SAS’ Channel Play

SAS last month kicked off an ambitious new effort to train and educate VARs, integrators, and other resellers about its BI software

What’s the biggest impediment to BI uptake among small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB)? Skills, savvy industry watchers say. SMBs have the desire and the will, but they lack the savvy. Never fear: some BI vendors are trying to help them in this department, too.

Take SAS Institute Inc., which last month announced the formation of a new channel business unit for value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators, and ISVs. The idea, SAS officials say, is to train and educate VARs, integrators, and other resellers about SAS software so that they can in turn do the heavy lifting for—and provide personalized service to—SMB customers.

“Alliances play a critical part in SAS’ overall business strategy for delivering and implementing SAS software. Now we’re going to the next level by including a ‘sell-through’ approach,” said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, in a statement. “Building out our network of partners to formally include VARs gives us an excellent opportunity to build our revenue stream and ensure that businesses of all sizes have better access to the power of SAS business intelligence. These relationships will be invaluable to the future success of SAS.”

SAS is by no means the only vendor that’s hip to the importance of active and knowledgeable channel partners. Major BI players such as Business Objects, Cognos Inc., and Hyperion Solutions Corp., among others, have thriving channel practices, and most of the larger BI players have firmed up relationships with systems integrators and other hands-on professionals.

But SAS officials say their new BI channel program isn’t a shot in the dark, either: SAS tapped industry veteran Miles Mahoney—who helped build initiatives for Business Objects (along with the former Crystal Decisions), as well as Borland Software—to head up the effort. SAS’ new channel program will be supported by dedicated partner development teams, internal channel sales teams, and system engineers, and—at this point, anyway—will focus on SAS’ business intelligence (BI), data integration and advanced analytics software practices.

“This channel sales program will significantly increase SAS’ market penetration by authorizing our channel partners to resell the most comprehensive business intelligence software on the market,” said Mahoney, VP of SAS’ Strategic Alliances and Channels division, in a statement. “By implementing a channel-neutral model and investing our sales efforts into top-level industry VARs, we’ve created a win-win dynamic for us, our partners and our customers.”

SAS’ reseller roster is already replete with players, including VARs like Aviana Global Technologies, Claraview, COMSYS, Creative Computing, Mainline Information Systems, Qualex and ThotWave. SAS also plans to harness the reseller might of existing partners such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.