CARY – SAS’s annual analytics conference is going virtual.

The Cary-based software analytics firm said it has “reimagined” its SAS Global Forum in the age of coronavirus, and will now stream live – and for free – the event on May 19 and June 16.

“The pandemic continues to affect all of us in profound ways, and we had to rethink the way we go about our work and our lives,” said Oliver Schabenberger, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief technology officer of SAS, in a statement. “At SAS, we reimagined SAS Global Forum and created a new virtual experience that informs and inspires members of the business and analytics community as they navigate change and disruption.”

Designed to bring together SAS users, executives, partners and academics from around the world, SAS said this year’s forum will mark the ‘first-ever virtual analytics event of this scale.’

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It will cover the latest advances in AI, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more, with 80 sessions, a virtual Quad experience, super demos, and educational and training offerings – all from the convenience and safety of their own desktops.

An additional 45 sessions will debut on May 19, including user, executive and partner sessions, SAS presentations and tutorials. That program will also feature a keynote by frontline ER physician Ryan McGarry, MD, co-creator and Executive Producer of the Netflix series Pandemic, providing an insider’s look at the worst pandemic since the Great Flu of 1918.

On June 16, meanwhile, attendees can personalize and tailor their virtual experience from a variety of program content spanning technologies, solutions and industries. And just for fun, the experience will also be gamified, with activities throughout the day.

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Other highlights: a special containers seminar, where attendees will learn more about key technologies, functionalities and benefits of containers and images; and the annual Student Symposium, showcasing and awarding postsecondary students’ analytic skills in solving a real-world problem of their choosing.

New this year, SAS will also offer an Executive Connection, bringing together industry leaders to initiate an exchange of critical insights for navigating the COVID-19 crisis. During these sessions, attendees will learn how data and analytics help keep business’ doors open, supply chains moving and resources optimized.