SAS announces hosted service for retailers

SAS Institute Inc. continued its march to being an analytical applications provider and embraced an ASP model for the first time this week at its SAS Executive Users Group International conference here.

SAS Institute Inc. continued its march to being an analytical applications provider and embraced an ASP model for the first time this week at its SAS Executive Users Group International conference here

FLORENCE, Italy - Chief among the announcements by the Cary, N.C., vendor of business intelligence and performance management software was the release of a hosted service for retailers, IntelliVisor for Retail. The new service is designed for small to midsize retailers that don't have the technology resources to conduct their own e-business data analysis internally.

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IntelliVisor for Retail uses several different SAS products, such as Enterprise Miner, Warehouse Administrator, Web Hound and Strategic Vision, to provide analysis of customer interaction and purchasing behavior online as well as analysis of marketing campaign effectiveness. It can be used to develop cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

Customers receive a daily report through the Web, analyzing their e-business activity. No client software is required beyond a Web browser.

While ASP services have fallen out of favor throughout the industry, Tom Grant, SAS manager of ASP analytics, said this solution is different.

"We're providing a service over the Internet that reports back to the customer," said Grant. "We're not just giving people use of software via a thin-client architecture."

Grant said the hosted solution was designed for companies that don't have the resources to maintain such extensive analytical software internally as well as for companies having difficulty integrating Web data with their other data sources.

While the solution is used only to analyze data from the Web channel, it can be integrated with data from other sales channels, he said.

Retail has become a hot space for analytical CRM with companies such as Net Perceptions Inc., Teradata and SPSS Inc. all aggressively marketing solutions geared to that sector. Grant said SAS' hosted solution and 25-year pedigree set it apart. The Vermont Country Store, in Manchester Center, Vermont, participated in the pilot for IntelliVisor for Retail to better understand its Web site customers without making a deep investment in analytical software, according to Fred Gluck, director of Internet e-commerce for the company.

The retailer sells its products through stores, mail order and the Web. It chose SAS in part because of its established brand, Gluck said.

"We were reluctant to use the young ASP vendors out there because many of them are private and we couldn't see their financials and know if they'd be around tomorrow," said Gluck. "And even though SAS is a pri-vate company, we've used them before for other things, and they've been around long enough for us to feel comfortable."

Pricing for IntelliVisor for Retail starts at $20,000 per month with no limit on the number of users. The service is available now. Grant said SAS would likely develop hosted analytical services for other vertical industries as well, such as insurance and telecommunications.

SAS also announced a planned ex-pansion of its Enterprise Marketing Automation application into three verticals -- credit card, insurance and tele-communications.

The solution integrates SAS analyt-ics with marketing campaign man-agement software SAS acquired from Intrinsic earlier this year, adding pre-defined, industry-specific features like data modeling techniques, standard-ized reports and campaign templates (e-mail, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.) in order to ensure faster deploy-ment.

SAS officials said deployment will be in as little as 90 days using the pre-defined modules, which customers can expand or modify post-deployment.

The new vertical EMA solutions should be available by the fourth quarter of this year, SAS officials said. Pricing has not yet been determined.