SAS boosts BI software for enterprise

SAS Institute Inc. made a slew of new announcements Thursday around its next-generation enterprisewide BI (business intelligence) software, including new vertical solutions and industry intelligence models.

The company rolled out new solutions aimed at the banking and telecommunications industries to provide a portfolio of industry-specific packaged applications, embedded domain expertise, and an extendable underlying architecture to give companies a fast track on intelligence and a quicker ROI.

In addition, SAS announced that the latest release of its software -- Release 9.0 due out this summer -- will soon be available for servers based on the forthcoming Intel Corp. Itanium 2 processor. SAS will release a production version of Release 9.0 on both the Microsoft Corp. Windows 64-bit and HPUX 11i operating systems for Itanium 2-based servers later this summer. Intel plans to introduce the Intel Itanium 2 processor mid-year.

SAS also announced a new global strategic alliance with Computer Sciences to develop and deliver BI solutions for analytical CRM, strategic performance management, and data warehousing for public and private sector clients.

Finally, SAS announced the addition of activity-based costing functionality to its existing customer intelligence solutions, designed to enable companies to gain a complete and accurate picture of customer profitability. The announcement follows the acquisition of ABC Technologies in March.

All of these announcements were made at the SAS European Users Group International conference in Paris.

Initial application for the new Industry Intelligence Solutions will include credit scoring, customer retention and segmentation, cross-and-up-selling, and marketing automation as well as a strategic performance management application designed to help organizations track their overall performance.

"What we're doing is allowing companies within these industries to take this solution and get it up and running a lot faster," said Nell Schantz, SAS global strategist and CRM program director. "A lot of the planning, a lot of the warehousing time has been greatly reduced. It will give them a lot faster ROI."

While many vendors are touting analytical CRM offerings, most are offering only basic reporting, Schantz said.

"That's not the type of analytics that we're talking about," she said. "We're talking about doing some in-depth analysis on which of your customers is likely to leave or what is the propensity for a customer to buy a certain product."

The industry solutions include a common data model that defines business entities and processes for the given industry. As the foundation, the industry-specific data model ensures rapid integration and implementation of the application components as well as the sharing of consistent and accurate information across the enterprise, according to SAS officials.

SAS' newest industry-specific solutions underscore the company's continued success in calibrating its powerful analytic and data management software with the changing needs of enterprises, said Bob Moran, an analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston. The new industry solutions clearly demonstrate a strong commitment to provide software that speaks the language of specific industries and that solves their unique pains, he addedThe new industry solutions are currently available. The next industry solution -- aimed at insurance companies -- is due in September.

New features in Version 9 include:

-- Multi-threading technology designed to optimize computing resources to allow more number crunching with the same computing power.

-- A standard development platform that makes shared services available to SAS and non-SAS programmers to speed development time.

-- An improved intelligence portal designed to allow companies to share intelligence gleaned from analysis more readily.

-- Advanced analytical functionality including text mining and parallel data mining.

-- A new Java-based interface will streamline the consistent look and feel of SAS and extend user access capabilities.