SAS, CSC Strike Up Partnership

Much like the heady days of ERP, vendors of complex CRM software are cutting deals with consultants and integrators to bring solutions to market. This week SAS Institute struck up a strategic alliance for a subset of its analytic offerings with tier-one consultancy Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC). The deal calls for CSC's cadre of consultants primarily in North American and Europe to become experts in the latest SAS technology. Of course, SAS and CSC have existing outsourcing agreements and share hundreds of customers around the world. Many of these customers outsource IT operations, including SAS software maintenance and operations, to CSC, the companies claim. Recently, SAS has been expanding its product portfolio outside its traditional academic core competency. As part of a broadened footprint that includes a step into the data warehouse business, the company has been pouring research dollars into building an analytical tool for the marketing community, in hopes of picking up sales in the hot CRM space. SAS's warehousing solution, for instance, converts data into intelligence for supporting operational analysis and decision-making. As SAS grows in breadth, so must its channel relationships. This week's announcement, which took place at the SAS European Users Group International conference in Paris, "is a clear example of SAS's commitment to expanding our third-party channels to deliver complete analytical CRM, strategic performance management, data warehousing, and other business intelligence solutions to meet client needs and provide intelligence to power their success," said Zul Abbany, vice president of alliance development at SAS, in a statement. For consultants, CRM remains as one of the last lucrative areas to drive service revenue, says Karen Smith, research director at Aberdeen Group. The last big integration space was ERP. "With ERP, consultants deployed applications that pretty much stayed the same, whereas CRM needs change every month," Smith says. "It's a bigger opportunity for consultants." Companies like CSC can also ride the hype around CRM failures. That's because failures weren't so much around poor technology as they were around companies not being able to map the technology to business practices, says Smith. And the latter is why companies bring in consultants. Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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