SAS Kicks Off Global Forum with Bevy of New Products, Research
SAS kicked off its annual SAS Global Forum with a flurry of new product releases and research reports focused on bringing together business users and data scientists, and unifying the analytics process.
Although MarketsandMarkets predicts the business intelligence and analytics software market will reach $26.8 billion by 2020, 72 percent of executives were dissatisfied with the time it takes to get the results they need from analytics and 52 percent said they have too many tools and processes to get data, a January 2015 study by Alteryx found.
But enterprises can improve the return on their analytics investment by integrating analytics talent into their organization, according to newly released research from MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS. According to "The Talent Dividend," 81 percent of businesses believe analytics create a competitive advantage for their organization. Yet by 2018, the United States will suffer a shortage of up to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts who can understand and make decisions, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated. While some educational institutions expand their offerings and attempt to lure more students to analytics careers, software developers seek ways to make their programs and analytics skills easier for business professionals to use.
That is the approach SAS took with its newly announced integration of SAS Visual Analytics and SAS Visual Statistics. The updates, slated to become generally available next month, both use SAS in-memory analytics processing, and allow multiple users to analyze data on Hadoop clusters, relational databases, or SAS servers, according to the developer. SAS Visual Statistics is a point-and-click application designed to enable business users to intuitively create predictive models without needing an analytics background, said Preview postWayne Thompson, SAS chief data scientist, in a webinar.
"It's not just for the hardcore statistician. We're seeing the democratization of analytics," he said. "It's not so much that it's scalable but it allows you to model, to approach the problem the way you think."
SAS today took the wraps off SAS Model Risk Management, a model-governance solution that helps strictly regulated financial organizations aggregate and analyze risks via a detailed view of all a bank's models, enabling them to reduce risk and potential fines and speed-up associated management and audit costs, the company said. Today, a bank's divisions or departments may use their own methods of tracking models, said David Asermely, senior product manager at SAS' Risk Research and Quantitative Solutions group.
"Different banks and different organizations or different groups within a bank will have different methodologies for managing models," he said. "This allows different business units to take the policies they've developed and incorporate them into [SAS Model Risk Management]. It allows companies to control the entire lifecycle, including validation, including review and results."
Financial organizations are not the only enterprises subject to audits and risk-management. Expanded use of analytics can help enterprises combat the growing number and sophistication of cyberattacks, according to recent research from SAS-sponsored research from IDC. Organizations should use behavioral analytics and frameworks such as Hadoop to improve security, according to "Big Data and Predictive Analytics: On the Cybersecurity Frontline." Last week, SAS began offering SAS Cybersecurity which analyzes billions of network transactions in real-time to decrease the time it takes organizations to find – and shut down – security breaches.
Analytics for All
The secret to successful analytics rollouts means expanding usage beyond trained analytics professionals, SAS said. To expand on the concept of analytics' democratization, the developer now offers free SAS software via Amazon Web Services (AWS) to students, educators, researchers, and individuals who wish to learn SAS. By making SAS University Edition available on AWS, users do not need to download the software, which SAS made available at no charge about a year ago for use on a standalone PC, Mac, or Linux workstation. Cloud-based access could spur further adoption – and expand the number of analytics professionals available to enterprises, said Robby Powell, principal marketing manager for cloud and platform technologies at SAS. The software is part of the AWS in Education program; as such, users are eligible for the AWS Free Tier program, which gives first-time AWS subscribers free access for 12 months, up to 750 hours per month, with subsequent AWS usage fees applied.
Since it launched in May 2014, SAS Analytics U – which delivers free access to SAS software for students, professors, and independent learners – has been downloaded almost 245,000 times, and approximately 34,000 users leverage the developer's cloud-based SAS OnDemand for Analytics, SAS said. In addition, learners accessed free SAS e-learning classes more than 45,000 times, viewed tutorials more than 1 million times, and SAS certifications grew 8 percent over last year, the company said.
Today, SAS also provided organizations with access to 27 years of United Nations' trade data, with the release of SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade. The data, more than 300 million rows of it, is based in SAS data visualization software, and gives users insight into trends such as the biggest provider of coal to one nation or another nation's main export, said I-Sah Hsieh, SAS global manager for International Development. Views include imports and exports; trade balance; trade composition; mirror statistics; trade history, and data. The no-cost version is available today. A subscription version – which costs $35 per week, $50 per month, or $500 a year – provides more detail and will be released later this year, Hsieh said.