Pressure from marketplace should force enterprises to take analytics seriously
Today’s tools still hard to use, designed for technical people; SAS introduces Virtual Analytics, a tool for 'dummies'
BUSINESSES today need to embrace business analytics across the whole enterprise more seriously and use the intelligence derived from this discipline to stay ahead of competitors, according to business intelligence and analytics player SAS.
Speaking to the media in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 21, Queenie Wong, practice lead for information management with SAS Institute (Malaysia), noted that market forces are compelling companies to re-look their customer data in a more insightful way than before.
“Regardless of which industry you’re in, the size of your business, size of the data, where you are in your IT service adoption, whether you’re a small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a multinational; whether you’re looking at data from within the whole enterprise or within departments, businesses need to [re-look] customer behavior, beyond who they sell to or where they sell, because the customer landscape is constantly changing.”
Wong (pic) said companies owned much of this intelligence in their data itself, but the challenge is for these companies to consolidate it and make sense of the information quickly and effectively.
She added that companies today cannot rely on the old methods of using spreadsheets or traditional databases as these approaches are no longer as effective as they were in the past.,
Citing the mass amount of data volume processed by vertical industries such as telcos and banks, Wong said traditional systems could still do the job but it would take too long to analyze the data.
Consequently, these companies would lose out, as they are not nimble enough to process the intelligence faster than their competitors.
“An analytics project or query can take up to six months to turn in results and this is too slow in today’s competitive environment,” she said. “What we need today is to have solutions that can process huge amounts of data in just days, if not weeks.”
But despite the very clear impetus for enterprises to use analytics more strategically, Wong acknowledged that many of the solutions available today are difficult to use, as they have been designed for people with knowledge in analytics or those with a statistical background.
“Businesses need to have a solution that allows executives from across the enterprise -- and not those from IT departments -- to use analytics and to have the solution easily digestible, and self sufficient for users to use.
"It’s important not to have a black box that only churns out report after report for people to see but information that people can make sense of,” she noted, adding that business executives are the best people to use this data.
SAS has introduced a solution which the company claims has been designed for people with little or no experience in the use of analytics. Dubbed SAS Visual Analytics, the solution is touted to have the ability to empower its users with tools such as correlation, regression and forecasting without needing any prior coding-related knowledge.
The auto-charting feature is even capable of automatically choosing the right analytics or reports based on the data provided in order to yield the most relevant insights from them, Wong claimed.
Originally introduced in March 2012, the earlier release specifically takes advantage of blade computing systems and also database appliances from EMC Greenplum and Teradata.
The new version released yesterday (Feb 21) is aimed at hardware platforms typically used as departmental-size servers, merging the power of Visual Analytics with the cost-effectiveness of running smaller-scale, departmental software solutions, the company said in a statement.
Wong said SAS’ Virtual Analytics has four key propositions for its users. Firstly, it has the mobility element, which allows the tool to be used from anywhere, and using devices such as laptops and tablets.
Secondly, she said that the solution could be used by anyone, even those without the relevant background.
“Apart from this, SAS Virtual Analytics uses our in-memory technology, known as SAS LASR, allowing users to easily create, calculate and digest complex calculations on the fly. Finally, the solution is also self-service-based and can be used without the need for help from IT administrators,” she claimed.
Asked what were some of the industry verticals SAS Malaysia planned to target in the coming year, Wong said that they would include telco, the public sector, logistic companies, financial services, retail, as well other industries it has no presence in yet.
Wong also revealed that for those who would like to give the SAS Virtual Analytics a test drive, they could do so at a microsite (pic, top, click to enlarge) within its own corporate website.
She said that the microsite, powered by Amazon’s cloud services, will allow users to gain access to several different scenarios with pre-populated demonstration data, and use the tool as any user would be able to in reality.
The microsite also comes with 'how-to' guides, both in document and video formats, she added.
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