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After this summer’s SAS European analyst event, I wrote that I came away less than convinced SAS was truly committed to the cloud, based largely on the fact that most other vendors are blowing their cloud trumpets much louder than SAS. It seemed developments in and around customer intelligence and its other products were higher priority to the company than its cloud strategy. However, after a recent update, I was left with no doubt that the cloud is important to SAS and that the company has a well–thought-through strategy based around two services that Ventana Research touched on earlier this year.
SAS provides a subscription-based service from its data centers so that users can access capabilities on demand through a variety of browsers. It also provides support for both private and public cloud deployments, which enable organizations to mix and match between on-premises and cloud-based. The multitenant architecture provides an organization the ability to revert to on-premises deployment. A subscriber portal lets organizations manage subscriptions to the service, manage authorized users, set up and configure the application, and monitor, audit and receive SLA reports about the service. A separate provider portal allows providers to manage their assets and tenants, manage contracts, billing and SLAs and provision integration with internal systems. Developers can use provided tools to build custom extensions and customize the applications. As it goes forward, SAS will provide an application marketplace, so that organizations can if they want share developments, further reducing the potential cost of building specific capabilities. As with all offerings from SAS, an exhaustive development program is planned for the next few years, which will see more options and capabilities being offered in the cloud.
With all the hype about the cloud, customers are still confused about differences between hosted services, software as a service and cloud computing. Nevertheless, cloud computing is one of six technology developments that Ventana Research has identified as having a major impact on organizations’ IT strategy – the other four being big data, mobility, collaboration, social media and analytics. Our research into the contact center in the cloud shows that organizations are increasingly looking to utilize contact center systems in the cloud to help provide customers with excellent experiences across multiple communication channels. It however also shows, as indeed does our research in customer analytics and contact center analytics, that companies are slower at adopting analytics than other business applications. Some of the underlying reasons are the cost and complexity of setting up and running on-premises analytics. Cloud-based services such as those offered by SAS are a way to help organizations address these issues. We recommend organizations looking to improve their customer-facing activities investigate how cloud-based computing and gaining faster insight to customer interactions can add value to their operations.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director