Pandas vs. Polar Bears

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Tired of all the depressing news about the economy? Me too. That’s why it was oh so refreshing to hear some good news this past week. I got a firsthand look into how SAS is helping companies weather -- and in some cases, thrive – in our current "challenging" economy. I also heard about pandas and polar bears, but more on that later.

At the SAS Media Day panel discussion “Tough Times, Smart Choices,” SAS customers Shannon Balliet-Antorcha, Director of Database Marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines, and Terry Macko, CMO of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), spoke about how they’re using SAS to insulate their organizations from the effects of a slow economy.

According to Balliet-Antorcha, Carnival is using SAS to keep its cruise liners full of passengers: “With SAS, we can prevent slow times by knowing when to further stimulate demand,” she said. Macko shared how SAS models of appeals for donations helped WWF increase returns by 25 percent.

But while business analytics is incredibly valuable in tough times, both Balliet-Antorcha and Macko said analytics is critical to success at all times. Why? Because whether the economy is in an upswing or a downturn, decisions have to be made and business analytics helps companies understand not only what’s already happened, but what will happen next – and what’s the best that can happen.

“In an economic downturn, your analytics is focused mainly on keeping your business operating. In an economic upswing, you’re using business analytics to maximize profitability in that scenario – testing, learning and growing. It’s important to make it part of the fiber of your organization,” said Balliet-Antorcha.

The WWF relies on donations for its funding and Macko is responsible for raising $500 million annually. “With SAS, we can tell who, when and how much to ask for, in the most efficient way,” he said.

Oh – and he knows which direct mail campaign images you’ll respond to better: polar bears or pandas. (Is there anything analytics can’t do??)

For more on how analytic technology is helping companies in good times and bad, be sure to check out Professor Tom Davenport’s latest study, The Rise of Analytical Performance Management. Based on company interviews and a global survey, the report reveals a clear progression of company activities with regard to analytical performance management, citing case studies from companies like Hilton Hotels, Harrah's, Best Buy, Victoria’s Secret, Sears and Toronto Dominion.

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About Author

Anne-Lindsay Beall

Senior Editor

Anne-Lindsay Beall is a writer and editor for SAS. Since joining the company in 2000, Anne-Lindsay has edited print publications, Web sites, customer success stories, blogs and digital publications. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in English from North Carolina State University. You can find her on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/annelindsaybeall

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