SAS pitches for solutions sales

SAS Institute Inc. on Monday announced updates to seven of its analytic software solutions.

The solutions are part of a shift at SAS to move from selling BI (business intelligence) tools to more complete solutions that target a particular business problem, according to Jim Davis, chief marketing officer at SAS, in Cary, N.C.

"What we've done here is taken our products and begun to treat them as solutions," Davis said.

The solutions are aimed at strategic performance management, enterprise marketing automation, supplier relationship management, financial planning and analysis, human capital management, and e-information management.

The news reflects a broader trend where a number of BI companies have been taking the solutions approach to analytics, said Henry Morris, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp.

"A lot of the focus in analytics has been around ranking customers and segmenting them. To do that, you first have to get all the information tied together," Morris said.

Davis added that the solutions combined with SAS' analytics enables more than just picking up on past data to spot trends.

"We're not only doing historical reporting but, more important, we're looking ahead and doing predictive analysis," Davis added.

SAS reports that although the solutions are not based on entirely new software, it has upgraded the products' feature sets:

-- The Strategic Vision solution includes enhanced Web reporting and data access capabilities.

-- The latest version of SAS for EMA (Enterprise Marketing Automation) includes new e-mail distribution capabilities.

-- The SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) product includes new supplier ranking capabilities and enhanced analysis and scorecarding.

-- A new budgeting and planning component, SAS for Total Financial Management, helps executives align strategic objectives and performance measures with reliable planning and allocation of resources.

-- HR Vision now comes equipped with a Web interface so that users can tap into analytics for performance measures to be used in strategic planning.

-- WebHound, an information management system that integrates back office and front office systems, has improved trending and data mining for predicting customer value and measuring marketing effectiveness.

-- The newest version of Enterprise Guide has new features for project management and OLAP (online analytical processing) navigation.

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