One of the oldest statistical programs is the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) by SAS Institute, Inc. Developed in 1976, SAS has evolved over the past four decades to provide powerful data analysis tools that are used by researchers, businesses and other organizations. SAS began as a project in 1966 by several North Carolina State University faculty members to analyze data collected through United States Department of Agriculture studies. By the time the company was formed, the program was being used by almost 100 entities in all sorts of industries, including pharmaceuticals, insurance, banking and government agencies. Today, SAS has offices in 59 countries and still works with all segments of society, though it derives over 60% of its business from banking, government, service and insurance (SAS 2015 Annual Report).
What Does SAS Do?
Statistical Analysis System is both a data management and a data analysis system. With its data management and “event stream processing” systems, SAS can collect and analyze data, in real-time, to provide information on transactions that can help businesses take advantage of what is happening at that moment. SAS uses its “customer intelligence” software to enable businesses to provide customer service that is relevant to the individual or group of individuals. Its “advanced analytics” applications are able to provide statistical analysis and forecasting as well as data mining. SAS also provides risk management, including optimizing capital and liquidity and staying within regulatory guidelines. To help businesses protect data, SAS developed its Cybersecurity system, which analyzes data in real time for malicious activity. With the exponential growth in the amount of data collected, much of it being sensitive data of some sort, such as credit card numbers, the need to keep that data secure is great.
The Statistical Analysis System Annual Report provides some specific examples of what their programs are able to do and where they are used. Here are a few of these:
- Geneia, a healthcare company, uses SAS and the Internet to provide real-time biometric data from patients wearing a monitoring device to local care teams so that the teams can evaluate patients and keep them healthy and independent.
- Orange County (CA) Child Support Services uses SAS Analytics to predict which parents are at risk for not paying child support. This information is given to case workers who then work with parents on making decisions that best benefit their children.
- SAS Analytics used data on paramedics’ resuscitation efforts and determined that the standard 20-minute effort should be expanded to at least 45 minutes. In Wake County, NC, this change has increased survival rates for cardiac arrest patients by 48%.
- SAS technology is used in non-invasive ways to identify, track and monitor animals in easier, faster, and cheaper ways. As an example, the technology has been used in the United Kingdom to understand the migration patterns of endangered birds so that the government can prevent development that could harm such wildlife.
SAS Institute is aware of the growing need for people to be able to analyze the data that invade their world. SAS holds conferences to bring customers, industry experts and researchers together to network. Online, there are SAS user communities. Through these communities, SAS customers can ask for assistance, share knowledge and access presentations and workshops on using SAS features. SAS Institute also has a customer advisory board that is involved with SAS research and development.
Outside of the company itself, SAS supports many educational programs, particularly at the college level. To the address the skills gap in data analytics, SAS provides students, instructors, and researchers access to free or low-cost software. In addition, SAS has helped launched nearly 100 certificate and undergraduate and graduate degree programs in data analytics and related disciplines.