Retrospective: the SAS Analytics Forum

By Ruben Baghus

For me as a ‘first timer’, the SAS Analytics Forum event was a pleasure to experience. This annual event, which could be joined digitally this year, is a so-called 'knowledge sharing event' for different subjects such as; “Thought leaders” talking about SAS analytics itself, interviews with different clients and their experiences using SAS, and several SAS experts discussing about both their knowledge and involvement in client projects. Finally, a very special project: "SAS Moves You".

For those who missed the event, here are my brief outlines of the topics. Enjoy!

After an introduction in the familiar NBC in Nieuwegein, Heere Blokhuis - Managing Director SAS Benelux, started the SAS event together with host Jim Stolze.

Oliver Schabenberger - Executive vice president, COO and CTO of SAS kicks off the first presentation by talking about the impact Covid-19 has on many companies, including SAS.

“Covid forces us to find new ways to connect, it forces us out of our comfort zone.”

Oliver talks about simplifying his business and improving customer experience. His principles of analytics are examples that give a good impression:

  • Analytics follows the data, analytics are everywhere
  • Democratisation analytics for everyone
  • Analytics is more than algorithms
“Analytics transforms businesses from Data-driven to Model-driven”. He explains that with Data-driven businesses “the data helps run the business”. With Model-driven businesses “the models themselves are the business”.

Host Vivianne Bendermacher - Founder of Techionista, talked to several SAS clients about their experiences. Some very interesting conversations were these:

- Treant Zorggroep, a conversation with Ron Akkerman - member of the Treant board of directors and Frank Kroezen - surgeon at Treant, about their application of SAS. For them SAS is extremely important, within their hospital, to have all data flows communicating smoothly with each other so that all information modifications remain up-to-date; an essential part of running a hospital.
- Raffael Reinhold - CEO of Office Depot, talked about how their company also had to go through a forced digital transformation. Noticing the behaviour of their customers, normally focusing on B2B but now increasingly encountering B2C, which requires a different approach.

Similarly, several SAS experts spoke, each of them told about their way of working and processing Data via SAS.

Veronique van Vlassenaar - Data- and Decision-scientist for SAS, is currently working with AI: “which are deep learning algorithms and neural network roots trying to mimic the human brain / our intelligence.” But the AI goes a step further, an example of such a step is GAN: Generative Adversarial Networks. This AI identifies images, translates images, does style transfers and inpainting / reconstructing of missing elements in images. But that doesn't mean an AI won't cheat to get a result!

Hannah Fry - Associate professor at UCL, mathematician, author, teacher and television presenter, has many good anecdotes in which she makes various complex problems understandable. For example, she says: “We are so focused on the data that we can see, we forget to ask for what we can't see. Pause and ask yourself are you seeing everything. Of course it is also about having the right data, not just more data to make the right decision."

“SAS Moves You” also provided a good example of one of the various projects in which SAS plays an important role. 
Vivianne Bendermacher talked to Martine Keulen – student at TU Delft, and Arthur de Crook - Director D (N) A -lab, about a project in which every year a different team of TU Delft students builds a fully functioning exoskeleton in order to take steps in the development of the exoskeleton-technology. Arthur helps various students, startups and scale-ups to realise innovative projects.
Are you interested in the conversations and presentations in full ? Click here, to watch the whole SAS Analytics Forum for free.