SAS Ramps Up Marketing Automation Efforts

Ramping up its marketing automation efforts, SAS formed a 34-member team focused on selling marketing automation software, such as campaign management, customer analytics and warehousing. SAS decided to create the practice due to what it perceived as a growing interest in marketing automation, often considered a second citizen to salesforce automation (SFA) and customer-service automation, the company claims. "A lot of folks started focusing on SFA and call-center automation," says Nelle Schantz, global strategies and program manager at SAS. "Customers are realizing that they bought these huge systems to automate front-end pieces but need some intelligence to leverage these even more." The worldwide market for marketing automation application software is expected to grow to $1.94 billion in software licenses and maintenance revenue by the end of 2006, up from $1.12 billion last year, according to market researcher IDC. SAS already has more than 40 customers using its marketing automation software, including Sprint and First National Bank of South America. Moreover, SAS posted $1.13 billion in revenue last year, with CRM accounting for $83.5 million. Most of SAS's sales flow through its 700-plus worldwide salesforce, says Schantz. And SAS's new marketing automation practice -- the first specialized sales practice in the company's long history -- will work within the larger sales group, as well as with systems integrators such as IBM Global Services. The SAS announcement signals a strong commitment to the marketing automation space, says Schantz, and does not include any changes to the product line. But Bob Blumstein, research director of CRM analytics and marketing applications at IDC, believes SAS's new practice represents a very visible move from pure analytics to operations. "It's a smart move," he says. "SAS is best known for its analytics, and it's important for companies to place themselves more in the loop." Moreover, marketing automation is the knot that ties the CRM loop together -- "it's the brains of the entire operation," Blumstein says. Sure, there's less dollars being thrown at marketing automation software than at SFA or customer-service automation software. "But how do you make the ultimate decision of who to go after, who is going to churn and where shall I spend my dollars? These are marketing decisions that pass through to sales and contact centers," says Blumstein, adding, "And SAS is in the business of helping companies make intelligent decisions." A sales team focused on marketing automation software has other advantages, too. SAS has traditionally targeted academia and the scientific community, says Blumstein. With marketing automation, "you're going after people that are more right-brained," he says. "This might merit a special salesforce that can talk to them."
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