SAS hounds the Web with e-intelligence

In the world of business intelligence, information is the de facto currency. With the advent of the Internet this currency is flowing freely, but companies are having a hard time figuring out how to store it, analyse it and use it productively.

SAS Institute Inc. has developed an e-intelligence solution designed to let companies take all of the information gathered from Web traffic and blend it with information coming from other parts of the company to get a full picture of what is going on. The software offerings are directed at both the dot-com companies and more traditional brick and mortar operations that are now becoming click and mortar in order to join the fray.

“They are both rushing to get into this space,” said John McIntyre, director of market strategy, global marketing for Cary, N.C.-based SAS. “In the end they are all going to be able to need to analyze this data successfully.”

McIntyre noted that the need for companies to gather and analyze data is hardly new; it is just with the Internet the volume has dramatically increased.

“One e-characteristic of all of these things it the explosive growth of data. There is nothing that generates data quicker it seems than a popular commercial Web site,” he said.

It is this massive amount of information that plays to SAS’ traditional strength in data analysis, the vendor said. SAS has launched an integrated e-intelligence solution to help companies understand on-line behaviour and react to it in a fashion that will allow them to take full advantage of e-commerce

The three-part solution is driven by the flagship application, e-Discovery. This software allows companies to analyze and integrate data coming from all channels and has the capability to do comprehensive analysis for profiling segmentation, risk analysis on suppliers and the ability to return the results out to these applications, according to McIntyre.

This is part of what McIntyre calls closed-loop return of analysis. “It is no longer sufficient to say we can take data from these transaction systems, organize it and analyze it. What people are expecting now is to be able to deliver it right back out there to those applications [that are facing the suppliers and customers],” McIntyre said.

The second offering is the IT Service Vision, which is designed to provide analysis on a variety of enterprise infrastructures, including networks, phone systems and Web servers. This data is then warehoused and analyzed to provide information on infrastructure and to predict future capacity requirements.

The third release, which is either stand-alone or included in either of the previous two offering, is WebHound. “[It] is a tactical application that we built that is specific to the task of capturing Web generated data, building a data mart with that data, analysing and reporting on it so people can do tactical analysis,” McIntyre said.

For companies with a large Web presence and heavy traffic, WebHound has proved to be quite beneficial.

Mario Perkins, a managing partner at Qualex Consulting Services Inc. in Apex, N.C., is using the SAS solution to help the Washington Post gather information from their site. “It has provided us with the flexibility to address any kind of diverse Web logs,” he said. Not exactly a walk in the park, when you consider they are processing about 35 million records a day, turning the information around in a matter of hours and reporting daily, according to Perkins.

“One of the big strengths with SAS is we don’t care what kind of data is coming in, they always have a way to capture it and read it,” Perkins said.

Cameron Dow, manager Canadian software research at IDC in Toronto, agrees. “There are a number of companies in the market that offer similar functionality but not the complete solution end to end,” he said. He added that other solutions are limited and tend to only give a company one piece of the puzzle.

“Right now, certainly with the kind of capabilities that they have and their expertise, there really isn’t anything like it in the marketplace,” Dow concluded.

Pricing for e-Discovery starts at US$200,000, IT Service Vision at US$100,000 and US$80,000 for WebHound.

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