SAS Executives Unveil Goals, New Partnership with SAP

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When the Premiere Business Leadership Series conference hosted by SAS kicked off this morning, keynote speaker Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, praised the late Apple founder for his attention to the beauty of the unseen—the internal hardware of a computer. Isaacson also engaged in a fireside chat with SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, and spoke to Goodnight about SAS's big data strategy.

"What SAS has been trying to do is make analytics easy for the masses of people. That is a big challenge," he said.

Among the biggest tasks for SAS right now, Goodnight explained, is to improve user experience and make managing and analyzing big data easier. When Isaacson asked Goodnight which of SAS's solutions he's most excited about to that end, Goodnight pointed to SAS's Visual Analytics.

SAS Visual Analytics is an in-memory solution for exploring any amount of data quickly, which allows users to spot patterns, identify opportunities for further analysis, and convey results with visual clarity through Web reports. Quickly formatting large amounts of data for processing, SAS Visual Analytics lets users explore all data, not just a sample, and execute analytic correlations on billions of rows of information quickly. SAS can also quickly identify patterns, trends and relationships that are not apparent unless visually displayed.

SAS Visual Analytics plays an important role in education, Goodnight explained, and is set to help educational institutions at a crucial time as American students trail those in other countries in science, technology, engineering, and math. "We need more kids entering STEM fields," Goodnight said. "Without interest in these areas, the U.S. will not be able to innovate, and soon, China and India will dominate us in both manufacturing and innovation."

SAS is dedicated to providing the education sector with insight from their Visual Analytics tool—colleges and universities worldwide are enhancing enrollment programs, teaching, institutional research, and public transparency by using better data visualization, according to Goodnight.

SAS Visual Analytics is helping schools analyze and visualize large data sets for faster, more accurate information about student enrollment and performance, faculty excellence, IT investments, Ph.D. programs, and other data. This morning, SAS announced that it is currently working with the University of Texas, the University of Louisiana, and the University of New Mexico, as well Australia's University of New South Wales, Taiwan's Soochow University, Switzerland's Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and the U.K.'s University of Derby, Regents University London, and Sheffield Hallam University.

The University of Texas System Productivity Dashboard, for example, uses SAS Visual Analytics to let citizens see how the system is performing. Sandra Woodley, who led the dashboard initiative for the UT System, recently became president of the University of Louisiana System, and is currently implementing a similar dashboard for its nine universities and 90,000 students. Woodley is pursuing public-private partnerships, supported by analytics, to match employers with students early in their academic careers and increase the pipeline of talent to fill skill gaps in high-demand fields.

"Analytics provides the intelligence we need to implement strategies that fuel economic competitiveness, while at the same time matching our students' highest potential to real job and internship opportunities. SAS Visual Analytics will help us make those connections and show the public and decision makers how our universities are performing, and how we can grow Louisiana competitively," she said.

Conference attendees were also buzzing about the announcement of a partnership between SAS and SAP, which was made at SAP TechEd conference in Las Vegas yesterday.

SAS and SAP will partner to create a joint technology and product roadmap to leverage the SAP HANA platform and SAS analytics capabilities. The collaboration will incorporate the in-memory SAP HANA platform into SAS applications and enable SAS's advanced analytics algorithms to run on SAP HANA. This will provide key decision makers with the opportunity to leverage the value of real-time data analysis within their existing SAS and SAP HANA environments.

"The partnership of SAS, the market-leading advanced analytics provider, with SAP will simplify big data and analytics efforts by reducing data movement and allowing for faster decision-making," Henry Morris, senior vice president of worldwide software and services research at IDC, says. "It can be more efficient to move the model to the data than the data to the model. This relationship will significantly drive value to joint customers."

The collaboration between SAS and SAP is expected to harness the power of combined platforms while helping to eliminate data movement, duplication and reconciliation. It will also enable massive parallelization of computationally intense workloads, all in-memory, enabling new big data solutions that could not previously be delivered.

"Combining the power of SAP HANA platform with SAS's advanced analytics applications is the first wave of innovation we plan to deliver to our joint customers," Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP, said in a company statement. "With the powerful capabilities that the two companies plan to deliver jointly, the opportunities are endless."

In-memory functionality allows businesses to handle large data sources while also supporting real-time analytics.

"SAS and SAP can help companies manage the massive volumes of information they are constantly dealing with and make sense out of it," Goodnight said. "Between our two companies, we have the expertise and the products to help ensure that our customers can see and act on the power of performing advanced data analysis within their database and not outside of it."

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