What is Business Intelligence in SAS?

Category: B2B News

1. What is SAS?

SAS or Statistical Analysis System is a suite of enterprise systems developed by SAS Institute for different analytics aspects. The systems encompass a wide range of business intelligence including multivariate analysis, predictive analytics, advanced analytics and data management.

SAS was started in the sixties and through the seventies as a project at the North Carolina State University. In 1976, SAS Institute was founded, which developed the project into a full enterprise product for large companies. Throughout the decades, new functionalities were added as new technologies arrived, such as, JMP, point-and-click UI and, as recent as in 2010, social media analytics.

2. What is SAS Institute?

SAS Institute is the vendor of SAS, the system, but the company is also often referred to as SAS. It’s a multinational American software company based in Cary, North Carolina. It is claimed to be the largest privately held software business worldwide preferred by Fortune 500 companies.

The company started as a government-funded statistical analysis project at North Carolina State University, before it was incorporated as a private business in 1976. It continued the project as an enterprise suite for corporations.

3. What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence or BI is a set of processes, strategies, solutions, technologies, and systems for data collection, analysis and management. It aims to generate business insights that aid in executive decisions and strategic planning.

Commonly called BI, it is leveraged now by even small businesses with the help of scalable and affordable cloud BI solutions. These tools feature historical, current and predictive data analytics that help companies improve operational efficiency and overall business competitiveness. Now that let’s answer our main question: what is business intelligence in SAS? You can read more about what is the purpose of business intelligence in a separate article.

4. What is business intelligence in SAS?

Simply put, it’s a set of enterprise business intelligence tools developed by SAS (apps for small and midsize businesses are available). These tools are further segregated into specific purposes, such as: fraud & security intelligence, supply chain intelligence, customer intelligence, decision management, data management and risk management.

Business intelligence in SAS products are also packaged by industry, such as for automotive, banking, consumer goods, defense & security, healthcare and utilities. Solutions for educators and students are also provided by the vendor, namely, SAS Academic Programs that help learning institutions create degree programs, build courses, grant certificates and develop their network of SAS users.

Visual insights as seen on SAS analytics GUI.

5. What are the features of business intelligence in SAS?

Business intelligence in SAS comes in many forms and bundled by product or solution. Likewise, SAS packages vertical BI tools for different industries. The main business intelligence and analytics features include:

  • Visual data exploration
  • Easy analytics
  • Interactive reporting and dashboards
  • Collaboration
  • Mobile access

SAS also offers solutions with specific focus.These include:

  • Advanced analytics – features data mining, statistical analysis, forecasting, text analytics, optimization and simulation
  • Customer intelligence – features analytical marketing, customer journey optimization, real-time customer experience
  • Fraud & Security Intelligence – features fraud improper and improper payments, regulatory compliance, public security, cybersecurity
  • Data management – data integration & access, data quality, data preparation for Hadoop, data governance & MDM, event stream processing
  • Decision management – authoring environment, multiple environments, impact analysis, data integration with other SAS systems
  • Personal data protection – single data interface, big data integration, access to audit, risk, monitor reports
  • Risk management – features regulatory risk management, enterprise stress testing, credit risk management, governance & compliance, insurance risk management
  • Solutions for Hadoop – integrates with Hadoop for big data analytics including data scoring, predictive analysis and data visualization
  • Small and midsize business – features scalable and budget-customized plans for small and medium companies
  • Supply chain intelligence – features supply & demand planning, product & process quality, aftermarket service

If not all features you were expecting are listed above you may want to check out our GoodData alternative guide for more reliable BI software options.

6. What are the benefits of business intelligence?

You can use the insights generated by SAS business intelligence tools for long-term and short-term goals and across organizational tasks. The main benefit is that you generate insights; however you use the knowledge can be applied in different ways, such as:

  • Apply data-driven information to strategic planning including for supply management, operational processes, forecasting and business development
  • See the big picture of key performance metrics to gauge business health
  • Mine and process data in real time for day-to-day operational insights
  • Discover insights, bottlenecks, inefficiencies and address them
  • Highlight patterns and dimensions to market trends and customer behavior
  • Anticipate, prevent or manage risks
  • Identify fraudulent patterns, track transactional trails and security risks

SAS also provides the framework to help you:

  • Present visual reports that are digestible to various audience
  • Work closely with other teams using centralized data source, collaboration platform and shared tools
  • Scale features from small business BI tools to enterprise systems

7. What are SAS business intelligence tools?

Business intelligence in SAS are packaged for specific uses and target users. Here are the SAS products in the market today:

  • SAS/STAT – designed for specialized and organizational-wide statistical analysis
  • SAS Analytics Pro – combines SAS, SAS/STAT and SAS/GRAPH features
  • SAS Curriculum Pathways – targets educators and students for K-12 and up
  • SAS Customer Intelligence 360 – features a unified platform for market and customer analysis and powered by predictive analytics
  • SAS Cloud Analytics – cloud-deployed, on-demand access to SAS features
  • SAS Data Management – integrates and manages your various data sources
  • SAS Enterprise Miner – automates operational decision processes with tracking and sharing tools
  • SAS Grid Manager – manages your grid computing environment for efficient processing and workload balance
  • SAS Visual Analytics – features self-service analytics, visual data discovery and interactive reporting
  • SAS Visual Statistics – generates predictive and descriptive models for insight discovery
  • Foundation Tools – provides the integrated infrastructure for SAS products

8. What is the difference between business intelligence in SAS and other tools?

The business intelligence software landscape today is replete with new players that leverage cloud computing, social networks, and mobile technology. Then you have the legacy vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Among the various BI solutions in the market today, SAS stands out for its sheer experience, technical knowledge and industry dominance in the field of business intelligence. Here are its main differences from its newer  and smaller competitors:

  • It’s one of the most comprehensive suites of BI tools designed for different goals, users and industries
  • It features top-level functionalities that service Fortune 500 corporations
  • It’s widely used in industry, science, government, defense and academia
  • It has extensive experience in business intelligence dating back to technological predecessors from the sixties, seventies, eighties and throughout the nineties
  • It has a comprehensive set of customer intelligence tools for web, social media and marketing analytics
  • Its top-tier BI tools for fraudulent transactions are considered an industry benchmark

9. Where do you use business intelligence in SAS?

There are plenty of strategic and tactical uses of business intelligence in SAS. Even marketing is increasingly dependent on business analytics as consumers become hyper connected and expect real-time engagement. A SAS product marketing manager underscores this shift when he said marketing “has changed more in the past two years than it has in the past 50 years.” The underlying functions are reporting and dashboards, data visualization, data consolidation, collaboration and accessibility. These in mind, you can use business intelligence in SAS for:

  • Executive reports
  • Visual presentations
  • Big data analyses
  • Data-driven decisions
  • Strategic planning
  • Process enhancement
  • Operational efficiency
  • Market analysis
  • Customer profiling
  • Company-wide collaboration
  • Field access via cloud

10. How do you implement business intelligence in SAS?

A study by Dresner Advisory Services revealed that 59% of business intelligence projects fail. Causes include: lack of clear goals for using BI, failure to communicate BI along departmental objectives and low user adoption because the system is difficult to understand.

To help ensure your BI project succeeds, experienced project managers recommend a phased-approach versus the traditional all-in-one rollout by the I.T. team. Here’s how you can pace the implementation:

  • Identify the requirements of all stakeholders. You should sit down with teams and discuss how business intelligence can help address specific aspects of their work. Different departments, teams, business units and employees will have different perspectives of business intelligence based on their needs, so it’s critical that your starting point is to know their needs and requirements.
  • Group the requirements into key business areas. As you’re bombarded with varying requirements by different departments, you should group the requirements into meaningful ways. This gives a logical structure to their needs and avoid disparate expectations across the organization. You can further break down the structure into bite-size business areas as you drill down from strategic to day-to-day requirements.
  • Roll out in phases. It’s better to apply a series of iterative rollouts than implementing everything at once. In such case, you should prioritize rollout on areas where business intelligence makes the most impact. Why? You make a big splash on the merits of your BI project and convince non-believers. But it’s also important that rolling out on key business aspects first keeps you focused on the BI system’s most essential functions. You can also gradually introduce small iterations to address stumbling blocks along the way.
  • Schedule rollouts. Prioritizing rollouts depends on different factors. The main metrics should be where BI makes the most impact. But you may also adjust the rollout based on which teams are ready, with time and dedication to adopt your project. You can also start with teams that already have data sources and analytics in place; the learning curve will be shorter. Pick the best route on how the rollouts should be organized, then stick to a calendar.
  • Validate and revalidate. The rollouts should have enough elbow room in between so you have time to validate the processes and address potential issues. It can be days, weeks, even months, depending on the BI project’s complexity and urgency. You should scrutinize closely data integrity throughout the rollout, as this will be the foundation of the reports and insights generated by the BI system. How does the team enter data? Where do they source data? How is data protected from unauthorized access? You’ll be busy testing and retesting BI outputs around different situations until you’re convinced the data is solid.

11. What are the potential problems in business intelligence?

  • Huge capital cost. SAS as the market leader in business analytics favored by the biggest corporations and government agencies is also one of the most expensive BI suites. While client-specific pricing are confidential, you can expect to spend around $9,000 per user annually. Some claim 28% of upfront fees goes to licensing alone and then you’re required to pay for yearly license. Likewise, rates may differ for users, consultants or a service provider. However, when you think about the comprehensive suite of BI tools you’re getting, and from a reputable market leader at that, business intelligence in SAS becomes a best-value-for-money investment.
  • High learning curve. This applies to average users who don’t have coding skills. But if you have basic programming knowledge, especially on SQL, you’ll find SAS somewhat easy with a solid GUI interface. For average users, they can rely on learning resources like tutorial videos and guides, or they can learn from SAS training institutes, which come with a cost.
  • Compromised data. This isn’t the fault of the SAS system per se, but it can affect system performance if you enter inaccurate data. In general, BI solutions are only as good as the data you enter. Unless you’re sure your data is solid, using BI-generated reports, insights and forecasts for your business decisions may prove fatal. The good news is, SAS have security checks and oversight controls in its systems to ensure only authorized users have access to sensitive information. You also get to control permissions in different levels to provide quick access to different users, while safeguarding confidential data behind firewalls.

In Summary

We hope we’ve answered your question–What is business intelligence in SAS? including other key aspects of this software. It’s one of the biggest BI solutions in the market with advanced analytics and a suite of tools guaranteed to help you gain insights on how to improve your business efficiency and market competitiveness.  

Nestor Gilbert

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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