SAS to invest $1 billion in AI for industry uses, education, R&D

The AI investment is part of SAS' efforts to make data, AI, machine learning and algorithms more return driven and consumable.

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SAS said it will invest $1 billion in artificial intelligence over the next three years as it develops its analytics platform, educates data scientists and targets industry-specific use cases.

The investment is part of SAS' effort to build a higher profile. SAS is an analytics and data science pioneer, but the privately-held company has been quietly retooling its business and products.

SAS' artificial intelligence investment will focus on AI research and development, education initiatives such as its certifications and data science academy and services to create better returns on projects.

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Oliver Schabenberger, chief technology and operating officer at SAS, will give a keynote at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference on Tuesday.

SAS' AI efforts will revolve around embedding AI into its platform and creating tools for data management, customer analytics, fraud and security and risk management. The company will also aim to meld AI and the Internet of things data for industries ranging from financial services to manufacturing to healthcare.

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We caught up with Schabenberger to talk about SAS's strategy in December. Here were the key points on the company's strategy and where AI fits in:

  • SAS in recent years "hasn't been as visible as it could have been," said Schabenberger. But the company has been making pivots to software as a service, connecting its platform to other analytics tools and targeting industries better. SAS has been focused on "how our offering can bring analytics to areas undiscovered," he added SAS has also been focused on targeting a wide range of companies beyond large enterprises and making its offering more consumable.
  • The company is entering a results as a service model where customers come with business problems and SAS can help solve them with its expertise in analytics, machine learning and data science.
  • Most of the company's customers are on-premises, but migrating to cloud workloads at different paces, said Schabenberger. As that migration continues, SAS is focused on bridging the gap between those consuming the data and those preparing it and programming. "Data needs to be consumed," said Schabenberger. "Our offering today is more than what SAS became known for."
  • SAS is cloud agnostic and will plug into Google Cloud Platform, AWS and Microsoft Azure. The value from SAS comes from expertise in developing machine learning models and algorithms. "Our strength is embedding algorithms and bringing them into action to process data into a user model and solution," said Schabenberger.

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