You've Got SAS

Innovation and user-centricity were top of mind and tip of tongue at the opening session of the SAS Global Forum in Orlando. The annual SAS user conference, which has been called SUGI in previous years, kicked off with speeches from CEO Dr. Jim Goodnight and Jim Davis, senior vice president and CMO. Both emphasized the growing importance of analytics and SAS's strategy to deliver best-of-breed BI products. The opening session underscored strong focus on users with the announcement of SAS's Enterprise Intelligence as well as the vendor's User Feedback awards. Goodnight defined SAS's goal as delivering what will best serve the software's users, namely, highly functional BI solutions. "Analytics are no longer an option in today's enterprise. In many cases they are critical to survival," he said. "At a time when everyone is claiming to offer BI and advanced analytics it's hard to tell software vendors apart." Goodnight argued that SAS's solutions perform at the forefront of this market due in part to a large investment (24 percent in 2006) of profit being put back into research and development, as well as numerous releases. SAS implemented 100 releases in the past year, five of which were new products. SAS customers were honored through two awards at the session. Dr. Tor Neilands won the SAS User Feedback award for using SAS to work toward AIDS prevention at the University of California, San Francisco. The Enterprise Intelligence Award was given to both JPMorgan Chase for using BI to enable numerous lines of business, and to Whirlpool for its use of SAS to power warranty analysis and manage quality issues. The SAS Global Users Groups unveiled a Web 2.0 site for SAS users called sascommunity.org, which will be hosted by the SAS Institute and managed by the Users Group. The site, which is currently available, includes features such as a "sasopedia" (similar in format to wikipedia.org), blogging areas, and watch pages. In addition to the broader themes of individualism and innovation, Davis provided more clarity about the vendor's direction in the upcoming year, pointing to the absence of intelligence platforms as a top problem for organizations today. He asserted that SAS and its users must work to fill this gap to be successful. "If we believe that information is critical to success then we must give intelligence platform status. We must innovate. We must look beyond just doing things better. We must be able to surface new opportunities." Related articles: SAS Tops Gartner's BI Magic Quadrant
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