To BI Or Not To BI — That Is The Question For SAS

First of all, congratulations, SAS AR team, for one of the most efficiently and effectively run events.

SAS needs to make up its mind whether it wants to be in the BI game or not. Despite what SAS’s senior executives have been heard saying occasionally, that “BI is dead,” SAS is not quite done with BI. After all, BI makes up 11% of SAS’s very impressive $2.4 billion annual revenue (with uninterrupted 35-year growth!). Additionally BI contributed 22% to SAS 2010 growth,  just below analytics at 26%.

Even though some organizations are looking at and implementing advanced analytics such as statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and — most important — model-based decisions, there are only a handful of them. As our BI maturity survey shows year after year, BI — even basic BI — maturity is still below average in most enterprises. Add these numbers to the abysmal enterprise BI applications penetration levels in most large organizations, and you get continued, huge, and ever-expanding opportunity that no vendor in its right mind, especially a vendor with leading BI tools, should miss.

There’s also an issue of competitive threat. Stack versus best of breed is not a key decision point for BI buyers anymore. Yes, most large enterprises look for best-of-breed solutions and tools, but stack vendors do offer best-of-breed BI and analytics tools today after all of the recent acquisitions. I get many client inquiries asking me whether their decision to roll out SAP or Oracle ERP applications should influence their BI decision (yes, it should), or whether a client running IBM Cognos should consider SPSS. I have never gotten an inquiry asking me whether an analytical solution should drive BI platform decisions. Therefore, IMHO, if SAS does not reinvigorate its BI platform positioning, marketing, and sales, it’ll slowly but surely feel more and more squeezed by the competition.

It’s really just a matter of marketing and priorities for SAS. It already does have a very broad, comprehensive, and leading enterprise BI platform. It is also adding all of the right features in its future versions such as mobile (see today’s announcement on partnership with Roambi), collaborative BI (very nice integration with Outlook coming soon), BI SaaS, and in-memory analytics. It just needs to re-emphasize BI, incentivize its sales force, and go to market strongly.


A matter of labels

Yup, to BI or not to BI, for SAS is a question the marketers at SAS have been struggling with for years... while the product folks have been busy creating BI solutions that meet critical market needs.

In the end, SAS has clearly decided time and again, yes, to BI. It seems the real question has become "To call it BI or not to call it BI."


Yes, good point.

Yes, good point.

Boris, Good post..... I feel


Good post.....

I feel that SAS is trying to position itself as an "verticalized industry solutions company" by merely walking away from BI. IMHO....saying that "we are not a BI company" (because other vendors like IBM / SAP / ORCL are moving into this space with good stacks) is not going to automagically position them in that verticalized business solution spaces. BI is still a critical / integral part of any "business solution" (particularly human centric intelligence) and mere advanced analytics (algorithmic centric intelligence) CANNOT "transform the world". My 2 cents!



Advanced analytics is clearly

Advanced analytics is clearly their strength and that's what they are concentrating on. I just feel that they are big enough that they can do both - advanced analytics and BI - and not sacrifice either one. Tough for a smaller vendor who needs to prioritize and focus, but should not be that tough for a $2.4B company.