SAS introduced a social media analytics program today that will compete against the major metrics players such as Radian 6 and WebTrends. The new service shows once again how blogs and social networks are deeply influencing marketing, customer support and product groups within the enterprise.

The SAS Social Media analytics service is different than many of the social technologies we look at in our coverage. It’s a hosted service that SAS builds for the client. The client develops the parameters for what they want to analyze. Rules are established that then server as the framework. Results are viewed through a web page that SAS sets up for the client.

Most of the services we see are delivered as a SaaS solution. For example, went live recently with Chatter that integrates Twitter, Facebook and other services. But SAS is a company with analytics at its core. It will take about a year for the company to build up the IP, the data, for specific market verticals. After that time, down, the road, it’s a service that could be delivered from the cloud.

But the learning behavior may be its key differentiator. Mark Chaves, product manager, SAS, said the service can be optimized to learn, based on inputs. For example, the sentiment analysis can be changed to reflect what has been learned. With most services, the sentiment analysis parameters are defined within the application and can not be altered.

The service reminds us a lot of what we see emerging in data analytics for the enterprise. The SAS service imports data from internal and external sources. It can archive and analyze more than two years of information from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, discussion forums, blogs and other sources. It is designed to provide a form of predictive analytics that can be applied, for example, to develop marketing strategies such as brand development.

Some of the other features include:

  • Analyzes structured and unstructured data from internal and external sources.
  • Quantifies influence, forecast future volume of social media conversations, and then predict their impact on the business.
  • Multiple language support.
  • Web-based dashboard.

SAS Social Media Analytics platform shows how deep social technologies are filtering into the enterprise. It’s important to identify data from social networks as additional data points that when integrated can provide insights, for instance, into campaigns and CRM environments.

The SAS offering reflects the DNA of the company. The focus is on data analytics. That seems like a logical approach. Social networks are producing data at an exponential rate. The SAS offering reflects how it is becoming more of a science to analyze the information from these networks and how its outcomes affect the entire enterprise.

Disclosure: SAS paid for a train ticket and hotel room for Alex Williams to attend the the SAS Users Conference in Seattle.]