Harris said. "We have the fastest, most productive AI and analytics platform in the market."

Reggie Townsend, VP of the Data Ethics Practice at SAS, shared his thoughts on social media about the event.

"Honored to have the opportunity to speak again at an event that truly raised the bar! It was top-notch in every way," Townsend said. "It brought together the best of technology, business strategy, and tech policy, creating the perfect intersection for innovation."

Beyond a mix of leaders from every industry, hall-of-fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and best-selling author Michael Lewis inspired many with their words.

Lewis sat with Chase to discuss sports analytics, Wall Street, and human nature. In their chat, Chase brought up his best-selling book Moneyball, a book Chase says is "about baseball but it was about so much more."

"At SAS, we love that it brought data and analytics to the public eye," Chase continued.

Lewis agreed, saying the book to him was about even more. "Forget it's baseball," said Lewis. "It's about getting below the surface to see the value of the athlete beyond appearance. Bottomline, it's about how we misvalue people. Data and analytics enables you to get to the true value of a human being."

Krzyzewski captivated the crowd during his keynote speech, discussing his three pillars of leadership – agility, adaptability and accountability. He then added a fourth: attitude. Chase shared her thoughts about the hall of famer's words on social media. 

"A positive yet realistic attitude is a valuable attribute in a leader. These qualities are essential for leaders on and off the basketball court," Chase said. "They help us to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of business and technology. In an era of rapid transformation, leaders must embrace agility to respond quickly to changing circumstances, adaptability to embrace innovation, and accountability to foster a culture of excellence."

Lewis and Krzyzewski encouraged the crowd to learn from their experiences and lessons from sports and life that can apply to organizational resilience.

During the second day of SAS Innovate in Orlando, attendees had the opportunity to attend various industry sessions, unwind, and engage in games and other activities. Many seized the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Hotel.

The Innovation Hub was a big attraction for attendees, displaying cutting-edge analytics and AI technology. Attendees then participated in roundtable discussions led by business leaders on responsible innovation, financial services, personalization, healthcare, supply chain and more.

For example, Davis Wu, Global Lead of Demand Planning and Analytics at Nestlé S.A. presented demand planning tips to listeners and showed how his organization gets it done. Wu also shared how Nestlé divides its demand planning and time-series analysis work.

Wu encourages his demand planning team to tell data-driven stories. "Demand planners must be able to convince cross-functional partners that their forecast is useful," says Wu. "They must articulate a convincing story about what is happening, what is the prediction, and what can we do better, including scenario planning."

On the final day of the event, SAS CIO Jay Upchurch started the closing session with a panel discussion supported by Ulta and JP Morgan Chase leaders. The four discussed the value of partnering with SAS for AI and digital modernization.

"Our modernization efforts would not have been successful if we hadn't partnered with SAS R&D to discuss restrictions and capabilities within our infrastructure," said Adolfo Lopez, VP of Global Technology at JPMorgan Chase. "They took those concerns seriously and worked together for solutions. It was a collaborative success."

Kelly Mahoney, VP of Customer Marketing at Ulta Beauty, expressed similar sentiments about her relationship with SAS. "We have truly partnered with SAS. They have a vast network of clients and knowledge. Immersing and coexisting as one team has been the secret to our success."

Upchurch said he was "all smiles" regarding the event and spoke about the success of the panel discussion on social media.

"I’m still all smiles when I think about how great an event it was for everyone who attended," Upchurch said. "There was a common theme in the panel and across Innovate: AI, analytics and the cloud must be a part of your strategy if you want to outpace tomorrow."

After Upchurch and the other panelists left the stage, renowned mentalist Colin Cloud took the spotlight and captivated the crowd with his extraordinary abilities. With his incredible mind-reading and intuitive prowess, he left the audience spellbound, seamlessly deciphering their thoughts and delving into the depths of their minds. To understand, you just had to be there.

Chase closed out the three-day event with some final remarks. In them, she emphasized the remarkable strides made in AI and analytics. Chase finished her closing speech by giving props to the energy displayed throughout the event and the willingness of everyone to participate and enjoy themselves.

"I sincerely hope that the connections you have established here will endure over time, as the lasting relationships forged at an event like this are truly invaluable," Chase said.

In the end, she left attendees with three points to take away: embracing resilience, being ethical in innovation and being AI-driven.

"Together, we can meet today’s challenges and outpace tomorrow," Chase said. 

Read more stories from SAS Innovate in Orlando including:

Couldn’t make it to Orlando? No problem. SAS Innovate on Tour is hitting the road and coming to cities around the globe. Check out our next stops.


About Author

Caslee Sims

I'm Caslee Sims, writer and editor for SAS Blogs. I gravitate toward spaces of creativity, collaboration and community. Whether it be in front of the camera, producing stories, writing them, sharing or retweeting them, I enjoy the art of storytelling. I share interests in sports, tech, music, pop culture among others.

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