For many years, the cost and risk of deploying business intelligence/analytics applications meant only the largest enterprise companies could afford them. However, in recent years, major BI platform companies, such as SAS, have crafted analytics solutions packages for midsize enterprises and small and midsize businesses.
“The speed of business is changing,” explains Annette Green, vice president of sales for the Commercial Business Unit of SAS Americas. “If you don’t have data available immediately, the decision-makers get really frustrated. Especially when data preparation takes too long, or they need to answer a question and don’t have access to the information they need.” Often, SAS clients have only small information technology departments—sometimes just one person in total. But the business users in those companies still need to get at data and perform analysis and reporting. That’s where SAS’ self-service solutions set comes in. “It’s designed for anyone, from the most novice of users to someone analytically savvy,” she says.
Data Visualization: The Fast Road To Analysis
SAS’ approach relies heavily on data visualization, a type of query environment that enables end users to load data into the tool easily. The users can immediately start visualization processes and begin looking for insight.
It’s not like traditional BI, which requires the complex and tedious processes of defining relationships and filtering data based on pre-defined values. “You can click on tables and columns and names and variables and then, using charts and other graphics, you can perform things such as joins without spending a lot of time preparing the data,” says Green.
Analytics That Cross Industries And End-User Roles
The tools are applicable in virtually any industry that uses any type of data: Internet of Things information, customer transaction data and so on. SAS’ tools can perform relatively simple functions, such as basic reporting. They also can handle highly complex tasks that require data mining to detect subtle patterns—ones that emerge over months and years.
How the applications are leveraged depends on the end user’s technical chops. “You can look for phrases most frequently used in a Twitter stream,” she says, “from text-based documents generated from a call center log. You can discern between good customer feedback and bad feedback.”
Customer Choices And Relieving The IT/BI Burden
For deployment, there are a variety of options and licenses to choose from. You can use a single Windows-based server to run the tool in an on-premises deployment. Or you can leverage Amazon Web Services for public/private cloud deployment. SAS also integrates with popular productivity platforms, such as Microsoft Office.
This doesn’t replace internal IT at midsize enterprises. Rather, says Green, “It’s a way for IT to easily protect and manage the BI/analytics environment, the visualization processes, as well as the integrity of the data.”