Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SAS Analytics Forum #81

Today I attended the 2016 SAS Analytics Forum in Dublin - there were about 200 people at the Forum and we were well looked after by the SAS folks in the Herbert Park Hotel. As an academic, it is a good idea to keep up with what is happening in industry - hence my attendance today. 

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The story of SAS is a good one - we were given a short history to open the event. This was followed by the launch of two new products: SAS Viya, and SAS CI 360. These seem to be powerful tools, but we were not given an example of them in action. This was a recurrent theme throughout the day for me - the lack of examples of data analysis. The best parts of the day were testimonies from clients of SAS: AIB, Sport Ireland, and the Dept of Social Protection told us about SAS in their organizations and expressed great satisfaction of its use. Only Sport Ireland provided sample charts - an interesting example of one athlete's immunity levels and stress with follow-up actions.

After lunch, I attended two breakout sessions. I completely misunderstood what "Platform Management and Administration" was about. The first part turned out to be about Technical Support which I had no interest in. The second breakout session was much better with the SAS speaker telling us about Machine Learning and Deep Learning - very informative, though light on examples. Other sessions gave us tips about how to manage data projects and how to build a data analytics unit within a company - not what I had come to see.

Even though I am not a SAS software user, overall it was an enjoyable day with some learnings for me to take home. I would certainly like to have seen some examples of SAS software in use, though I understand that there might have been data protection and privacy issues preventing this.

An interesting observation for me was that the attendance was mostly made up of men. There was only one woman speaker (a former data analytics student of NCI). Our education system needs to adjust to get more women into STEM type courses - analytics is not just for men, it's for the ladies too!

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