SAS can increase your reach by helping you jump (JMP)

Yesterday, I had a chance to wander the demo floor at this year’s SUGI (SAS Users Group International) conference in San Francisco. Eleanor Taylor of SAS’ marketing strategy group showed me around, making sure I had a chance to see some of the progress they’ve made since my visit to their campus in Cary, North Carolina last November. The highlight of the day was my first opportunity to see in action their statistical discovery product JMP, which was demonstrated by the man who created the product and continues to manage its development, John Sall, one of the co-founders of SAS. JMP (pronounced “jump”), has been around since the late 1980s, and is farily well known in academic, scientific, and statitistical circles, but not so much in the world of buisness intelligence. For those of you data analysts who are not intimidated by sophisticated statistics, this is a product that’s worth a look. For the rest of us, I would love to see a simplfied version of JMP.

People tend to think of SAS as a statistics software company. I rarely hear BI professionals mentioning SAS in the same sentence as companies like Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion. You can find SAS software everywhere, but so far it has appealed primarily to particular industries such as government, academia, and science, and to enclaves of the statistically inclined in the broader business world. There is such great functionality built into their software for making sense of data, I’d love to see it reach a broader audience, but to do so I believe SAS will need to consolidate its product offerings to reduce the confusion that buyers experience when faced with an entire demo floor of separate products that overlap more than they differ. In many cases, the same basic functionality is offered in unnecessarily different ways using different interfaces, when a consistent approach would better serve SAS and its customers. Quoting Thoreau, I would like to see SAS “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

I hope to spend some time in the next few weeks taking a closer look at JMP, which is jam-packed with useful functionality. Perhaps I’ll be able to make a few suggestions for simple changes that could open this product up to a broader audience of business people–that is, to those without advanced training in statistics. Perhaps a version that doesn’t JMP (jump) quite so far, but gives business people the steady springboard they need to dive comfortably into their data. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at JMP and let me know what you think.


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