SAS is one of the largest and best-known independent vendors of BI and analytics. The company’s website shows 16 product lines, and product variations to match almost every business analytics requirement in any industry. One of its core products lines is Customer Intelligence, which I wrote about last year. Customer Intelligence consists of four main components: strategy and planning, information and analytics, orchestration and interaction, and customer experience – among all these interesting areas, only the last really indicates what the products do.
In this context, strategy and planning is about marketing: deciding which sales channels are likely to be most successful, managing marketing campaigns and using performance management to gain insight into how well marketing is performing. Information and analysis is about customer analytics – mapping customer profiles and segments to drive customer relationships, deriving customer value insights and performing event-triggered marketing. Orchestration and interaction is also about marketing, from a more operational perspective – campaign management, email and mobile marketing, optimizing communications with customers and real-time decision support to improve the outcomes of customer interactions. Customer experience focuses on analyzing online customer behavior to support better decision-making, using social media analytics to provide insights into what customers are posting on social media, and deploying Web analytics to analyze the use of the user organization’s website.
This is an interesting mix of products, and it supports two themes I have been seeing in key customer activities and part of my research agenda. The first is an evolving approach to marketing. Long gone are the days when organizations could afford to carry out mass marketing campaigns through direct mail. Instead we’re at the start of a time of more focused, personalized campaigns that are carried out through the new channels of customer choice, particularly email and smart phones. These approaches require organizations to gather more customer information and systems to create and deliver campaigns, which explains why SAS has integrated Assestlink’s marketing operations management suite into its customer intelligence portfolio.
The second theme, which no one can have missed, is the increased use of the Web to find information, purchase products and services, and gain support, and the increased use of social media to find information and support and to comment and complain. Marketing through each of these channels requires more detailed insight into customer behavior so that organizations can not only improve customer service through these channels but also make improvements to the overall customer experience. To support it, SAS has developed its social conversation center, which provides insight into what customers are saying on social media, as well as sentiment analysis and customer influencer scores.
At a time when customer behaviors are changing and it is hard to find new customers and gain maximum business benefit from existing customers, customer intelligence is more important than ever for organizations. SAS is wise to promote these two areas, which along with new services to support easier and quicker implementation of its products enhance its prospects for 2012. The use of customer analytics that we researched and predictive analytics are key parts of what SAS offers and help enable customer intelligence.
How effective are your marketing campaigns and your use of social media – indeed, how well do you know your customers? Please tell us more and collaborate with me on customer intelligence.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director