Making analytics more accessible to all business users was the major theme of SAS Global Forum 2017, and to that end the company launched products focused on machine learning and the Internet of Things, and speakers offered big-picture perspectives on the importance of analytics.
SAS launched a machine learning platform, SAS Viya, and, with partner Cisco, the Cisco SAS Edge-to-Enterprise IoT Analytics Platform. Aimed at all skill levels, SAS Viya is a cloud-ready, scalable, open platform for modern machine learning that supplements SAS 9; it extends SAS 9’s capabilities with features including Visual Analytics for business users, Visual Statistics for business analysts, Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning for data scientists, and Visual Investigator for intelligence analysts.
The Cisco SAS Edge-to-Enterprise IoT Analytics Platform, announced on Monday, aims to assist enterprises in applying analytics to various layers of their networks based on their volume, velocity, and latency requirements. The platform has three key features: edge computing, flexible enterprise computing, and management. Edge computing refers to the combination of Cisco IoT Gateways and SAS Event Stream Processing, which enables analytic models to function close to the devices and sensors creating the data, initiating alerts and defining which data is important to store and route forward. Flexible enterprise computing takes this relevant data and transports it to the data center or cloud, where it is contextualized with additional enterprise data. Management refers to the infrastructure provided by Cisco that works to connect to the edge to the data center or cloud and support analytics at each network layer.
Along with the unveiling of these new products came discussions of real-world applications of analytics, including a presentation by Anthony Perez, executive vice president of strategy for the NBA's Orlando Magic. "We were trying to figure out a better way to price our tickets and weren't really sure how to do that," he told the audience during his keynote on Tuesday. "We encountered SAS by chance…[and] what they talked to us about was a broader vision of consolidating our data from all these disparate sources to make it more actionable. From that point in 2010 until now, we've grown significantly.
"Mobile has been a huge focus for us over the past couple of years. We've really taken a mobile-first approach to the fan experience at our games," he continued, saying that the team's app allows fans to initiate interactions with the team mascot. "We've made [the app] the remote control to the live experience," he said, adding that the goal of the app is to provide fans with the same level of control at the game that they would have watching it at home.
"You can love our sports team without buying tickets and coming to the game….We still want people to want to come to our games. The big narrative for many years has been about the secondary market—that that has been the killer of season tickets. I don't see it that way; I think that what it has illuminated is fans' desire for flexibility," he told the audience. "How do we create the flexibility that the fans value that can still be additive to our business. I don't think season tickets are going to exist for the way that they have traditionally have. People want more flexibility.”