Smart, Swift Change: The SAS Global Forum

Helping to enable companies to grow and innovate through fact-based decision making was the message behind the company's announcements and product releases at the SAS Global Forum and Executive Conference. Keynote speaker and "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams said of his former job at Pacific Bell, "When you realize that your work and your outcome do not add up, it really frees up your schedule." With a slew of vertically targeted product releases, the release of new visualization technologies, and a mission to build an understanding of advanced analytics for knowledge workers at the university level, SAS wants to ensure that Adams's issue will never occur in future enterprise practices. Jim Davis, senior vice president and CMO for SAS, asked executives, "Do you have the right people in the right place and are you educating them on how to use your data?" He continued, "It's not just about technology. We must not only have a culture that accepts change but embraces change." In order for companies to put the right people in the right place, the right people must first exist. At the conference SAS acknowledged the current industry shortage of professionals with a high-level knowledge of advanced analytics. Dr. Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, said, "The shutdown of the American borders after 9/11 kept a lot of really bright young people from coming here and studying advanced analytics." Goodnight says that the restrictions placed on student visas has made it quite difficult for students interested in studying analytics to do so in the U.S. Companies must now look for new ways to find workers with an adequate skill set. SAS announced a new solution, SAS OnDemand for Academics, which promises to put SAS in the hands of more students at the university level. Additionally, SAS announced that NC State University will now be partnering with SAS to offer the nation's first master's degree in Advanced Analytics, a move the company hopes will help end this shortage. SAS continued its push into verticals with releases of more new solutions targeted to address specific business problems. New applications for retail include SAS Market Planning and Portfolio Optimization, which helps retailers choose where to open new stores, and SAS Merchandise Allocation, which helps identify which products should be placed in different stores. The new SAS Service Parts Optimization helps manufacturing companies make manufacturing decisions surrounding spare parts, while the latest version of SAS IT Resource Management aims to optimize the functions of IT. SAS also announced that Veridiem MRM would now be available as a hosted solution as part of SAS Solutions OnDemand. SAS also released SAS Visual BI Software, a tool the company hopes will span all verticals. The software enables users to view information as part of an active "data movie" rather than static charts and graphs. The added dimension of movement on the screen allows users to better understand patterns in data as well as view the effect of more variables clearly. Davis says that this product in particular stands out, as it has the potential of changing the culture of an organization through putting analytical knowledge into everyone's hands. "Somebody who may not be an expert can easily recognize trends," he says, adding that this is just part of SAS's larger project to make data-driven decisions possible. In the next few years, he says, "I think that performance management will become less of a buzzword and more of a reality." Related articles: You've Got SAS
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