Skip to main content

SAS Customer Customer Intelligence 360 - Turn Data into Experience

A while ago Angela Lipscomb from SAS got in touch with me to get me introduced to SAS’s concept of a Customer Decision Hub.
Their Customer Decision Hub is a solution concept that shall allow organizations to derive insights and to trigger actions from interactions with external parties, like customers based upon rules and the derived insights.
A Customer Decision Hub e.g. orchestrates the determination of Next Best Actions, and allows responding to an incoming request in real time using analysis and decision logic. At the same time standard communications can get suppressed based upon the same set of rules.
In other words, the Customer Decision Hub fosters customer engagement based upon inbound signals that get analyzed and processed through the organization.
Why is this remarkable, I hear you asking?
It is remarkable because SAS Software first of all is an analytics company with a strong reputation for enterprise analytics at the higher end of performance and price point. SAS describes itself on LinkedIn as “the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world the power to know®.”
SAS is not a company that is widely known for being actively engaged in the customer engagement market (pun intended).
So I was intrigued. And so should you be.
Finally, a few days ago my somewhat erratic schedule allowed me to have a follow-up with Troy Kusabs of SAS in NZ, something that he offered to do earlier. Troy gave me some more insight into the concept and how SAS software does support filling it with life. It bases on the SAS Digital Intelligence and Personalization platform “SAS Customer Intelligence 360”. The purpose of SAS Customer Intelligence 360 is to allow businesses the creation of relevant customer engagements, based upon data, which result in better customer experience. SAS dubs it as “create relevant, satisfying, valued customer experiences”.
SAS Customer Intelligence 360 consists of two applications that sit on top of the SAS analytics system and support marketing by enabling functionalities for real time decisions, intelligent marketing and campaign management. These applications are named SAS 360 Discover and SAS 360 Engage, which allow for collecting data from digital interactions, to gain insight out of these interactions, and then use this insight to meaningfully engage with customers across web, chat, e-mail, and mobile apps. One can roughly say that SAS 360 Discover feeds the analytics engine and that SAS 360 Engage uses the analytics results.
Businesses can define and maintain data collection and normalization rules and, based upon these, assign personalization rules. Customer interactions get tracked using a simple enhancement of e.g. the web site or app code, which helps to build their profiles, first anonymous ones, where possible identifying and merging those technical profiles. This data gets aggregated in a data mart and can get further enriched with data that comes from other sources that the business has, like product information and information out of the CRM-, and other systems. This information then can get used for further engagement using the core strength of SAS, which is the strong analytics system.
This engagement is the job of the SAS 360 Engage application, which allows to combine messages and assets to marketing tasks, which get aggregated to customer journeys, called activities by SAS. This, again, is supported by SAS analytics capabilities, including predictive analytics and machine learning.
The overall system runs on AWS and is mandatorily designed as an open platform. Connectivity to the source systems is given by APIs and ETL functionalities.

My Take

It is good to see a traditional analytics vendor stepping up and helping their customers to build an integrated solution that allows them to take advantage of the treasure trove of data they are sitting upon. Customer engagement and customer experience being some of the hottest topics around make for a good showcase of this ability. Of course SAS offers solutions for decision management, fraud detection, risk management, too.
SAS makes a pretty compelling case by its ability to combine a, if not the, leading analytics engine with business logic. Analytics is a means to an end – a business end. This case is supported by an API approach and the statement of offering an open platform.
Having said this, the market that is covered by SAS Customer Intelligence 360 is a very competitive one. Business applications vendors like SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce – or Adobe – are trying to corner it, too. They might have less powerful analytics engines but they command a lot of the business logic, and the business knowledge. Then we have specialty vendors, of which I want to mention only Kitewheel and Thunderhead here. These companies excel in the disciplines of discovery and engagement and have analytics engines that are geared towards supporting their specialization, and they are offering out-of-the-box (OOB) integrations into major business- predominantly CRM systems.
Integration is an important topic. While offering APIs is key the message of having OOB integrations is very powerful.

Lastly, it is about messaging and philosophy. Looking at the ‘get started’ info graphic is telling here. The thinking is company centric, and not customer centric. With that, it needlessly limits itself. While there are mentions of the customer being ‘fickle’ it assumes that the customer journey can get pre-planned by the company, which is wrong. The company can offer a many of touch points, out of which the customer chooses the ones (s)he finds most convenient at any given point in time. The messaging sincerely is about talking to the customer instead of talking with the customer. Changing the messaging to an outside-in viewpoint and then further improving the solution from there could help SAS really stand out.


Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

SAP CRM for S/4HANA - News from the Customer Frontier

It has been a little more than half a year now that I didn’t update on what is going on with SAP CRM and S/4HANA (which I will refer to as S/4 from now on; SAP it is time for you to change the unwieldy name to something more manageable). What Happened – So FarAs you are well aware SAP is working on integrating a simplified version of SAP CRM into S4. The original roadmap offered a first customer release of an integrated product in early 2018, based on the September 2017 release of S4. The integration was planned as an add-on to S4. The initial scope of this CRM add on for S/4 was supposed to cover what is referred to as ‘core service’ functionality. This initial release shall be followed by ‘core sales’ functionality later in 2018. 2019 then is supposed to be dedicated to another round-off release covering further sales and service functionality, including loyalty management and migration tools. Roadmap and statements also so far have been fairly fuzzy about the strategic distinction b…

More Nimble News

The NewsIn the past 5 weeks or so, there have been quite a few news items about Nimble, with the biggest product news dated September 28 and the most interesting business development dated October 11. The headlines include Nimble’s deeper collaboration with Microsoft and its channel partners, as well as product innovations intended to increase the value delivered to Office 365- and G Suite users. In particular, Nimble: ·Now integrates with Circleback, an AI-powered contact capture and cleaning tool as well as their business card scanner. Nimble is now able to extract high quality contact information from email signatures and to add it to the Nimble contact record. This way it becomes easier to keep contact information current. ·Has partnered with NeoCloud. NeoCloud is a managed cloud services company that deploys and manages Office 365. The company now bundles Nimble into all its Office 365 deals and thus offers business applications on top of its infrastructure- and productivity-focused…

Oracle Ups The Ante - Does the Salesforce Empire Strike Back?

The fall conference season is in full swing. Of the big 4 we had Oracle Open World and the SAP Hybris Summit, with Dreamforce, SAPPHIRE, and Microsoft Connect() still to come. I have covered the SAP Hybris Summit, so do not need to say much about it anymore. The event was short on great announcements – maybe they will come at SAPPHIRE – but certainly contributed to showing the clear vision forward that SAP has. And it is a compelling and consistent vision. OOW 17 was a different beast, most notably with the announcement of Oracle 18c. A year ago Oracle took Amazon full on, declaring it enemy number 1. Many analysts, including myself, were confused about this. Why Amazon and not Microsoft? After all Microsoft is the company that has a very credible IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Add the operating system and productivity software and you have a company with a formidable software stack that can be on the winning side of a Clash of Titans. While CTO Larry Ellison still took pot shots at Amazon in his …

SAP CRM into S/4HANA - Did SAP Hit Bulls Eye?

After having talked with Volker Hildebrand about the future of SAP CRM and whether or not there will be a CRM component in S/4HANA at CRM evolution 2017 I now had the chance to follow up with some folks back at SAP in Walldorf. A little RecapVolker told me that, unsurprisingly, SAP is working actively on adding CRM functionality into S/4HANA. In fact, they are merging SAP CRM into it. This is in my eyes meanwhile also the preferred of the two possible options; the other one would be marrying SAP Hybris C4C into S/4HANA. This is the approach which I originally preferred as it would lead to a cleaner code base. I changed my mind, putting customer friendliness reasons over technological cleanliness. The main advantages of merging SAP CRM into S4/HANA over SAP Hybris C4C are that this approach a)Opens a future roadmap for current SAP CRM customers that stretches beyond 2025. These customers else are at risk of defecting. b)Provides the continued chance for customers to run their SAP instance…

Clari - Nipping at Salesforce's Heels?