SAS Moves to Statistically Enhance E-business

SAN MATEO (01/28/2000) - SAS Institute Inc., through its latest and existing business partnerships, is looking to push its well-known brand of business intelligence into several new fronts such as CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), and what it's calling SRM (supplier relationship management).

Underlying all of these efforts is the vendor's need to play a greater role in the Web market space by providing capabilities for online, real-time business intelligence, said Bill Bradway, CRM practice director at Meridien Research, in Newton, Mass. "If they're not working on it, they're missing an opportunity," he said.

For its CRM efforts, SAS does foresee an opportunity to further leverage a recently unveiled agreement with IBM via existing partnerships with the likes of Siebel Systems and SAP, said Marianna Suciu, vice president of U.S. commercial sales at SAS. Expanded efforts in this area could enhance SAS's ability to address analytics for such areas as CRM and ERP, Suciu said.

"I definitely see an opportunity to link these systems and have them talk," Suciu said. "Obviously a triangular relationship would be advantageous to customers."

An SAS-IBM-Siebel trio to bring real-time business intelligence to the Web is likely to be a clear win for Siebel, not SAS, because Siebel gains from both vendors, Bradway said.

It's not as clear-cut for IBM and SAS, which offer competing business-intelligence products, and if there is significant overlap between the two it could cause problems, Bradway said.

SAS and IBM downplayed the potential for such conflicts.

SAS next month at a CRM trade show in Chicago is expected to detail the pricing and packaging for its "e-Intelligence" initiative, which was previewed at the last Gartner Group Symposium.

The new SAS alliance with IBM may help pave the way for acceptance of the SAS statistical analysis software in new areas. SAS will be teaming with IBM's business-intelligence group to offer consulting services and integrated e-business applications based on SAS software and IBM's DB2 database.

Announced last week at IBM's PartnerWorld 2000 conference, the three-year deal is intended to yield a consulting practice within IBM Global Services centered on SAS applications; tighter integration between SAS software and DB2 running on IBM servers; and a pipeline of SAS software to fuel IBM Global Services' business intelligence, data warehousing, and decision support efforts.

"I would put this [in terms of importance] along the same lines as our Siebel and SAP partnerships," said Robert Puicini, managing principal of IBM's business intelligence consulting and services.

SAS will furnish analysis software for CRM, ERP, and SRM, while IBM will contribute analytical services, systems integration, and vertical industry e-business intelligence consulting, the companies' officials said.

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

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