SAS is the 2nd largest BI vendor in the world, just behind Business Objects, according to this report posted at http://www.sas.com/news/analysts/idc_bi_0607.pdf
It’s interesting to note that Business Objects growth rate slowed by half this past year (down from 14% to 7% growth/year.) SAS’s rate accelerated (up from 13 to 17%) and Microsoft (up from 25 to 28%) are the few large vendors seeing acceleration in growth rates. It’s possible SAS could take the number one spot in the next year or two- which is fairly impressive since SAS has only had an end-to-end set of desktop and web BI tools since 2003 with the release of SAS 9 and the SAS Business Intelligence Server suite. Why should you care? I have visited many companies and seen most of the products on this list at the same company in silos. As consolidation of BI tools inevitably occurs over the next 5-7 years at many companies, who should you turn to and why?
Key advantages of SAS over the competitors include in-depth integration in Microsoft Office, a very powerful desktop BI and analytic tool (Enterprise Guide), and zero-client web reporting that leverages the work in traditional SAS and from the desktop tools. If analytics and BI are in your future, you should definitely take a close look at SAS. Even without the analytic element, SAS has a strong offering (take a look at the Web OLAP Viewer, geospatial integration, and excellent OLAP viewer in EG.)
The one area notably lacking from the SAS suite is a pixel perfect, production reporting offering (e.g. – Actuate.) However, this gap is not of importance for most potential customers. In my opinion, integrated analytics, especially with SAS Forecast Server integrating seamlessly with Excel via the Add-In for Microsoft Office, make SAS a strong choice in many marketing, sales, and financial analysis opportunities.
Another point in SAS’s favor is extremely strong technical support. I have dealt with many companies tech support teams and what distinguishes SAS from many of the rest is a very deep set of talented individuals. Many of the tech support people have used SAS and been in support for 10 or even 15 years. I have received better support from SAS than from tech support at other companies as an employee of the company!
Finally, the ease with which exisiting SAS programs can be converted to stored processes and made available in the BI Server makes this the killer app if you are heavy on traditional SAS at your company. SAS stored processes provide a lot of power and flexibility and users are always wowed to see the results on the web, in Office, or in EG from one centralized version of the truth (the old SAS program updated for SAS BI.)