SAS wins two American Business Awards

Analytics powerhouse recognized for Technology Executive of the Year and PR Campaign of the Year

SAS has won two Stevie® awards in the 2023 American Business Awards® , which honors the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide. The analytics and AI leader earned a Silver recognition in the PR Campaign of the Year category for technology and a Bronze recognition in the Technology Executive of the Year category for Jay Upchurch, SAS Executive Vice President and CIO. More than 3,700 nominations were considered in the judging process by more than 240 professionals worldwide, whose average scores determined the winners.

Batting, analytics and data literacy: A triple play

SAS is passionate about making STEM education and analytics accessible to all, empowering children to see data in their everyday lives. SAS created The Batting Lab with two goals: to help kids improve their baseball skills and gain confidence with data to boost their data literacy. In fact, the concept of the Batting Lab was so impressive that it was featured on The Today Show as an innovative way to teach kids about STEM.

The Batting Lab is an interactive batting cage that makes math fun by combining baseball with analytics to help kids improve their swing through data. With each swing of the bat, audio sensors detect contact, and activated sensors capture the swing. The footage is processed using computer vision and hundreds of sensors in the batter’s box record how a player shifts their weight throughout the swing. Once hit, the ball’s flight is recorded in real time. To provide feedback, SAS Event Stream Processing uses a hidden Markov model created in SAS Econometrics to ingest video and sensor data.

To collect data for The Batting Lab, SAS partnered with elite college baseball and softball players from North Carolina State University and filmed footage of their swings to be analyzed by computer vision. Each swing is scored and combined with business rules created by professional coaches to create recommendations for the player.

“This is a brilliant and thoughtful implementation of a clever campaign,” said a Stevie award judge. “Using numerous data points to show how and where to adjust – wonderful example of clarifying value of data in real-time experience.”

SAS, in partnership with McCann New York and their production partner Volvox labs, developed the program.

Special credit to SAS employees from all over the company including Marketing, R&D, Education and Social Innovation as well as the NC State baseball and softball staff, and the Performance Academy in Apex, NC, who hosted the physical smart cage during the program. 

Learn more about The Batting Lab and about how SAS is making an impact in education.

Upchurch inspires technology and operational innovation through thoughtful leadership

As an award-winning and trailblazing CIO, Upchurch has led change initiatives with compassion as he prioritized enhancements in SAS’ internal operations, and customer and employee satisfaction.

Since becoming CIO at SAS and leader of SAS Cloud, Upchurch has relentlessly pursued operational efficiency through the implementation of new technologies and the retirement of old ones. A cloud-first champion, he led SAS’ move to the cloud. As a result, the company eliminated technology debt and increased global standardization across its enterprise. It also has provided customer-facing benefits, like faster access to SAS’ technology innovations, overhead cost reductions due to the elimination of on-premises hosting, and lower barriers to entry. Under his leadership, SAS Cloud has seen double-digit growth for three consecutive years and has become one of the fastest-growing parts of SAS’ business.

Upchurch’s strategy is also customer-centric. Externally, he has executed a global location strategy that enhances the customer experience by providing “always-on” 24/7 support. This expands SAS’ commitment to customer safety and security through continuous monitoring, management and expansion of its world-class security operations.

Internally, Upchurch has transformed SAS IT culture to have a service provider mindset when assisting employees. Through the rollout of an extensive knowledge base to provide better self-service assistance, a 24/7 Employee Service Desk and the implementation of business relationship managers, he has helped IT to listen, learn and be empathetic to the needs of employees. IT can now identify problems more quickly and suggest technology or new processes as a more efficient solution.

“It’s exciting to see more business leaders realizing that business strategy and technology strategy are forever intertwined,” said Upchurch. “And when executed together, it can lead to sustainable competitive advantages and long-term business resiliency.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the global team that helps SAS and its customers apply cloud, AI and other emerging technologies to not only operate but thrive in today’s rapidly changing digital world.”

About the Stevie Awards

Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.

About SAS

SAS is a global leader in data and AI. With SAS software and industry-specific solutions, organizations transform data into trusted decisions. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

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