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Businesses continue to try to increase productivity and simplify tasks in order to use their time smarter. Our recent business technology innovation research found that, when it comes to analytics, 44 percent of organizations spend the most time on data-related tasks. With lack of resources being the largest issue impeding the adoption of technology, IT must operate efficiently while getting business the data it needs on a timely basis. Scribe Solutions has a business-centric data integration solution that operates in the cloud. Over the last 15 years Scribe has accumulated more than 12,000 customers worldwide that span from Fortune 500 to midsize to small organizations. Scribe enables business to access marketing and sales data (part of CRM) like that in Microsoft Dynamics. It has built a strong presence indirectly and through Microsoft partners; it claims to have more than 1,000 partners, and has been expanding efforts to broaden its position by supporting a range of data sources, including Salesforce.com.  Scribe focuses on what I call information optimization, providing value from information management investments, as I outlined in our research agenda.

Scribe addresses multipoint integration that cuts across vr_datacloud_obstacles_to_cloud_data_integrationdepartments and across on-premises and cloud computing environments.  Our research into data in the cloud found lack of implementation resources to be the major obstacle in 31 percent of organizations. Scribe’s product Scribe Online operates in the cloud and facilitates the integration of on-premises and cloud-based environments. It provides a replication service that helps get a copy of data from one point to many and ensures that data is available when users need it. This is especially important when you have a multitude of applications in the cloud for marketing, sales and customer services that need to interoperate, and if you need data that is generated in another application or is in a legacy on-premises application.

Scribe’s latest release simplifies the visual integration environment and provides some core functionality to expand its value to business. Its Integration Service enables synchronization processes to update as data is generated and provides methods to transform data to a form used by an organization’s business intelligence or analytics software. Scribe enables these capabilities through integration agents deployed with the applications.

I got a product demonstration that provided insight to the usability of the product, which our data in the cloud benchmark found was the most important evaluation criteria according to 56% of organizations. Scribe has built an approach that is usable by business. It lets users position graphical blocks that comprise integrations, eliminating the need for a DBA, though data-savvy professionals can set up the configuration of the blocks to enable business to access to data at any time in a safe and governed manner. Business analysts can easily adjust parameters to the blocks and change them to meet their needs. I also tried out Scribe’s free trial software, which was easy to activate and use. I do think the software trial could have pre-built demonstrations of integration to make it easier to get started. Its approach is especially nice for those who need to quickly get data into their spreadsheets for analysis. Our latest research into spreadsheets found that combining spreadsheets is time-consuming in more than half (56%) of organizations, mostly due to getting the data into the right shape for combining – a process Scribe Online can assist with.

Scribe provides a range of connectors to applications and systems, and a new Connector Development Kit that can help partners and customers extend the technology to meet a range of custom and specific application needs. Scribe has also announced a marketplace for partners that can be found embedded within the software to make it easy to use these connectors. I would like the company to highlight the marketplace outside of the software and on its website, as it is a significant part of Scribe’s value.

Scribe works well for marketing and sales teams that need to integrate marketing automation and sales force automation systems. Its software integrates with a broad spectrum of applications other data integration providers can’t manage, such as Exact Target, Silverpop, On24 and customer billing systems such as Intuit and FinancialForce. Scribe just announced support for Marketo, one of the fastest-growing marketing automation applications in cloud computing, which supports the demand and revenue generation needs of organizations, and for Xactly, which is used for sales compensation and incentives. It is expanding the number of connectors to applications through partners such as Datix, which resells Epicor.

I was impressed by the way Scribe’s offering makes data integration simpler for business while providing integration into applications vr_infomgt_alignment_of_business_and_itfor marketing, sales, customer services and accounting systems. Today, when organizations have systems dispersed across online environments that need data shared across applications or integrated into a unified environment for analytics, Scribe Online is a great step forward. Having software that can align business and IT is essential, as less than a fifth (19%) work together well for the information needs of an organization, according to our information management research. Scribe can provide significant value here, empowering business to do its own integration in a secured and governed manner. If it continues to expand its application connectivity to the providers that deliver value to the SMB market, it will have a great growth opportunity.

If you are looking to empower business to access and integrate data, take a look at Scribe Software and its latest Scribe Online release. It is pretty easy, and you should try it for yourself.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

I recently attended the annual SAS analyst summit to hear the latest vr_bti_br_technology_innovation_prioritiescompany, product and customer growth news from the multi-billion-dollar analytics software provider. This global giant continues to grow its business and solutions to help with fraud prevention, marketing and risk. It lets users apply its analytic and statistical technology in practical applications for business. SAS can meet midsized businesses’ demand with packaging and pricing to ensure it is not seen as only affordable to Global 2000 companies. SAS’ growth in analytics should be no surprise, as our research finds analytics to be the first-ranked priority among technologies for innovating business.

SAS’ largest area of growth is in its business analytics and business intelligence tools. Its new SAS Visual Analytics product appeals to a vr_ngbi_br_importance_of_bi_technology_considerationsbroad range of business and analyst needs. The latest upcoming version blends data and visual discovery with powerful analytics. SAS is also addressing usability, the most important technology consideration according to 63 percent of organizations in our research. SAS uses in-memory computing against big data to help meet the advanced needs of organizations. Its eventual intent is to have Visual Analytics be the focal point of its business intelligence product direction. SAS Visual Analytics 6.2 is expected to be generally available in second quarter of this year; a trial of the product is already available. At the event the company demonstrated its capabilities on tablets such as the Apple iPad. After seeing the demo my only recommendation is that SAS provide more collaborative aspects and ensure that analysts can make observations and notations, which is a challenge with most of the business intelligence and analytics offerings in the market today.

SAS’ view of big data echoes our view that it is part of a larger portfolio of vr_bigdata_big_data_technologies_plannedbusiness technology for storing and loading data. SAS has invested significantly into its high performance analytics (HPA) architecture, which enables it to operate in parallel or embedded within database technology. SAS has focused on efficient processing for applying mathematics, and has devised multiple architectural approaches to adapt to existing technology, including Hadoop, and to ensure it can operate in the most efficient manner. Our big data research finds that a third of organizations plan to evaluate and adopt a range of appliances, in-memory and specialized databases and Hadoop in 2013. SAS’ approach is to embrace and integrate with a range of big data approaches.

For information management, SAS has consolidated the previous Dataflux brand into the SAS organization and unified its product vr_infomgt_information_management_initiativeofferings. This is an important move, as joint offerings can confuse potential customers, though everything was available from SAS. Beneath the marketing is a solid product line that provides not just data integration, though we assessed SAS as a Hot Vendor in our 2012 Value Index for Data Integration based on a methodical assessment. Unlike other analyst approaches that scratch the surface of review in 2×2 assessments, we look at range of manageability, usability, reliability and other categories that span a range of data related areas. Not as well-known yet for its integration with Hadoop and even SAP HANA, SAS is addressing challenges in big data integration that we are researching in more depth for 2013. But SAS’ overall approach to data management aligns well to our information management research. I was impressed with SAS’ support for process and data orchestration and the overall ease of use of the product; it can be easily used by analysts and IT, with some great job monitoring capabilities.

For the chief marketing officer (CMO), SAS has expanded its Customer Intelligence Suite since my colleague Richard Snow assessed it last year. Expanded capabilities address a broad set of management and operational needs for marketing. SAS provides not just the analytics but campaign management, real-time decision management and personalization that helps ensure the best possible interaction and experience. Though it is not always seen as a key provider of applications for marketing, SAS has been steadily expanding its offerings organically and through acquisitions, and now, with a unified approach and user experience, is ready to strut its depth and sophistication, especially for B2C organizations.

SAS demonstrated a portfolio that engages everyone from the CMO to the analysts, managers and teams responsible for marketing activities that span from strategy and planning to interactions and ensuring great customer experience. An upcoming release expected in Q2 provides a new generation of user experience and integration that I have not seen in other offerings in the market. This sophisticated advancement in customer analytics aligns with my colleague Richard Snow’s view on the next generation of customer analytics that can leverage big data to meet forward-looking needs of organizations.

SAS sees the value in cloud computing, and now has its own global hosted technology infrastructure. It can help its customers set up a private cloud for its technology. SAS has had rapid global expansion to supportvr_bti_br_access_preferences_for_innovative_technologies the cloud since our last assessment. I especially like its management of users, applications and technology and the ease of working across deployments and upgrades. SAS will soon also provide a platform for assembling applications for a range of needs for business. This new step forward, expected later in the year, is significant, as SAS is not known for its ability to foster the development of applications, but it has had this capability in its portfolio, and now is making it simpler and accessible in the cloud. Our research finds that the on-demand model and even software hosted by the supplier plays a growing role not just for analytics but for a range of big data and mobile technology needs in over a third of organizations. For SAS, this capability goes well beyond just providing analytics in the cloud, and places it in the market of companies such as Salesforce, which provides Force.com as its cloud-based application development environment but also provides information and analytics applications. SAS continues to expand its OnDemand offerings that provide easier access to many of the sophisticated solutions in its portfolio.

SAS is also applying analytics to decision-making through a series of advancements with its Decision Management technology. As many organizations realize, the value of analytics is in using them to enable action to be taken. This is no easy task, as most analytics and their presentation are not designed for assessing, taking and monitoring actions. SAS has developed a suite of capabilities and tools to help in the preparation of data, modeling, optimization, workflow and rules, monitoring and reporting, along with supporting case management. After a close look at the product I found it to be well-designed with an easy-to-use interface, especially the decision flow builder, which can be used by business analysts to design processes and analytics. I especially like the SAS Scenario Manager, which allows for side-by-side examination of decisions to determine how to optimize activities. SAS’ full suite of integrated decision management capabilities is expected to be available in the second quarter of this year, and SAS has an aggressive roadmap for continuous improvement. Only IBM in this market has a comparable area of focus and integrated approach with a portfolio of tools for decision management across any industry. SAS is making a smart step forward and will need to elevate the visibility of this offering in its portfolio to ensure it gets the proper level of consideration.

SAS also provides software for risk managementGRC and fraud technology to handle the most sophisticated challenges facing organizations and lower risk in organizations. Our research into GRC finds that 79 percent of organizations are looking to identify and manage risks faster, and more than half (59%) need to improve their control environment. I will let my colleague do further analysis of SAS portfolio in this area in the future.

SAS continues to build out its partner ecosystem. It has made strides to expand into other companies’ technology ecosystems, including Teradata and EMC, and works with system integrators such as Accenture, Capgemini and Deloitte. SAS had a great customer panel at the analyst event, and while I’m under NDA and cannot tell you the customer names, they represented some of the largest brands in the world, and they operate and use SAS to meet a variety of analytics and real-time operation needs.

The company has been steadily advancing, as we found in our Value Index for Business Intelligence last year. However, as SAS is adopted by more analysts, it will face the same issues I cited for business intelligence, which has not adapted well to business needs.

SAS has great potential with its approach to do more than just analyze the past but also predict and optimize future business activities using applications and tools that utilize its analytics backbone. SAS believes that its ability to handle proactive and forward-looking analysis on the largest of big data distinguishes it from other software providers along with using in-memory technology and makes it easy to try its software. SAS’ ability to use mathematics and embed predictive analytics into its offerings makes it a unique application provider. I could not cover all the key advancements in its portfolio but anyone that spends a little time examining their portfolio will realize there is a lot more to SAS than most realize. It’s broadening and deepening of its portfolio puts it on the short list of companies to consider for bringing more sophistication and science to business analytics.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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