SAS Acquires Teragram

In a not terribly surprising move SAS announced that it is acquiring Teragram on Monday. Seth Grimes of Intelligent Enterprise covers the announcement here. CMS Watch discusses it here.

This is basically a replay of the $76M Business Objects / Inxight deal last May.

At a trends level, this is about the BI vendors (can you say that anymore? perhaps I need to say BI vendor since SAS is the only independent left) wanting to perform analytics against both structured and unstructured data. For most of the evolution of the BI category, unstructured data was not part of the picture. Only in the past few years, has it really hit radar in the BI community.

The approach these folks typically take is use text mining engines to structure the unstructured data. For example, identify which documents talk about which products. Identify which documents have which tone. Then load that data into the data warehouse so you can run a report that shows sales by week with two more columns added: number of emails to customer support and % negative in tone.

Put differently, when you have a multi-billion dollar data infrastructure and you’re faced with content what do you want to do with it? Turn it into data. This is not a bad start and it does enable more and better dashboards and reports. However, to build really powerful content analytic applications, I believe that you need a specialized server (i.e., an XML server like MarkLogic) to handle the documents.

In many ways, it’s like OLAP. If you wanted basic slice and dice you could build that into a reporting tool. But if you wanted real OLAP — big databases, instant performance, complex analysis — then you needed specialized DBMS — an OLAP server — to do it.

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