SAS Institute has boosted analytic capabilities and refined user interfaces in the latest version of its business intelligence software, aimed at helping end users extract important data from their business systems.
The company claims SAS 9 is capable of extracting data faster, from more systems, and of delivering contextualised data to more users than competitors.
The product ships as an integrated set of business intelligence software that pulls information from across any enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Further modules, for functions such as market automation and supplier relationship management, will ship later this year.
The enhanced analytics in SAS 9 include predictive and descriptive modelling, forecasting, simulation, optimisation, and the design of experiments.
"The SAS intelligence platform gives users one single version of their data, and can transform that into information and generate reports that show where their business is going," said Jim Goodnight, president and chief executive of SAS.
SAS 9 is aimed at carving a niche for the business intelligence vendor as it seeks to distinguish itself from all manner of competitors, including data warehousing, CRM and ERP rivals.
But the firm is competing in a crowded market, facing direct competition from other business intelligence vendors such as Cognos and Business Objects.
It must also stave off competition from database firms, such as IBM, which push its warehousing capabilities, and ERP vendors such as Oracle and SAP that hold much of the business information.
As firms increasingly collect more data about their customers, the ability to provide context to that data in a way that end users find meaningful becomes increasingly important, said Guy Crease, research director at analyst firm Forrester.
SAS 9 appears to scale well, and improvements to the user interface go some way to meeting these concerns, said Crease.
"In the past, many business intelligence vendors provided user-friendly interfaces at SAS's expense. They've traditionally been strong in analytics," he added.
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