SAS Institute and friends in the business analytics industry

Based on my decade long experience with business analytics software and projects, this is a small compilation of SAS Institute and its rivals.

Software Vendors-

1. SAS Institute

The SAS Institute has one of the strongest portfolios in business analytics software and they have been one of the earliest players in this industry. Their business leadership in this area has extended for over three decades and they can be credited for making this industry as big and lucrative as it is now. The SAS Institute offers a complete vertical integration for analytics, from educational programs with academics, trainings, certifications, book publishing, to industry domain specific solutions and a wide array of advanced statistical and analytical platforms. They have SAS and JMP as the two primary platforms , and an incredible (and sometimes confusing) number of products. With social media analytics as their latest platform, SAS Institute is expected to be a major force in this industry. Potential danger points are- they did miss out on the demand for web analytics during the last decade for Internet, and they seem to be slightly conservative on cloud computing and heterogeneous systems for Big Data for the next decade.

The primary software for data handling by SAS Institute has been Base SAS and SAS Stat is the statistical equivalent. SAS Enterprise Guide is the workflow based graphical user interface, and SAS Enterprise Miner is the primary data mining software. For forecasting SAS ETS is the software to go for. JMP Software is used mostly for data visualization, genomics and quality and design of experiments.

For students and academics SAS gives the software for free, offers training for corporates (which is very expensive), and also offers a huge variety of books via SAS publishing. This is besides the very nicely designed and supportive SAS Support Web Site.

Some of the confusion in SAS Institute marketing is the lack of clear transparent pricing (even for volume based accounts) , bundling and re-bundling of many software , and the demarcation between products and services is not as clear. Given the premium pricing of SAS products, these factors hinder the SAS Institute from reaching even higher potential for its formidable array of technology.

SAS has alliances with Teradata for hardware, and Accenture for consulting.

2. IBM

IBM is a legend in the technology and computing space and one of the largest creators of intellectual property, patents as well as employing over a hundred thousand people in India alone. In the past few years IBM has moved rapidly in acquiring lots of analytical companies thus giving it a now formidable alternative to SAS in the analytics space. This includes SPSS, Netezza,Algorithmics, Unica, iLOG, i2 and Cognos. However, it seems some of the acquisitions have not really been working well in terms of a uniform integrated approach, and the offerings in analytics is a bit confused , there has been no major loss of market share for the primary leader SAS. IBM has also been an alliance partner to WPS , which makes the SAS language compiler at a lower price and better user interface than Base SAS.

3. Oracle Corporation – Oracle was primarily a database software company but it has aggressively gone in for acquisitions (like Sun and MySQL) and built its own database analytics division. They are the latest entrants in R language space and their impact of R Enterprise is expected, given their existing formidable sales connections and budgets with enterprises.

4. Additional Players-like KXEN, Revolution Analytics and Salford Systems offer other specialized software or platforms but need to partner with bigger players to counter the SAS Institute’s analytics juggernaut.

Image courtesy to cooldesign at
Image courtesy to cooldesign at
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