SAS Inside Intelligence 2018

From May 30 to June 1, 2018, SAS held its annual conference for industry analysts, “Inside Intelligence 2018”.

The leading analytics vendor outlined its strategy and future perspectives. SAS continued to grow, as it has every year since its creation in 1976. Being a company originating from the academic world, SAS has retained a strong focus on education and its relations with academia, thus one of the first topics it presented was connected to its educational programs and its dedicated portfolio for students. This is one of the main pools for the continuous innovation and R&D the company invests in.

SAS presented several use cases for its technology, which are intended to make a major impact not only in commercial terms, but also socially, such as the identification of incorrect prescriptions of opioids supported by the Viya 3.3 platform.

Strategically, SAS has six core competencies/strengths: fraud, risk, customer intelligence & decision management, data management, analytics, AI & machine learning; in addition, a few new ones are being developed, such as IoT and cloud.

Traditionally, SAS technology was mainly adopted by large enterprises. However, businesses of all sizes are currently experiencing a massive growth in data. This is why SAS is now also targeting the SMB segment with cloud/SaaS deployment models, which allow flexibility for smaller customers.

The segmentation strategy of customers puts a stronger focus on the partners and resellers that promote SAS technology penetration among the mid-market and some enterprise accounts. Partnerships will be a key driver for SAS’ development in an increasingly competitive market with new types of competitors (e.g. system integrators that develop their own analytics platforms).

Another major step is the growing openness of the SAS platforms. SAS offers various ways to use open source technologies for data analytics. R or Python can be used in Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning. SAS has also built a wrapper around PROCs for R or Python so that they can be directly integrated in open source workflows. This makes it possible to use SAS' high-performance algorithms together with open source technology. SAS also offers the possibility to use containers for the deployment of SAS workflows.

The SAS Platform

Regarding analytics, SAS is working on issues such as providing solutions to enhance the interpretability of complex models, adding new methods for deep learning and reinforcement learning, and providing more functionalities for analytics automation with respect to data preparation but also automated model tuning for rapid prototyping.

Various products such as Visual Analytics, Visual Statistics and Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning run in the cloud. Moreover, SAS uses its solutions to provide “Results as a Service”. Companies lacking analytical talent can use SAS consultants to build analytics solutions that are delivered using SAS technology.

PAC believes that the new openness strategy announced by SAS and its targeting of smaller customers may bring growth from areas with low SAS adoption in the past.