SAS launches Real-Time Decision Manager

Application puts cross-sell opportunities into the business process

With the introduction of Real-Time Decision Manager from SAS, the expanding use of predictive analytics synchronized to work with a concurrent business process will receive a major boost.

The SAS technology taps into the wealth of analytical data gathered from a company’s databases and scores the company's customers for potential up-sell and cross-sell marketing opportunities.

For example, during a transaction -- be it a telephone customer service call or a Web purchase -- Real-Time Decision Manager can direct the customer service representative (CSR) to offer the customer an additional service or product or make an online offer.

SAS's global marketing manger Larry Mosiman, believes that Decision Manager will increase wallet share for its customers and help to reduce customer attrition, especially in the highly volatile communications industry.

The technology creates a decision diagram that can be based on new information that is captured during the course of a transaction, said Mosiman.

"Real-Time Decision Manager is all about putting the process flow together to take into account the information gained, even during a conversation that might affect the outcome," said Mosiman.

The technology typically comes back with a sub-second response and will handle approximately a thousand transactions per minute. 

The concept of decision making in real time is not new. Companies as far back as Compaq were designing similar products; one in particular Compaq called ZLE, for Zero Latency Enterprise.

The idea behind real-time decision making, according to Gareth Herschel, a Gartner analyst, has a number of major components.

First, it makes intelligent decisions part of the business process.

"Instead of having somebody going off and doing analysis that is not tied into a business process, this is part of the process," said Herschel.

The other key component is that this is not just a way of scoring the customer. Rather, it recommends an action to an agent and may even provide a script for the agent to follow for an up-sell opportunity.

There are challenges to the idea, however.

Mainly, CSRs are not typically salespeople who are comfortable up-selling a customer. In addition, it flies in the face of how call centers work.

Keeping service center costs down is typically based on how quickly a CSR can handle a customer's problem and get them off the phone or off-line. By trying to up-sell or cross-sell a customer, more contact time -- not less -- will be required.

Nevertheless, Herschel said although SAS is late to the market with this kind of product, because of its clout in the industry, the idea of  putting decision-making at the point of sale will gain wider acceptance in the enterprise.

SAS also announced 1-800-Flowers as its first customer for the product, which is shipping now.