SAS Institute on Thursday plans to announce a major partnership with Compaq and EDS to provide retail-industry customers with an array of services for analysing online customer data.
The business of mining analytical gold from mountains of customer data is a strong undercurrent here at SAS's three-day international user group meeting, which has drawn more than 1,500 European users. In saturated markets crowded with competitors, the ability to squeeze any advantage from customer data is considered the Holy Grail.
"Customers are asking us for more help in analysing the flood of data from their Web sites," said SAS founder and CEO James Goodnight, who strode onstage last night wincing theatrically at the sounds of an Italian aria that filled the auditorium at the Fortezza de Basso conference center.
The Compaq/EDS alliance is intended not only to extend SAS's offerings in analytical customer relationship management (CRM) software, but also to move the $US1 billion software vendor more prominently into a service provider role -- new territory for a company known historically as a statistical tools provider willing to leave the customising to its users.
European online discount retailer Haburi.com, for example, used its SAS warehouse and business intelligence tools to help recast its customer strategy following the April 2000 dot-com collapse.
Haburi held on to its market-leading position among the Web discounters by switching from TV advertising to online ads, cutting back geographic service areas and concentrating on acquiring loyal members rather than Web traffic. "Retail is about detail," said Dorte Ransby, Haburi's business intelligence manager. She said the ability to view and react to a series of key performance indicators about daily sales trends had rescued the company.
SAS analytics have also been used to track online behavior and compile extensive user profiles at Silicon.com, a UK-based Web site providing news for IT professionals. The resulting data has impressed advertisers and enabled the site's heavy use of personalisation.
Despite the recent economic slowdown, "the European market opportunity still exists," said Tom Bureau, commercial director at Silicon.com.