Tuesday, April 07, 2009

SAS and business analytics

The discussion of SAS's new marketing campaign that differentiates between "business intelligence" and "business analytics" goes on. SAS has replied to some of the criticisms. To be honest, as I have already said I have a lot of doubts on the subject.

On the other hand, I honestly don't care very much. At BARC a big part of our mission is helping customers find the right product. To do that, we make a big effort to help companies separate important information from less important information. When we advise customers about which product they should select, we never discuss the vendor's marketing material. We discuss the user's needs and the feature set of products that seem likely to fit those needs.

Nigel Pendse wrote a piece called "What's in a name?" some years ago. It's dated in all its details, but still rings true. It certainly is not a criticism of the products the vendors had on offer, or any recommendation pro or con of any of the products the vendors offer. That would have been a disservice to the vendors and to potential customers.

I don't always agree with the way vendors present their products, but in the end it's their business. And even when I like the way they present their products I don't recommend that anyone base a purchase decision on any marketing statement. The question is how well the product fits the users' needs.

I also wonder if SAS is overreacting. The company can hardly expect analysts not to react to a marketing message announcing the death of business intelligence. It is obviously intended to be provacative. It would be unrealistic to expect all the reactions it provoked to be positive. I don't think the best analysts are necessarily the ones that praise the vendors the most. Like Abraham Lincoln said, knavery and flattery are blood relations.

Update: This post is partly based on something Peter Thomas twitteredI hadn't realized that he also had a new blog entry on the topic when I wrote it.


Anonymous said...

Good and even-handed post Bernard.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I meant Barney - long day :-o

Unknown said...

I just switched my user name here from Bernard to Barney, so don't worry.

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