SAS Analytics - They are #1 for a reason.
Updated December 04, 2014
SAS Analytics - They are #1 for a reason.
Score 9 out of 10
SAS Office Analytics
Overall Satisfaction with SAS Analytics
We utilize SAS first and foremost to construct and implement multiple predictive models across our business units. Not only does it allow for quick and easy model construction, but the time it takes to cleanse the data between large or small datasets is relatively similar so dataset size is not an issue. In addition, we are also in the early stages of using SAS and SAS Office Analytics to create an intelligent reporting platform via Microsoft Office products and the SAS Web Portal. This allows our organization to traffic important data and information to non-SAS users through automated processes. SAS also has impeccable format style making the final drafts look very nice and easy to understand. SAS Enterprise Guide is our point and click interface that allows power users to access the full potential of SAS without needing to know coding off hand, but can also choose to do so if need be. We can also access any datasource using the ODBC connection that comes with SAS Office Analytics so accessing the data from any server or database is not an issue at all.
- Better scoring, better work sloping, better ROI for every dollar spent.
- Automation of information through Task Scheduler.
- Increased professionalism of final reports.
- Shorter time having to cleanse data.
SAS allows the user a wider range of capabilities to cleanse and manipulate the data. Not only can the data be pulled directly into SAS, but before it is finalized it can be transposed, graphed, or altered in any way imaginable which puts it a step above the Business Objects and Crystal Reports. Not only that, but full reports can be created in SAS allowing the user to expand on the presentation of the data using charts, graphs, or lists. In addition, all SAS projects can be automated to update at a time chosen by the user which allows them to focus on other projects rather than on manually running projects repeatedly.
Not only does SAS become easier to use as the user gets more familiar with its capabilities, but the customer service is excellent. Any issues with SAS and their technical team is either contacting the user via email, chat, text, WebEx, or phone. They have power users that have years of experience with SAS there to help with any issue.
Key questions would center around what the user wants to do with SAS. For instance, before asking about SAS capabilities a user must be able to make sure SAS is compatible with their database setup or schema. After assessing the compatibility the user should ask if SAS has the ability to transform or manipulate the necessary data to get it into presentable form. It is really important that SAS demonstrates that it can add value to your data. Finally, after concluding that SAS is the right fit for how an organization wants to represent their data it is vital that the end user understand the limitations with SAS in regards to how their final product can be represented. Because SAS has many different modules and software a company can purchase the end user must find the most compatible package. For instance, if presenting data in Excel is a high priority the end user must be required to have the SAS MS Office Add-in that allows direct access to all of Microsoft's Office products. WIthout this, the end user may be limited in how they will be able to present information.
Using SAS Analytics
1 - Experience is everything. It takes a long time to become familiar with SAS. Not to mention, that this is a product that is changing on a quarterly basis so users must keep up with the education. However, doing so will only benefit the organization. There are more online resources than one can count, so users can also go to the web for a lot of the help they would need.
- Utilize SAS Web Portal to automate tasks once done by hand.
- The ability to send the information to the people that require it, rather than them seeking it out.
Evaluating SAS Analytics and Competitors
Yes - Business Objects and Crystal Reports. They were replaced by SAS due to their lack of user functionality. They are not very dynamic tools and SAS allows us to dynamically manipulate the data in ways that we previously could not. As a result, we have views of data that was once inaccessible.
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Prior Experience with the Product
- Vendor Reputation
When we were choosing a tool we mainly looked at what the tool could do for us 5 years down the line. Purchasing a data analysis tool can be costly, which makes it a long-term decision. We looked at how this tool could not only help us now, but what it can do to expand our business intelligence in the future. SAS is great because they have so many different modules and products that a company can simply add capabilities as they grow their internal business intelligence division.
I have worked previously with SAS, so we went right to them as an initial resource. Call it luck, but I didn't even realize their depth of capabilities. One thing I would change about the process is being more thorough. It is hard to translate your business needs to a SAS representative and things can get lost in translation. Be diligent in expressing your business needs since SAS has technical resources they can use to help navigate you to the right software.
SAS Analytics Implementation
Ask as many questions you can before the install to understand the process. Since a third party does the installation your company is sort of a passanger and it is easy to get lost in the process. It also helps to have all users and IT support involved in the install to help increase the knowledge as to how SAS runs and what it needs to perform correctly.
- Implemented in-house
- Professional services company
Pinnacle performed all of the downloading and installing of SAS Office Analytics. They were very knowledgable and everything loaded without an issue. Plus, if there were any issue they were glad to take on any troubleshooting until they could fully hand of the software support to SAS. The installation is very IT friendly and requires minimal employee resources to perform. The only thing that is required at the time of install is the necessary hardware to store and run SAS, which is typical.
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - The great part about SAS is that they utilize a third party to install everything your company will need. The only required of the company is to have the hardware necessary at the time of the install to support SAS. Otherwise, everything is handled through the third party installer until implementation and use is confirmed.
SAS Analytics Training
SAS has regional and national conferences that are dedicated to expanding users' knowledge of the software and showing them what changes and additions they are making to the software. There are user groups in most of the major cities that also provide multi-day seminars that focus on specific topics for education. If online training isn't the best way for the user, there is ample in-person training available.
There are online videos, live classes, and resource material which makes training very easy to access. However, nothing is circumstantial so applying your training can get tricky if the user is performing complex tasks. When purchasing software, SAS will also allocate education credits so the user(s) can access classes and material online to help expand their knowledge.
Yes, I found it very easy to learn through Enterprise Guide. There are so many online resources like blogs and SAS tech support websites that the user has a neverending supply of examples and information to help them assess their issue. Education credits are also fairly cheap if users want to go one step further with their self-training.
Configuring SAS Analytics
SAS configures to just about any software the user could have. They have made it this way because their software reaches worldwide and must configure to an infinite amount of possible setups. It is this configurability that makes installation so easy and seemless. For our company, we have had zero issues with getting SAS to configure to our IT infrastructure.
We currently run SAS off of an internal server with the users accessing the server through SAS Enterprise Guide installed on their local machine. This allows the user to personal projects and save them where necessary, but also give the software the speed and power that comes with using a server.
Some - we have added small pieces of custom code - If the user has no experience with coding this may be an issue at first. However, given the amount of online resources SAS has available the user will find ample information to tell them how to proceed. If they do this enough times it will become very easy and they will be able to customize their projects with custom coding.
Not yet. SAS is such a vaste tool that it takes a long time to accumlate enough knowledge to be comfortable with customization. Not that it is hard to do, but simply because the user will be preoccupied with navigating the software to first figure out its capabilities before customizing those capabilities.
SAS Analytics Support
Simple. Their knowledge and accessibility. Support can be reached via email, text, chat, or phone. They can also utilize WebEx to tap into your machine and see what the user is seeing. SAS is dedicated to helping their users maximize their software.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
No - SAS has many channels that allows the user to utilize their technical support. Not only does this come with the yearly subscription, but the education of the technical support personnel is very high. They have worked with the tool for years and can discuss issues using SAS rhetoric allowing the user to fully describe their issue.
We had just upgraded to SAS Office Analytics and could not get my SAS tasks to run on my Windows Task Scheduler. I reached out to SAS for help and this amazing representative named Tiffany helped me via phone and WebEx to not only solve the issue, but change the settings in SAS to be more user friendly on my local machine. She absolutely went the extra mile.
Using SAS Analytics
If SAS Enterprise Guide is utilized any beginning user will be able to shorten the learning curve. This is allow the user a plethora of basic capabilities until they can utilize coding to expand their needs in manipulating and presenting data. SAS is also dedicated to expanding this environment so it is ever growing.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
- Any data analysis using SAS Enterprise Guide is very easy as it is a point and click interface.
- Basic Graphing is also very easy.
- If a user needs predictive analytics, SAS made model building a drag and drop system.
SAS Analytics Reliability
It all depends on the type of SAS product the user has. Scaleability differs from product to product, and if the user has SAS Office Analytics the scaleability is quite robust. This software will satisfy the majority of the company's analytic needs for years to come. In addition, if SAS is not meeting the users needs the company can easily find SAS solutions that will.
SAS probably has the most market saturation out of all of the analytics software worldwide. They are in every industry and they are knowledgable about every industry. They are always available to take questions, solve issues, and discuss a company's needs. A company that buys SAS software has a dedicated representative that is there for all of their needs.
Although nothing is perfect, SAS is almost there. The software can handle billions of rows of data without a glitch and runs at a quick pace regardless of what the user wants to perform. SAS products are made to handle data so performance is of their utmost important. The software is created to run things as efficiently as SAS software can to maximize performance.
Integrating SAS Analytics
As far as we have used SAS, integration has been easy. However, we have not attempted to fully utilize complex integration capabilities as of yet.
- Windows 7 64-bit
- Windows 7 32-bit
The integration is basically seemless. SAS can anything from Windows to Linux, from 32-bit to 64-bit.
- File import/export
SAS is basically an ETL tool in itself. The PROC SQL function allows the user to be integrated with any ODBC connection they choose. SAS can also handle any text file the user would like to import including Excel files. Exporting is easy too allowing the user to choose from many different formats that can be utilized in other software.
If you are using basic Windows software and plan on using SAS for basic analysis and file creation you can assume that the integration will be absolutely seemless. However, if SAS will be used to integrate not only from but to databases more questions need to be asked to the SAS representative to make sure that capability is possible.
Relationship with SAS
SAS has dedicated representatives that are there to answer any questions about their software that the potential user may have. The representatives also gather SAS professionals from the technical and software teams to give the users intelligent resources to answer any specific questions. SAS will make sure they do their part in making sure users are satisfied with their software.
Even after purchasing SAS software the dedicated representative will periodically keep in touch to see how their software is performing and if there are any issues thus far that can be addresses. In addition, they will familiarize the user with any updated software that the user could benefit from if the user's needs are not being met.
Most SAS subscriptions are comprised of an initial software purchase, and then yearly subscriptions thereafter that include unlimited support and software upgrades. The yearly subscriptions are never locked in and can rise due to inflation. However, the increases are never obscene and SAS is very flexible with small and medium businesses when it comes to purchase price.
Honestly, I do not besides to ask a lot of questions. Make sure you are comfortable with the products you are buying so the company does not buy too much software or limit themselves and buy too little. SAS is a great partner to work with and they fully understand the needs of a business.
Upgrading SAS Analytics
Yes - Upgrades are totally seemless. A company's IT resource will receive any upgrades via email and they simply click on the link, enter the necessary credentials, and install the software. Every upgrade is automatically integrated with any older versions so no migrations are necessary. End users will not even notice the upgrade except for the augmentations SAS made to the interface.
- SAS added a feature that allows you to select what dataset you want when coding.
Yes - We upgraded from BASE SAS/GRAPH SAS/Analytics Pro to BASE SAS/GRAPH SAS Office Analytics. Office Analytics comes with MS Office integrations and Web Portal access which expands non-user data access. The only cost increase was the initial purchase price which SAS gave us a credit for our current licenses. Our capabilities became more robust with Office Analytics, and the change was very easy.
Yes - Eventually, we will need to upgrade software again as our business intelligence platform increases and our needs expand. SAS allows businesses to purchase only what they need with the capability of easily upgrading when the time comes. This gives companies the chance to look years ahead to determine what they will need rather than overpurchasing software and having it sit idle.