SAS unveils new BI platform, apps

SAS Institute unveiled its SAS 9 business intelligence platform on Tuesday. It includes data integration, enhanced analytics, and...

SAS Institute unveiled its SAS 9 business intelligence platform on Tuesday.

It includes data integration, enhanced analytics and refined user interfaces designed to drive BI beyond simple querying, reporting and analysing of past performance to a more predictive tool that can be leveraged across the enterprise for critical decision-making.

SAS also explained plans for a slew of new applications designed to leverage the platform, including suites for marketing automation, financial management, strategic performance management, and supplier relationship management.

The platform includes data integration through the SAS Enterprise ETL Server, intelligence storage, advanced analytics, portal functionality, and query and reporting via the SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence Server.

SAS 9 data integration supports data quality and a common metadata repository designed to ensure the reliability of information across IT systems, while the ETL server is designed to cleanse and integrate data into a common, usable data store to offer consistent answers to BI questions spanning the enterprise.

Enhanced analytics include predictive and descriptive modeling, forecasting, simulation, and optimisation to make it easier to answer complex questions that cannot be addressed by traditional BI, SAS said.

As companies move from analysing a snapshot of an operational system to glean intelligence from vast streams of data, they then need enhanced analytics, said Guy Creese, a research director at Aberdeen Group. SAS 9 features the performance improvements and scalability needed to address these larger records often generated on the edge of the enterprise, he said.

"Don't bury the insight in the data warehouse or the back office. The open architecture of SAS 9 and the ability to play well with other pieces of the IT infrastructure is critical," he said.

The data mining and text mining software have been fitted with Java interfaces designed to allow enterprises to analyse both structured data and unstructured text more easily.

Paul Coleman, director of marketing statistics for SAS user Federated Department Stores, said he sees SAS 9 maneuvering critical BI data out of the hands of a few power users to people throughout the enterprise.

"Few people now can have an in-depth view [of BI data]," Coleman said. "The rest have to rely on whatever point-and-click interface is at their disposal.

"We have terabytes of information just lying around. It's going through a few people. Management often cannot get information without going through these people.

"SAS is saying, 'We realise you have various data sources.' It is really trying to use its technology to level the playing field," he said.

Heather Havenstein writes for IDG News Service

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