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Posted by John Brand on July 19, 2013
A number of my colleagues and I attended the recent global SAS analyst event to understand the future of SAS’s business and technology strategy. It was clear to me from this event that SAS is attempting to bridge the increasing divide between “traditional” analytics and the big data and cloud-based analytics worlds.
Here’s a few of our key observations and takeaways from the event:
SAS has clearly mastered the art of productising its portfolio of broad capabilities. It still has 250+ products on its price list – and as my colleague Mark Bartrick points out in his report “A Quick Guide To Help You Prepare For A SAS Software Negotiation” this makes it incredibly difficult to determine comparative pricing for similar products. Particularly since SAS still sells analytic capabilities - not completely pre-packaged analytic applications. Nonetheless, SAS has built a reputation and loyal client base focusing on addressing business-driven analytics, not technology-led report management. This is a good thing.
SAS’s main challenge now is broadening its penetration into existing clients accounts. It's still common for SAS implementations and operational teams to be “outliers” that exist outside traditional IT and not quite within the business. In selling a more technology led vision for big data and cloud based analytics, SAS risks diluting its business focused analytic messaging. In serving only business needs, it risks missing out on the growing market around key emerging technology trends. We expect SAS to continue winning new clients but the company will struggle to manage the lengthening sales cycles as it tries to expand the portfolio within existing clients. Version upgrading will therefore be a major focus in the initial stages.
The bottom line – SAS remains well positioned for growth. Improving business analytics has always been somewhere in the top quartile of most CIO’s strategic agendas. However,actually improving business analytics is becoming more of an opportunity for SAS’s key business partners, rather than a project driven by internal enterprise IT. So, as long as SAS maintains a balance between its own services and those provided by partners, the company will continue to grow.
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