Business intelligence software vendor, SAS, is crediting recent growth and major new deals to its sell-with, go-to-market strategy with partners.
SAS alliances manager, Bronwyn Pearl, said the company recently reviewed its channel strategy but concluded, at least for now, that a partner-based approach was better than a channel model.
However, the vendor remained open to an indirect model in the future.
SAS works with a variety of partners, including systems integration and outsourcing companies.
The vendor claimed this approach had seen a 135 per cent increase in its new software revenue (NSR) in the first quarter of 2004 compared with figures for the same quarter last year.
Projects undertaken by SAS in conjunction with its partners this year include AXA Insurance, the Victorian Workcover Authority, the Transport Accident Commission, Victoria Police, Bonlac Foods, the Commonwealth Department of the Treasury, The Health Insurance Commission, the South Australian Department of Human Services, the National Centre for Vocational Educational Research, the South Australian Water Corporation and Flinders University. Pearl said SAS Australia had a direct sales force of 25-30 sales staff, who typically brought outside partners into its Alliances Program, to compliment its own solutions.
The SAS Alliances Program, which is essentially for developing partnerships, began in Australia and New Zealand three years ago. The local program is supported by other SAS Alliances overseas.
“SAS has a sell-with, go-to-market strategy with partners, working closely to create new avenues for delivering and implementing SAS solutions,” she said. “Partners provide subject matter, expertise, implementation services and SAS support skills.”
They can include business consultants and strategists, systems integrators (Cap Gemini, Bearing Point, Accenture), implementation partners, hardware vendors (HP, Intel, Sun, Unisys), independent software vendors (IBM, ESRI, Peoplesoft, Oracle) and outsourcing and hosting partners (EDS, CSC).
Pearl said while some of SAS’ 100 software tools might be suitable for a channel approach, potential channel suppliers might lack the appropriate breadth of skills to provide high-end enterprise solutions. This was because many tools needed customisation and expertise from consultants.
“Our solutions are not shrink-wrapped,” she said. “They are not something to be handed over lock, stock and barrel [to third parties]. They require knowledge to get them in place.”
A channel strategy would also be at odds with SAS’s other country divisions and the company preferred direct contact with its customers.
But while SAS was not currently looking at a channel strategy, Pearl said it was something the company occasionally considered.
SAS reported 25 per cent higher profits for Australia/New Zealand in 2003. Globally, sales grew 13.5 per cent to $US1.34 billion.