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Highlights From SAS on Data for Good and Shift to Open Platform

by Cindi Howson  |  February 23, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Last week I had the opportunity to attend SAS’s annual analyst briefing, this year in sunny Naples, Florida. As I left New Jersey at a chilly 15F degrees, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am:  The role of an analyst can sometimes take you to exotic – and warm – places.

(Of course, it can also be somewhat frustrating to be locked in a room in meetings while there is the sun, a beach, and water beckoning. But I will take those fleeting moments over breakfast and lunch!)


SAS remains one of the largest privately held software vendors as we wrote in this just published SAS Vendor Rating. It’s often touted as one of the best places to work, and its workforce diversity numbers are something to brag about.

And yet, as more data scientists shift to using open source R and Python, the shift threatens the advanced analytics business that is core to SAS.  The company has been going through a multi-year transition to make its platform more modern, micro-services oriented, and open. Enter SAS Viya.  As we wrote in this updated Critical Capabilities note, SAS Visual Analytics on Viya brought a number of key improvements.

It was interesting – astounding really – for me to hear a customer talk about how they are using Viya as the platform for model management while data scientists are programming in Python.  At the same time, the number of Viya customers participating in SAS’s official reference program is relatively low, considering that the product has been in the market for more than a year now.

One of the highlights of the briefing was learning more about SASs’ efforts around Data for Good. If you read either edition of my Successful Business Intelligence book, you know that I have long believed that data and analytics can be used to make the world a better place. SAS shared a number of stories of how their customers are doing just that – whether in policing, cancer research, or battling the Opioid epidemic. But they have taken their efforts a step furthering by launching a new mobile app #GatherIQ that links non-government organizations with data enthusiasts to do good in the world.  The origins of the app started with work SAS was doing with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and has evolved from there.

In these screenshots, you can see how users can view data on the phone and discuss.

SAS_GatherIQIMG_2246 SASGartherIQIMG_2245


Data for Good is also one of the sessions I will be talking about in our Data and Analytics summits over the next month. I hope to see you at one of them!

We also will be talking about the soon-to-be- published 2018 Analytics and BI Magic Quadrant. If you can’t catch us at one of the summits, be sure to catch our webinar on March 12.

Cheers from Sydney, Australia now,

Cindi Howson




Additional Resources

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Gartner’s annual predictions disclose the varied importance of data and analytics across an ever-widening range of business and IT initiatives. Data and analytics leaders must consider these strategic planning assumptions for enhancing their vision and plans.

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Category: business-analytics  business-intelligence  data-and-analytics-strategies  

Cindi Howson
Research VP
1 years at Gartner
25 years IT Industry

Cindi Howson is a Research Vice President at Gartner, where she focuses on business intelligence (BI) and analytics. Her work includes writing about market trends, vendors and best practices and advising organizations on these subjects. Read Full Bio

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