As a Data and Analytics consultancy, SAS is one of our key technology partners. BDP is a SAS Silver Partner and the SAS Forum UK provides us with the opportunity to hear about new developments in SAS and how we can implement these across our projects. Our BDP team had a great day at the event. Read on to hear about the highlights from this year’s forum…
SAS Forum 2019

The day started rather inauspiciously, with severe rain hampering journeys, but the BDP team enjoyed the multiple stands and activities available at the forum. We relished the opportunity to talk about all things SAS and AI with like-minded individuals!

The focus of this year’s SAS Forum was AI & Analytics in Action. This theme was prevalent throughout the day, highlighted in the opening sessions. After a welcome from Caroline Payne and an introduction from Jim Goodnight, the speaker’s attention turned to how using and understanding data and analytics can drive progress and provide solutions to everyday problems. SAS COO, Oliver Schabenberger, discussed how visual analytics are being utilised in the detection of cancer, saving both doctors time and hospital resources. Sebastien Charrot presented how child protection officers can now, via a mobile phone app, use SAS to find, visit and document vulnerable children at risk.

In addition to the practical applications of AI and Machine Learning, the guest speaker Andreas Ekström brought the future into focus. Described as a “Futurist and Commentator on the Digital Revolution” he challenged us, as IT Professionals, to ensure we are building towards a sustainable digital future. His session delved into the seven biggest issues of our digital future highlighting concerns such as privacy, filter bubbles and net neutrality.

AI, Analytics, and Activities

Throughout the day there were many SAS activities for us to get involved in. These included a Segway Robot that demonstrated using Natural Language Processing, alongside a SAS face recognition programme and not to forget the pick-n-mix! In the main room, there were also “silent-discos” – where you could use headphones to tune into various presentations. As always, it was fantastic to see the SAS Education team had a strong presence with a variety of stands.

Continuing the theme, the activities had an AI element to them. From “Smart Darts” to a Data Science Escape Room, where we used SAS software to stop a cyber-attack. We were given 20 mins to analyse different data to prevent system failures, pinpoint where the attacks were sourced and capture the hacker. This was great fun and allowed our team to collaboratively use our SAS skills to solve the problems given!

SAS Developments

Outside the main room where the key sessions were held, various business and technical break-out streams were taking place. Alongside advice for taking AI and Machine learnings from buzzwords to actionable business activities, a key focus for this year was SAS in the cloud. As SAS professionals utilising the cloud across our client base, we attended as many of the ‘Evolve Your Analytics Platform’ sessions as we could. One that we particularly enjoyed was ‘Auto-Scaling in SAS Viya. Is it Actually Possible? ’ We always enjoy a bit of a geek out, and Sergey Iglov started by discussing how he had used SAS Viya and AWS to deliver a solution which automatically scaled to match the work-load, alongside discussing the challenges of different scaling options. Another thing we found exciting was all the new functionality SAS are delivering this year, which Paul Jones and David Smith shared in their talk ‘SAS Releases in 2019: What to expect when!’ Make sure to check out the slides when they become available to see what is in the pipeline.


The SAS Forum is the largest gathering of SAS professionals and analytics experts in the UK. We had a fantastic time and we are very much looking forward to attending next year.

If you work with or are interested in SAS, please get in touch with BDP for more information on how we can help you with your data challenges.  With over 150 consultants across the UK and SAS Silver partners, BDP has a strong team of experts across several sectors in Finance, Insurance, Retail, Agriculture and Local Government. Whether its AI, SAS Viya, or traditional SAS analytics BDP will be able to assist you with your data requirements.

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