After talking about SAS products and development roadmaps with industry experts at the SAS Analysts Conference in Steamboat Springs earlier this month and now as we're preparing for SAS Global Forum next week, I have to say how proud I am of the SAS Research and Development and Product Management teams for all the great work we delivered last year, and for the pipeline of products we have planned for this year.
The R&D teams at SAS will be expanding our 2010 efforts in many areas, especially around the work we’ve already accomplished in high-speed computing and data transformation. The top five R&D priorities for 2011 are:
Software as a Service: As customers become more comfortable with hosted software deployments and security levels in “the cloud,” we’re finding that interest in software as a service is spreading to nearly every sector. It’s not just small businesses and innovative organizations that are looking at software as a service these days. I’ve talked to CIOs at some of the most traditional pharmaceutical companies, for example, who are considering putting even certified systems in the public cloud to provide for elastic capacity for their high-demand situations. As more industries start to realize the benefits and opportunities that come with the move to hosted applications, we are making sure we have the scalability to deliver software as a service across the SAS platform and across a broad range of industry solutions.
Data Management: Managing data from across the organization continues to be one of our customers’ biggest issues. Companies are dealing with transactional, device and unstructured data and need to manage it quickly. Today, especially, “one version of the truth” does not mean one repository, so data federation and master data management are important. Also, many customers are moving from ETL (extract, transform, load) to ELT (extract, load, transform) so transformations can be made within the database. Helping customers do that work within databases remains a top priority.
Business Visualization: As more non-technical users gain access to data, visualization is critical to helping business users benefit from analytics. One of the many big projects underway in this area is to have our signature Enterprise Miner product work better with our JMP business visualization software. We’re also giving business users easier access to data by enhancing our integration with Office and Outlook, and we’ll continue that work as it helps serve customers from small startups to the Fortune 500. We are also making R&D investments to allow our software to run on mobile devices, including Android and the iPad.
Process Automation: Businesses need self-healing solutions, automated improvements and effective alerts. Not every application of analytics ends with a report. Instead, many analytic applications feed results right into a business process or operational procedure, flagging a warranty claim as fraudulent or automatically upgrading a customer to a new level of service. We are committed to sending out solutions that can monitor quality control and manage complex events.
High-Performance Computing: This will continue to be a huge area for us going forward, and it’s something that most large organizations are asking about. Large retailers want to know where we’re going with high-performance data mining for customer intelligence. Automotive manufacturers want to know if we can handle the amount of data in their processes, including manufacturing data and telemetry data from their cars. I see a consistent theme of excitement from customers around doing a deeper level of analytics with solutions that can scale to their needs. We are committed to understanding and meeting customer needs for high-performance computing.
Overall, I have to admit I'm just really stoked, if you will, that we're getting so much confirmation from our customers about what we're working on in the future. As I travelled from Japan to Colorado and back to Cary recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of nodding heads and smiles from customers that we're investing in the same directions that they want to go.