SAS announces $1 billion investment in AI (artificial intelligence)

18 March 2019

SAS invests $1 billion in AI

Commitment includes new advanced AI technologies & solutions, plus AI Accelerator Programme, offering skills & support.

SAS, a leader in analytics, is investing $1 billion in AI over the next three years through software innovation, education and expert services. The commitment builds on the company's already strong foundation in AI, which includes advanced analytics, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision. Educational programmes and expert services will help equip business leaders and data scientists for the future of AI, giving them the technology, skills and support they need to transform their organisations.

“At SAS, we remain dedicated to our customers and their success – and this investment is another example of that commitment,” said SAS CEO, Jim Goodnight. “With our innovative capabilities in AI, SAS helps businesses deter damaging fraud, fight deadly disease, better manage risk, provide exemplary service to customers and citizens, and much more.”

The $1 billion investment in AI will focus on three main areas: research and development (R&D) innovation, where SAS continues to build on the success of its global AI efforts; education initiatives addressing customer needs to better understand and benefit from AI; and expert services to optimise customer return on AI projects.

“AI is changing the way society responds to all kinds of challenges,” observed Laurie Miles, Director of Analytics, SAS UK & Ireland. “This investment will boost the development of effective AI technology across a wide range of industries and use cases, enabling organisations to make the most of their data, and help their customers and citizens in the process. AI can deliver significant value for organisations – but more than that, we believe AI can deliver great benefit to society. By investing in the future of analytics, we’re investing in the future of human development.”

R&D innovation
SAS is investing in R&D innovation in all core areas of AI, with a special focus on making it easy for users with different skill levels to benefit – from business experts to data engineers to data scientists. SAS is embedding AI capabilities into the SAS platform, and its solutions for data management, customer intelligence, fraud & security intelligence and risk management, as well as applications for industries including financial services, government, health care, manufacturing and retail.

SAS continues to partner with innovative companies and leading technology providers like Accenture, Cisco, Deloitte, Intel and NVIDIA. This work brings the latest advances and practices in AI and machine learning to customers, and ensures SAS AI technologies perform optimally in customers’ hardware and cloud environments.

SciSports, an innovative Dutch sports-analytics startup, is applying computer vision from SAS to data streaming from football matches. SAS AI technology running on NVIDIA GPUs delivers in-game insights to coaches and managers. By capturing and analysing this and other data, football clubs can improve many aspects of “the beautiful game”, including in-game strategy, player recruitment and the fan experience.

“The reason SAS tops the revenue list for advanced analytics for the last five years is that SAS solutions are built on a foundation of machine learning and deep knowledge of analytics. These are part of SAS’ DNA,” said Dave Schubmehl, Research Director for Artificial Intelligence at IDC. “Combining SAS’ knowledge and technology with its continued push to innovate in computer vison, NLP and deep learning will drive further adoption of AI across multiple industries. And it will help companies interested in AI – whether early in their AI and analytics life cycle, or more mature.”

Customer education and development initiatives
Customer education and development initiatives, such as the new SAS AI Accelerator Programme, will focus on helping organisations and professionals get AI-ready at any level. SAS will offer:

•    Tailored curricula to help organisations improve their AI skills. This will include e-learning like the SAS Academy for Data Science, and in-person training in AI technologies, best practices and more.
•    Certification programmes that help analytics professionals and data scientists earn the valuable credential of SAS Certified Professional in AI & Machine Learning. This will make them even more marketable to companies seeking AI talent.
•    The SAS Analytics Centre of Excellence, a group of PhDs and advanced experts in AI, machine learning, NLP, computer vision, optimisation, simulation and related data science skills. These SAS experts are dedicated to supporting customer AI implementations – from well-established applications to first-of-a-kind innovation.

Resources and talent are also part of the investment. SAS will augment its AI expertise through additional resources in Professional Services, Centres of Excellence, Education and R&D.

AI and analytics in action
As the latest addition to the SAS smart campus project, SAS’ newest headquarters building, a 420,000 sq. ft. tower which hosts the new Global Education Center, uses the latest innovations in AI and machine learning to connect performance with business results. The new building features thousands of IoT connected sensors – embedded in chillers, boilers and air handlers – that monitor water and energy use. Through neural networks using SAS Event Stream Processing, the SAS facilities team will track sensors and systems performance in real time to enhance predictive maintenance (identifying equipment problems before they become major) and optimise energy and water usage. Underscoring SAS’ commitment to sustainability, nearly half of the new building’s power is supplied by the adjacent SAS Solar Farm.

Among the many customers using AI and machine learning from SAS are:

•    Connexions Loyalty – works with top brands on customer-loyalty programmes serving more than 200 million people worldwide. The company relies on a SAS AI-powered personalisation engine to better market to and improve the loyalty of its clients’ customers.
•    Daiwa Securities – created a SAS AI-powered recommendation system for its sales representatives. The system analyses and predicts changes for each customer, recommending the most suitable product or appropriate follow-up messages to engage customers and reduce churn.
•    Volvo and Mack Trucks – use AI solutions from SAS to analyse IoT data streaming from big rigs, and then offer predictive maintenance insights that help fleets to keep on trucking.

More information on SAS and AI will be shared by SAS CTO & COO, Oliver Schabenberger at the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, US on March 19th, in his keynote 'AI: Technology's Inevitable Consequence.'


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