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Home » User Conferences

Data Visualization is on Tap at #SASGF15

Submitted by on 2015-04-22 – 7:30 AM One Comment

This post first appeared on The 10 Minute SAS Coach site.  Thanks Guy Garrett for contributing to BI-Notes.

The SAS Global Forum is an event where SAS professionals from around the world meet once a year to see the latest R&D from SAS Institute, discuss current trends in Business Intelligence, Analytics and Big Data, and hear papers from colleagues on all manner of subjects ranging from Arrays to Zoned Decimal formats, with a fair smattering of Hadoop on the way.

It’s an excellent event and a good temperature gauge for determining if you’re behind the curve regarding new technologies and best practices in all things SAS.

SASGF15 Agenda: Data Visualization

To see what the current trends are for the event I took a list of the paper titles, from the agenda, which are being presented this year and created a word cloud using

My estimations were that if we ignore the generalised statements “SAS” , ”Analytics” “Data” along with general English words, you’d be left with “Visual”, “Hadoop”, “Cloud”, “Grid” and “Modelling” as the main hot topics on this years agenda.

 wordle tag cloud

But what are the Top 5 Topics?

However there were some interesting surprises in store.


  1. Visual – Unsurprisingly this is the most common word used in all the titles, with obvious reference to SAS Visual Analytics, and the release of SAS Visual Statistics. These products are definitely the future regarding visual representation of data and the customer base seems to love it especially with its connotations in the Big Data space.

  2. Analysis – A mainstay of SAS software and the user community the ability to analyse all types of data is of course SAS’ strength and shows a depth of investigation which makes it more than just a reporting tool.

  3. Enterprise – Undoubtedly this is a stand out phrase due to the product names SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Enterprise Miner, two product which enable users to perform analysis and reporting on data. Interesting that “Visual” is larger though – are we seeing a shift towards VA away from EG..or is it shiny object syndrome.

  4. PROC – Perhaps a sign of the audience at SASGF15 is that people are presenting papers about specific SAS procedures. It goes to show that SAS programming is far from dead and will remain a staple for the user community for years to come. (I wonder if one procedure stands out from the rest – but that’s another word cloud!)

  5. Customer – I’m very pleased to see customer is a high-ranking phrase. SAS is renowned for being used to predict customer behaviour and determine how best to model your business to serve your customers wants and needs more appropriately. Surely this is actually the main purpose for the use of the software. If you have no customers you have no business.

 Next in line

 The runners-up pay note to SAS Studio, the new UI for SAS, and again reference to the analytical and programmatic nature of SAS with the phrases “Stats”, “ODS” & “Macro” featuring heavily.


 So my predictions in the opening paragraphs were wrong. Though they do feature “Hadoop”, “Cloud” and “Big” are pretty small compared to the rest of the word cloud. Is this because the reality of user experience has to catch up with the Vision that SAS Institute have for the SAS product? Or maybe it’s a given that Hadoop and Cloud are being utilised and therefore not mentioned….?

 It’s also interesting that I can’t see “Grid” mentioned at all, and yet it’s been out in the market for over a decade.

 If you’re interested in the details behind the word cloud then have a look for yourself at this year’s agenda.

What does this mean for you and your niche?

So it would be interesting to see if your own specific niche of expertise appears on the word cloud above.

  •  If not is that because you’re ahead of the times, or behind the times?
  •  Are you stuck using a technology that’s no longer in the general SAS vocabulary (any SAS/AF programmers still out there?).
  •  What will you do to rectify that? How about presenting a paper on your niche next year at SASGF16 (Vegas or bust!)
  •  Or maybe it’s time to think about how you can position your career back along the lines of relevance with the rest of the industry.

If your firm is based in the UK, contact Guy Garrett for more information about SAS and becoming a data driven organization.

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One Comment »

  • LeRoy Bessler says:

    Glad to see Visual as the most commonly used word in topic titles, but, though relevant, I omitted it from mine. Not into high power tools like SAS Visual Analytics and SAS Visual Statistics, but for Visual Data Insights, come to my Twelve Ways to Better Graphs, at 12:00 on Wed., 29 April in Ballroom C3. Am looking forward to what all the other DV presenters will have to share. Visual Communication Effectiveness is my theme, for over twenty years at SUGI/SGF and elsewhere, and has been my quest ever since I first got into SAS/GRAPH when it was a two-year old juvenile in 1981. ODS Graphics and the Statistical Graphics Procedures present new opportunities and new challenges. The design principles apply to any SAS graphic tool, old or new, and are really software independent.