SAS Sifts E-business Data

SAN MATEO (02/18/2000) - LOOKING TO TAP into the e-business trend of companies seeking to distill useful information about Web site visitors, SAS Institute in two weeks will release a series of data analysis products geared for personalization and clickstream analysis.

The offerings are designed to help businesses cull, analyze, and share information about their online customers and to taylor content according to individual customer profiles.

Under the e-Intelligence heading, SAS will roll out WebHound, an application that can compile and summarize data from Web server logs.

With consumer-oriented Web sites reaching up to several gigabytes of data per day, businesses need a tool to organize and report on information such as how consumers navigate through a site, SAS officials said.

SAS has also built an application, code-named e-Discovery, on top of its Enterprise Miner data mining software that will allow businesses to take clickstream information garnered from the Web and act on it. For example, based on a customer profile, a Web site will generate a different set of options or ads for that visitor, officials explained.

The capability of feeding data from the Web site to other customer relationship management applications via publish and subscribe middleware is a key selling point for SAS, said Mark A. Smith, an analyst at the Meta Group, in Stamford, Conn.

"Clickstream analysis is one more aspect of customer intelligence and yet another channel that needs to be analyzed and integrated as part of a CRM strategy," Smith said. "This is going to evolve fairly rapidly. Data mining tools have matured in terms of usability."

Profiling and segmentation will become increasingly important in the business-to-business arena as companies sign on to electronic trading exchanges, said John McIntrye, director of marketing strategy at SAS Institute.

"Companies will need some way beyond price to evaluate the risk of doing business with a new supplier," McIntrye said. Historical data of a supplier's ability to ship on time and measurements of product quality will help.

"In the past, you took the time to evaluate suppliers, but in e-marketplaces there may be 40 new suppliers, and you don't have a clue who they are," McIntyre said.

The third leg of the e-Intelligence initiative is IT Service Vision, an application that ties into system and network management platforms to measure the traffic volume on databases and call centers. By generating performance reports, IT professionals can better predict application loads and spot bottlenecks.

The data mining application e-Discovery costs $200,000; WebHound costs $80,000; and IT Service Vision is priced at $80,000. SAS Institute, in Cary, N.C., is at

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