SAS has today announced its new Decision Management product – SAS® Decision Manager . Over recent years SAS sees an increasing focus from clients on using analytics both for strategic decision-making and operational decision-making. Organizations seeking to develop analytic solutions for operational decision-making have historically struggled as there is a high degree of dysfunction resulting from silos in the analytic lifecycle. As you move from discovery to modeling, deployment and monitoring there are hand offs and inefficiencies. For instance a business manager or analyst specifies a need, data scientists try to develop analytic models to meet this need and then have to work with IT to recode this model into something that can be deployed. Testing to confirm that this code matches the model, and that it delivers the business intent, follows. All this means a long time to value for the business – up to 9 months at times. What clients need is an integrated lifecycle supported by a common platform that drives collaboration between business, IT and analytics teams – what I see as the three legged stool of success. And this needs to deliver continuous improvement of the decision-making.
SAS Decision Manager is designed to deliver this environment. A consistent user experience and management environment supports analytics, IT and business people across the whole lifecycle of preparing data, modeling, optimizing, deployment and monitoring. SAS Decision Manager can be deployed in batch, in-database, in-memory, real-time and streaming environments. Specifically SAS Decision Manager:
- Integrates business rules, predictive analytic models and optimization with business processes
- Provides a common decision authoring environment
- Centers decision design around a Decision Flow that supports analysis, simulation and reporting
- Leverages the existing SAS high-performance computing and big data infrastructure
SAS Decision Manager provides a new, project-based collaboration and governance environment and pulls together SAS ® Business Rules Manager (a new product) with existing capabilities including SAS® Visual Data Builder, SAS® Model Manager (review here), SAS® DataFlux® Data Management and SAS® Visual Analytics. Because it runs on the shared SAS platform it can also take advantage of lineage and metadata capabilities, security, monitoring, workflow and scheduling.
A typical user experience with SAS Decision Manager brings all these capabilities into a single browser-based UI. The SAS Visual Data Builder can be used to connect and access a wide range of existing data sources, leveraging any work already done to bring data into the SAS environment. This data can be visualized and explored using SAS Visual Analytics. New models can be developed against this data using tools such as SAS® Enterprise Miner (review here) or SAS® Rapid Predictive Modeler (review here). These models, as well as R or PMML models being managed in Model Manager can be analyzed and compared using the Model Manager functionality.
The decision flow editor is a key element of the new product and is based on the established editor that has been used in the real-time marketing product for some years. Users can add nodes representing analytic models, branches, business rule, sub-flows, A/B splits and more to the flow. Each model has a signature showing the attributes it needs so the data it will need to score a transaction is clear when it is added to the flow.
As well as models, a task in the decision flow can allow business or IT users to specify business rules using a new decision table editor (part of SAS Business Rules Manager). Users can specify rules against the same properties used by the model, the model outputs or other data in the project. These rules can represent policies like maximum values allowed, brands we don’t want to buy or whatever. These rules are then combined with the analytic models in the decision flow to produce decisions that are both analytically accurate and compliant with policies and regulations.
From the Decision Flow a set of data can be run through and the results analyzed and used to refine the rules. Rule log information is also available, important both for regulatory compliance and when analyzing decision behavior for continuous improvement. The decision flow can also be used to walk through the decision one step at a time for a test case. Once everything is ready the decision flow can be deployed and accessed from any other system, from a web page to a legacy application or mobile app.
Taking advantage of existing SAS functionality allows some very powerful impact analysis tools, tracing object relationships from data to model to decision flows for instance, or showing the lineage of data. Data governance and other monitoring/control tools can be applied as the output of these tools is integrated with the SAS platform.
More information on SAS’ Decision Management products can be found here. SAS is one of the vendors in the Decision Management Systems Platform Technologies report.