Dashboard Insight's Maroushka Kanywani recently spoke with Tammi Kay George, Senior BI Strategist at SAS and Steve Polilli, SAS Media Relations about BI and product development at SAS.
Maroushka Kanywani: Tammi, as Senior BI Strategist at SAS, what does your job entail?
Tammi Kay George: I am primarily responsible for the message direction of our BI products globally. This includes working with customers, leaders, analysts and the press to understand not only what SAS does for business intelligence, but to also understand where the market is going and the needs of customers and prospects.
Then I bring that feedback back to SAS and relay it to our product managers, field marketers and our other marketing experts to make sure that they're aware of what the latest pain points in the market are and how does SAS solve those pains.
In essence, my job is to be out there listening, talking and gathering that type of information so that we can bring that back and figure out how to help our customers and prospects better. I do this more from a marketing perspective than the actual product perspective. So I work with product management to develop messaging and positioning that reflects the capabilities of our products.
MK: That sounds very interesting. Now in terms of new directions for SAS, could you tell me what's going on with the BI part of things?
TKG: We have some cool things going on. Last year we had an exciting announcement around visualization. SAS has a product called JMP, which is a really cool, interactive, visual querying, data exploration, data presentation and analysis product. It is now integrated with our BI offering and what that means is that within the BI environment things such as our presentation layer, dashboards, reports - all these capabilities have this very rich integration with the JMP product and we refer to the combination of JMP and SAS BI as "visual business intelligence."
Everyone needs different capabilities. An executive has a different set of capabilities from BI and analytics than someone who is an analyst, a statistician or someone who is a manager or a director. What JMP integrated with our BI product allows you to do is, provide analysts the capability to do really rich, quick data visualization. The analysts can take large quantities of data, do the analysis they need to do and all this can be done very fast because the analysis is visual and not tabular. You can even actually create data movies and show how results change over time with multiple dimensions.
In addition, earlier this year, SAS acquired Teragram. What Teragram allows us to do is combine the natural language search and the natural language processing capability within an unstructured environment. So it allows us to combine the structured world with the unstructured text world.
The SAS vision regarding this is that we want to enable organizations to be able to do queries like sales estimate forecast for 2010 and instead of having links to reports come up, we would like to actually have an answer come up instead - flush with all the background documents, insights or analyses that are related to that query.
There's so much to be gained from the Teragram acquisition; the unstructured world opens up a realm of mind-blowing changes. I would say that in the last 6 months, the JMP and Teragram acquisitions have been the most exciting announcements and I think both of them are on the cusp of ways that people are going to get more insight from data. It's important to note that people learn in different ways; some people are comfortable with seeing long rows or columns of numbers while other people need to be able to see relationships visually and when you add the capability of mining and categorizing unstructured data, video, voice and so forth, it starts to really gets exciting.
Steve Polilli: Just to provide some background on JMP - it is a fully-owned subsidiary company of ours and it's run by John Sall, who is also one of the founders of SAS.
In relation to Teragram one of the things I'd like to mention that I think is really cool is that it does natural language processing in unstructured data in over 32 languages. The internet, which is one of the places it searches, is mostly in English but there's a lot of unstructured data out there in other languages. This was an acquisition that was made for the technology; SAS has acquired companies for their technology and not for their market share. At SAS we don't go out looking for market share; we look for something that is really innovative and the leaders at SAS have promised a couple of more similar acquisitions this year.