SAS outlined its generative AI strategy that revolves around connecting its data science and analytics platform to a choice of large language models, focusing on "last mile" delivery of AI applications and focusing on industries. SAS also expanded a partnership with Microsoft to integrate SAS' orchestration platform with Microsoft Azure OpenAI.

According to SAS, the generative AI integration with Microsoft will be available in private preview in the fourth quarter.

SAS delivered its vision for generative AI integration and a set of industry-specific offerings at SAS Explore in Las Vegas. SAS' approach to generative AI is to partner, offer choice and focus on its core strengths such as digital twin simulations, data governance and expertise in data science and analytics.

Bryan Harris, SAS Chief Technology Officer, said the generative AI effort is part of a $1 billion investment in industry applications. "Our $1 billion investment in industry solutions includes the integration of trustworthy generative AI capabilities that are accurate, explainable and defendable," said Harris.

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At SAS Explore, the company highlighted synthetic data generation via a patented extension to generative adversarial networks (GANs) that preserves privacy, mitigates bias and provides predictive models that serve as a foundation for digital twins, a core competency for SAS. The company has already integrated generative AI models into its SAS Customer Intelligence 360 platform.

Regarding the Microsoft partnership, SAS said they will aim to combine Azure scale with SAS orchestration of analytics and enterprise data. This integration will be aimed at industries such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, public sector and retail. "SAS is being characteristically conservative on generative AI developments, highlighting existing investments in synthetic data generation and digital twin simulations and pointing to integrations and coming private-preview experimentation with third-party large language models (LLMs)," said Constellation Research analyst Doug Henschen.

To round out its strategy, SAS outlined a series of updates and new capabilities. Here's a look:

  • SAS Viya, the company's data, AI and analytics platform, was updated to provide lightweight environments to create models and applications in Python, R or SAS and deploy them via the cloud. The company launched SAS Viya Workbench, which creates cloud-native apps and models in multiple languages. SAS Viya Workbench, currently in private preview, will also include Jupyter Notebook, Visual Studio Code and SAS Enterprise Guide with general availability in early 2024. SAS App Factory will automate the setup and integration of apps built on React, TypeScript and Postgres. SAS App Factory will be generally available in 2024.
  • SAS Energy Forecasting Cloud, an energy industry focused service, is built on SAS App Factory and enables utilities to combine data, generative AI and predictive models to forecast peak power demand and supply and demand. SAS Energy Forecasting Cloud will leverage models that absorb operational, weather and usage data from multiple sources including smart meters and IoT devices. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is a flagship customer of SAS Energy Forecasting Cloud.
  • SAS Customer Intelligence 360, a marketing platform, will be getting generative AI tools for campaign planning, content creation and journey design. Customers will be able to use their choice of foundational models, integrate LLMs with SAS connectors, apply natural language and accelerate content creation with human oversight and data privacy.
  • SAS Health, a platform for health data management, data automation and analytics, is generally available. SAS Health has a common health data model and predetermined mappings to industry standards. SAS Health is also connected to SAS Viya to deliver analytics and insights.
  • SAS said TD SYNNEX will be its primary global distribution partner to provide scale into industry-specific use cases.

"The coming SAS Viya Workbench and SAS App Factory SaaS services promise to accelerate the development of AI- and ML-based applications. The App Factory, in particular, is being targeted at vertical-industry innovation, starting with planned pre-built apps for the energy and healthcare industries," said Henschen.