SAS Looks to Add Number Crunching to E-Biz

SAN MATEO (04/03/2000) - SAS Institute this year is looking to greatly expand its Web presence, giving customers a foundation of data analysis for CRM (customer relationship management) and e-commerce applications.

SAS is developing server-side, Java-based application frameworks that will let companies build traditional decision-support capabilities, including reporting and data mining, into e-business applications.

The frameworks can tie in to existing e-commerce applications or form a complete Web application platform. They use Java server pages and in-memory database technology for faster access than traditional relational databases.

The new applications, which will be ready at the end of the year, will provide "real-time analytics on what's going on at your Web site so you can get a visual picture of what pages are being hit, what items are being ordered," explained Jim Goodnight, president and CEO of SAS. "We're doing a lot of work right now to make our analytics useful to a Web site, to make them easier to use," Goodnight said.

Customers that are compiling clickstream data, such as what site visitors search for, said that faster data access is badly needed in Web environments where gathering tens of gigabytes a day is not unusual.

"Business is moving so fast we can't wait for paper reports or people to crunch numbers. Slow response time on something like advertising campaigns can mean a lost opportunity," said George Nassef, executive vice president and CIO of HotJobs.com, in New York.

SAS will also look to extend its Web marketing capabilities this week through a partnership with profiling company Engage.

By May, customers will be able to take information from Engage's Profile Server, which tracks visitor behavior and builds a customer profile, and feed that information into SAS's eDiscovery application. By integrating the two products, companies will be able to design marketing campaigns or promotions for customers across their different sales and support channels, according to SAS officials.

The data-mining capabilities in the core SAS product will allow companies to interact with customers in more sophisticated ways, SAS officials said. One current SAS customer agreed.

"We have data on our customers now and we're starting to push toward the goal of customizing the Web site to the customer during a visit," said Dan Bachman, director of business intelligence at Outpost.com, in Kent, Conn. "The ultimate step is to recognize that the customer is not acting as history [indicates he or she would] and change the information on the fly."

To address the growing number of mobile users that are eager to access Web data, SAS next week at its user conference will announce support for the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol).

Publishing data over WAP will allow companies to deliver corporate information to a range of mobile devices, including Palm PDAs (personal digital assistants), and Nokia phones.

SAS Institute, in Cary, N.C., is at www.sas.com.

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