By 25 October 2019 | Categories: Corporate Events


The SAS’ Analytics Experience held in Milan this week kicked off with a no holds barred view of the role data and analytics plays in everything from augmenting fashion to treating cancer. Day one of the event also unpacked why most digital transformation projects fail and took an intriguing look at human irrationality in the face of artificial intelligence.

These three topics may seem unrelated, but the thread that links them is analytics – the analysis and usage of data to derive tangible benefit.

Jim Goodnight, the CEO of SAS, began by noting that every day, we see that the world is changing before our eyes. “One of the most exciting areas is the field of artificial intelligence. Technologies like machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision are finding new and exciting uses each day,” he enthused.

To demonstrate this in action, bearing in mind that the event was held in a fashion capital, the company showcased how computer vision could be used to identify clothing worn by Italian models, with digital descriptions popping up as they walked past. Goodnight explained that particular use of the technology had a real  world  application, and was designed for a customer that  wanted to be able to identify what the current fashion was trending in malls.

Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS

Taking names, saving lives

But there are more significant uses for computer vision that are being enabled, with it being used to more efficiently identify and help in the treatment of cancers. Indeed, the earlier the medical profession can identify rogue cells, which is what causes cancers, the better. The less chance a cancer has to develop before it is recognized, the more promising the prognosis ends up being for the patient in most cases.

As well, computer vision can also be used to help radiologists more efficiently identify whether a cancer is responding to radiation,and to what extent a tumour is shrinking, and thus aid in the decision making process about continuing treatment of radiology and chemotherapy.

This all crystallises in an exciting potential:  earlier identification of cancer leads to more lives saved, and less victims of malignant cancers that have gotten out of  control.

Goodnight noted that a computer can be taught to see and recognize anything the human eye can. However, as technology improves, invariably machines will only get better at recognizing anomalies that the human eye cannot. Along with analytics,there exists the potential for machines to be used to predict the chances of a patient surviving a complex or risky surgical procedure. 

In a nutshell, machines and technology, will only become more valuable assistants to medical personnel.

Analytics is essential

However, to really reap  the benefits of a technology like computer vision, good analytics is essential, as is the real world application of data analytics. It is to this end that SAS’ purpose, he elaborated, is to make the pragmatic application of technologies like artificial intelligence, and machine learning attainable, all while helping its customers accelerate their digital transformation, so as to bring the benefits of analytics to the fore. 

To this end, the company has endeavored to make emerging technologies like artificial intelligence more accessible to organisations that us SAS' analytics platform, by baking AI into its more recent software releases. Goodnight further noted that the company will continue to apply AI to, not just computer vision, but natural language processing, deep learning, forecasting and optimsation as well.

This bodes well for companies that take advantage of the rich, and potentially far reaching potentials, that better use of analytics portends. So with  so much potential, why aren't more companies using data and analytics better? The answer to that question is explored in the second part of our coverage.   


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