SAS Global Forum Conference Chair Lori Griffin gave a warm welcome to attendees and kicked off an Opening Session that was abuzz with excitement. Griffin told attendees that even though these are challenging times, a sense of confidence abounds at this conference because the key to success is applying solid business analytics to understand the past and predict future outcomes.
“SAS users are no strangers to analytics,” said Griffin. “Our employers depend on us to discover the hidden mysteries in the data we work with and to take the guesswork out of decision making. This is the age of analytics -- and we are in the driver’s seat.”
SAS CEO Jim Goodnight told attendees that SAS would continue to reinvest more than a fifth of total revenue in research and development (R&D).
“If you add up our R&D commitment for the past 33 years, the total is more than $5 billion,” said Goodnight. “In today’s economy, many companies are cutting back on R&D. SAS is not.”
Goodnight also participated in a demo of a new SAS solution for fraud detection: SAS® Social Network Analysis. With the economy down, crime and fraud are up, but this new solution helps organizations uncover hidden relationships between people and within data. The demo showed how organizations can detect and prevent fraudulent activity by discovering these relationships.
When SAS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis took the stage he discussed the current economic climate as an opportunity to put strategies in place that capitalize on the changes that are taking place around us. Companies that find new ways of doing business will emerge stronger once the crisis has passed, said Davis, who then showed how the components of the SAS Business Analytics Framework help organizations predict their future and optimize their business.
Also at Opening Session, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, FIDUCIA IT AG and The Commonwealth Bank of Australia were honored with the SAS Enterprise Excellence Award. Jaroslaw Maj of Play, the fourth largest mobile telecommunications company in Poland won this year’s User Feedback Award.
Author Stephen Baker, who wrote the book The Numerati, was the evening’s keynote presenter. He examined the trend toward decision making based on data versus “hunches.” For example, he said selling advertising used to be a matter of flipping through the Rolodex to connect with who you know. Now, he said, advertisers want data to back the claim that media exposure will help sell products.
“Analytics promises to replace our gut instincts with science,” he said. “As the pools of data expand, ruling by the gut will be a firing offense. The key is to find focus and determine what areas to go after with the data we have at hand.”