SAS Unveils Visual and In-Memory Stats for Hadoop

WASHINGTON—Data has moved from the back office to the C-suite. Companies crave actionable insights, making data visualization more important to interpret and share data. There are new ways to store data, such as Hadoop, which allows data to be freed of rows. Addressing these needs, SAS announced a flurry of product updates at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference in Washington  today.

The updates focus on giving users improved visualization of statistics, more resources to use data to improve the customer experience, and ways to deal with unstructured data coming from Hadoop. The forward-looking strategy of the business analytics software company also includes expanded initiatives at educating college students and making them SAS users.

SAS In-Memory Statistics for Hadoop: Using the same in-memory analytics technology behind SAS Visual Analytics, SAS In-Memory Statistics for Hadoop will allow users to do complex analyses in a timely manner. "We want to be the biggest and best analytics workload for Hadoop," Wayne Thompson, SAS's chief data scientist, said at a press conference, emphasizing that SAS wants to be a leader both in data management and analytics. Using the software, users can carry out complex processes, including creating recommendation engines. The product will be available immediately.

SAS Visual Statistics: SAS pre-emptively announced that SAS Visual Statisticswill be available in July. The new product, which uses the Visual Analytics user interface, will allow creation of predictive models in a clean, user-friendly way. Users can build predictive models using a drag-and-drop infrastructure to create data visualizations. Once created, the data needs to be just loaded once, allowing for repetitive analysis. SAS Visual Statistics can operate on multiple platforms, including Hadoop distributions from Cloudera and Hortonworks, departmental servers, and Teradata and Pivotal's database appliances.

SAS Customer Intelligence: A new version of SAS Customer Intelligence will allow companies come one step closer to a fully integrated digital business. "The resounding thing we're hearing is that there is a huge difference between digital marketing and digital business,” noted SAS Global Director of Customer Intelligence Wilson Raj. "Digital marketing is really a bolt-on." With the new version, a redesign of the Reports Workspace will allow for more interactive visualization of data that allows for intuitive visualizations.

Marketers will also be able to track customers across channels through social IDs. These social IDs can include information extracted from social networks and unstructured data, and allow marketers to match customer activity across multiple channels. There will also be enhancements that allow for delivery of marketing information across channels. Marketers could instruct call centers to recommend a certain offer based on the interaction, or trigger a certain home page view after a consumer's interaction on the phone, such as a thank you message.

SAS University Edition: Beginning in May, students can download a free version of SAS called SAS University Edition. The on-demand version of the software will work on both PCs and Macs, since university students are heavy Mac users. Previously, SAS had a free version that required students to be linked to a course or a professor, but this version will remove those barriers. With these initiatives, SAS hopes to create a new generation of SAS users and also to address the shortage of qualified STEM graduates that has become a hot topic in recent years.

During an opening keynote speech, SAS Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davies emphasized the changes in the world of statistical analysis. "What we're asking of data today is much more complex than what we asked of data yesterday," he told the audience, advising that business intelligence needs to escape its narrow focus and become more action-based. "Rely on it for fact-based decision making and not just information, as we did in the past."

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