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SAS product portfolio and roadmaps


Warning, long post follows – SAS has a lot of products and even this summary was a lot. A big session on the product portfolio – 2010 and 2011 highlights in some specific focus areas. New releases in 2010 included:

  • Customer Link Analytics – released in Q1 this product focused on using links between customers to identify key influencers to improve marketing and sales
  • Social Media Analytics was launched in Q2
  • Rapid Predictive Modeler (part of Enterprise Miner) was released in Q3
  • High performance markdown optimization and offer optimization in Q4 along with the new Fraud framework across healthcare, banking, insurance and government.

2011 has some interesting items. By quarter:

  1. Customer Intelligence, Fraud Management updates and new product for Health and Condition Management (aimed at Payers to help them push people into wellness programs).
  2. Risk Management for Banking and Risk Management for Insurance
  3. SAS 9.3 (fit to IT and high performance computing are a focus) plus updates to analytics, BI, Customer Analytics and Credit Scoring for banking.
  4. New product for Contact Center Planning and Operations as well as updates in Enterprise Case Management, Forecasting, GRC, Performance Management, Fraud and several optimization products

SAS has a two part mobile and tablet strategy – one around pushing BI onto mobile devices and another focus on “fit to task” capabilities for specific applications. The mobile BI work is nicely done, allowing existing reports and assets to be exposed to a mobile client app. It pushes new reports down to the device, integrates the content and security with the core SAS stack etc.

Next up was a demonstration of the retail space planning application on the iPad. This has a rotatable 3D version of the planogram along with some ability to drill into data – flagging products that are underperforming for instance. Focused on a district or regional manager, someone watching multiple stores. Sadly a very simplistic demo that tried to use cute graphics when the underlying scenarios were ones that demanded automation not graphics. Also somewhat disappointing that the “fit for task” UI still assumes a VERY rich UI on the mobile device, not taking account of the huge number of SMS phones out there.

Data Management is a big focus for SAS and the 2011 roadmap had lots of improvement across the product portfolio. Data management cross the specific Dataflux community as well as the SAS analytics/application portfolio. The roadmap brings more capabilities around semi-structured and unstructured data as well as around event processing/streaming data.

Business Intelligence in 2011 focused on a big release in Q3. This will focus on mobile and tablet devices, exposing more advanced analytics in consumer-like interfaces (letting people consume the results of advanced analytics) and business visualization – the new BI user. SAS’ plan is to take their Designer/Visualizer tools as well as their collaboration and data services and generate Packages that can be viewed and interacted with on lots of different platforms whether new Apple devices, Flash, Android or Microsoft Office. This approach means that recent efforts to present BI on iPad, for instance, was not a massive amount of work as it could reuse this basic architecture.

Business visualization is SAS’ way of talking about new business users who want to explore and iterate through their data – thinking up hypotheses, working on them, sharing and collaborating around them. This is very collaborative and quite different from traditional BI. SAS is developing (and demonstrated) a nice, flexible, drag and drop interface for this kind of approach that will be part of the Q3 release.

Analytics has a big release in Q3 – 9.3 – with a high performance data mining release in Q4. Key themes are innovation in algorithms, high performance for speed and scale and workflow for operationalizing analytics. Algorithm innovation includes things like high frequency forecasting where hourly, daily, weekly, monthly variations must all be considered. Optimization is another area of focus as problems get more complex and turn-around times for optimization results get shorter.

The high performance data mining release is going to allow high-end data mining and predictive analytic tasks to be distributed across multiple systems using an analytic appliance – partnering with Greenplum and Teradata.

Operationalizing analytics is key to getting value – must be able to push models into operational systems to get value from them. Model Manager is getting an update to better manage the workflow of deployment and monitoring. An additional area is a focus on business rules to help really operationalize these models once they are deployed, turning models into decisions.

Customer intelligence is a big focus area for SAS at the moment and was one of the drivers for the recent Assetlink acquisition. Assetlink was a company they knew well and gives them a good tool to expand into the Integrated Marketing Management space along with some great customers and a presence in B2B marketing. Beyond Assetlink the Customer Intelligence team just released a major update (5.4). The 2012 release is a big effort to bring unified persona-driven interface, mobile, use of SAS analytics throughout as well as multi-channel testing etc.

The Enterprise Financial Crimes Platform is another area of investment. This is platform built from the ground up and is a single, integrated platform with common components across the fraud lifecycle and across different kinds of fraud. Consists of Anti-Money Laundering, Fraud Framework, Enterprise Case Management and Enterprise Fraud Management. The stack takes advantage of SAS’ strength in data access and integration and is moving more advanced analytics earlier in the fraud management process – helping companies move from pay and chase to proactive fraud prevention. SAS has been investing in its case management environment and linking it to their visualization, reporting and analytic capabilities. They are also focusing strongly on ensuring that all kinds of fraud are being managed consistently. This means credit/debit/check fraud in banking or unemployment/worker’s compensation/premium evasion in government. Multiple releases this year including integration of IVR and integration with Teradata. Focus areas include hybrid analytics (rules, anomaly detection, network analysis), real-time authorization and more industry-specific IP.

Finally, some technology directions from CTO Keith Collins.

  1. High performance computing
    Lots of releases around in-database scoring accelerators in 2010 and more to come in 2011 especially around more dynamic scoring processes that handle data transformation and model variable substitution (Aster with Teradata, Netezza, DB2 and maybe Oracle in 2011)
  2. Process automation
    Workflow, business rules and quality. Working on how to manage the different kinds of rules involved in workflow but hoping to have a rules engine that will work across all the SAS applications, CEP and in-database.
  3. Business Visualization
  4. Data Management
  5. SaaS
    Moving their platform towards Platform as a Service so can easily manage and deploy new SaaS products that use the SAS platform. Of course many of these are Decisions as a Service.

Wow. Lots of stuff.


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