SAS Business Analytics – Visualisation, Mobility and Reporting

I recently attended a SAS Business Analytics seminar in Melbourne. The session provided insight from SAS, answering the following questions:

  • How business analytics can integrate data from across a organisation to deliver self-service reporting and analysis.
  • How the power of business visualisation can transform how we see, discover and share insights hidden in our data.
  • What pressures and market conditions are driving us to adopt mobile analytic reporting.
  • How and why SAS can help us move from insight to performance.

The session was well attended with a number of different industries and organisations represented.

The key takeaways for me:

  1. ‘Business Analytics’ is about discovering why an event occurred, and not simply reporting on it, which falls more into the ‘Business Intelligence’ way of thinking. Business Analytics helps predict what will happen in the future. (
  2. If an organisation is looking to compete in their marketplace with ‘Competitive Advantage’, Business Analytics is a key enabler.
  3. SAS have developed a great Business Analytics value chain; Analysis -> Forecasting -> Predictive Modelling -> Optimisation (of business processes).
  4. There are challenges to be faced and resolved on the Business Analytics journey.

a. Data Governance and Data Quality – As with any data project, if data quality is an issue the business insights you’ll generate will be at best low value and at worst wrong. A Business Analytics project, not unsurprisingly, needs good quality data.

b. One version of the truth – Integrated data ensures consistency of the insights generated and provides an easy access path to data.

c. Operationalisation of intelligence – Reducing the risk of having business insight locked up in individual resources, operationalisation of intelligence ensures insight generated can be used across the organisation.

d. Big Data!

There was a great case study,which for me really highlights the power and competitive advantage of Business Analytics.

State Fleet of New South Wales, Australia, have been able to accurately set the lease price of the 12,000 cars per year they lease to NSW public sector workers, by using ‘Predictive Analytics’ to accurately forecast the residual/sale value of a car at the end of the lease period. With this capability they are saving millions of dollars in potential losses. With a fleet of over 25,000 cars, every 1% error in the calculated vs. actual end of lease sale value of their fleet of cars will cost State Fleet over $3 million.

No seminar/presentation would be complete without a section and discussion on Big Data, and SAS gave us their take on Big Data, including what SAS see as the fourth V of big data – Value. When you think about it, this really is far more important that Velocity, Variety and Volume. Big Data ‘Value’ for SAS means focusing effort on analysis of data where high value insights can be generated. SAS further define Big Data as being able to perform analytics in a much shorter timescale than previously possible – ‘High Performance Analytics’ – so it’s not all about how big the data set is you have for your Big Data initiatives. You can still be doing ‘Big Data’ with a small amount of data; where the data set contains a large amount of untapped high value business insight but requires a high level of processing to unlock that value.

We had some practical demonstrations of current and new SAS tools that support Business Analytics – visualisation, mobility and reporting.

  •  SAS Mobile Business Intelligence ( ) – via Roambi™ ES for SAS, organizations can deliver real-time analytics to Apple iPhones and iPads, empowering users to monitor key metrics and make informed decisions wherever they are. A great move by SAS in partnering with Roambi ( to provide a visually appealing and market leading MobileBI experience.
  •  SAS Social Media Analytics ( – integrates, archives, analyses and enables organizations to act on intelligence gleaned from online conversations on professional and consumer-generated media sites. It enables an organisation to attribute online conversations to specific parts of the business, allowing accelerated responses to marketplace shifts. ‘Sentiment Analysis’ made simple.
  •  SAS Office Analytics ( – connects analytics data with Microsoft Office products (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook) to produce consistent views of data, automate reporting and add analytical insights while keeping information consumers within their interface comfort zone. The ability to directly access and view analytics from within Outlook looked very good, and provisg business users with the option to remain within a tool they are familiar with like Excel, can only be a good thing to further drive analytics uptake in the organisation.

Altis has been actively engaged in a number of successful Business Analytics projects over the last few years, and this seminar has strengthened my understanding and belief that successfully establishing and embedding Business Analytics within an organisation can generate massive competitive advantage.

I look forward to sharing our success stories and blogging further about our thoughts on how to deliver insights via Business Analytics. Altis expects 2013 to be another growth year for Business Analytics, with the smart companies using it to their advantage.


About Andy Painter

A passionate Information and Data Architect with experience of the financial services industry, Andy’s background spans pharmaceuticals, publishing, e-commerce, retail banking and insurance, but always with a focus on data. One of Andy’s principle philosophies is that data is a key business asset.
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