SAS Looks to Answer Complex Data-Driven Questions

SAN FRANCISCO--Companies have moved from standard business intelligence to fact-based decision-making.

That was the predominant theme expressed by business analytics software and services company SAS during today's keynote presentations at the SAS Global Forum Executive Conference 2013 here.

Like most companies, SAS customer company JPMorgan Chase has found that its financial customers are looking for insights to satisfy such business problems as "how transaction velocities impact customer sentiment," said Chris Gifford, senior vice president of customer analytics for JPMorgan Chase, during an opening night session. "Each customer's data footprint continues to grow, and the types of questions we're asked now are much more complex."

Similarly, customer company Lenovo, which manufactures computer hardware and electronics, is looking to new SAS Visual Analytics to determine and optimize its marketing spending in real time and by geographic region and channel for its May rollout of the touch-screen device IdeaPad Yoga 11S.

Between retail store transactions and myriad sources of digital data, "people are driving a tremendous amount of cross-interactions," said Ajit Sivadasan, global vice president and general manager of sales and marketing for Lenovo. "The bottom line is, we have a lot of data and we don't know what to do with it." Using SAS Visual Analytics, Lenovo's goal is to be able to visualize how data models are reacting to different marketing campaigns, and be empowered to alter advertising messages or content on the fly.

One update SAS has made to accommodate requests in line with Lenovo's is the launch of the SAS 9.4 business analytics and visualization suite, available as an on-premises, hosted, or cloud solution, expected to ship this June. According to Randy Guard, SAS' vice president of product management, a large number of clients are deploying private clouds and want to be able to scale their deployments quickly. SAS Visual Analytics was one of the first products to integrate with SAS 9.4, and Guard says it has added the "capability to do a scenario analysis and the ability to do "what if' and rerun forecasts.

Also launching today is a new version of SAS Customer Intelligence, which underwent a complete facelift with "a lot of under-the-hood" improvements in navigation to help integrate analytics processes into a line-of-business functionality specially designed for marketers, according to Wilson Raj, SAS' global director of customer intelligence. In combining a series of products like SAS Marketing Automation, Marketing Optimization, SAS Real-Time Decision Manager, and SAS Digital Marketing into one Web-based application, business users can fully create, manage, measure, and tweak multichannel campaigns. New email templates and controls were designed to simplify campaign management. As Raj puts it, "When we talk about optimization, it's not just about making [the product] faster." It's "looking at constraints" for a marketer, such as knowing the precise time to target a campaign and conversely, when to halt an action in a given channel to "modify these on the fly and execute accordingly."

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