SAS Gets Social with Social Media Analytics
April 14, 2010

There's no doubt that the Internet and social media have given a powerful new voice to consumers and customers. At the SAS Global Forum, the multibillion-dollar analytics giant SAS Institute announced the availability of SAS Social Media Analytics, which is designed to help organizations understand the impacts on them of Internet-based collaboration and news channels. Many businesses have already felt the power of the social media sites Facebook and Twitter, the news sites of Fox News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and review sites such as and TripAdvisor. I referenced this as part of my recent assessment of SAS (See: "SAS Simplifies the Science and Use of Analytics in 2010") after it previewed this new technology to a group of industry analysts.

SAS has taken its experience in analytics for both data and text to build this new application that enables marketing organizations and agencies to analyze and act on the activity of social media channels. SAS Social Media Analytics integrates content from both the Internet and enterprise sources, and the media analyst workbench tool can load and model the information. The "sentiment analysis" capability looks at concepts and phrases to determine bias and intention in every individual's comments or communications. Assessment of them can determine impacts on brand reputation and the influence of specific channels. SAS has built in capabilities to accelerate the ability to track brands and threats to reputation and manage customer feedback. I like that SAS has made it simpler for analysts to get started in tackling this opportunity (and potential risk) for organizations.

The foundation for SAS Social Media Analytics is SAS's decades of experience with predictive analytics and the 2008 acquisition of Teragram that produced the SAS Text Analytics product. It has subtle but important capabilities for handling colloquialisms and phrases in Twitter and other sources of text. The analyst workbench feature makes it easy to publish specific metrics and information into the Media Intelligence Portal, which is a dashboard that helps nontechnical users understand the daily or weekly impact of social media. It can show specific details behind sentiments and media sources for deeper analysis. It is significant that this type of analytics can be used by  managers and business analysts.

SAS is a global company with technical support and services around the world with Social Media Analytics supporting more than a dozen languages; this support can help organizations get a global view of social media and analytics. Some large global organizations have been working with SAS already using SAS Social Media Analytics to assess social media channels, which is a new frontier for many of them. With the capabilities of this product, SAS has little competition today, although other text analytics providers such as Attensity, IBM SPSS, Lexalytics and Overtone are applying their technology to listen to online customer conversations or to social media channels.

I recently wrote about the importance of applying analytics to marketing (See: "Marketing Analytics Measures Effectiveness of Investments for Market and Business Objectives"). Social media analytics must also become a source of understanding the complete voice of the customer and to assist in what we call customer experience management and recently discussed by my colleague (See: "Unlock Customer Voice through Text Analytics").

SAS Social Media Analytics is a big step forward in bringing technology to the analysis of increasingly important social media. I especially appreciate this focus since we at Ventana Research have been using social media and the Internet to conduct and distribute research and perspectives for over nine years. I also recently wrote about the industry analyst community's movement to social media (See: "The Social Media Revolution in Industry Analyst Community") - that needs better analysis, too!

SAS has made it easy to acquire the new product through its SAS On-Demand platform. Using it, organizations do not have to worry about installing and configuring it internally, which is especially pertinent since many of the sources needed for analysis are on the Internet and not in the enterprise. This new analytics solution also moves SAS into a broader range of opportunity to what is being called social CRM that can help optimize a specific set of processes in marketing, sales, service and customer management. The race for social media analytics has begun, and with this new release SAS is moving to take an early lead.

Let me know your thoughtsor come and collaborate with me on Facebook,LinkedInand Twitter. 

Mark Smith - CEO & EVP Research


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