SAS adds Generative AI to Customer Intelligence 360 Martech platform

Generative AI, with its focus on content creation, is particularly well suited to marketing and, responsibly managed, can enhance all aspects of the marketing process.

Jon Moran, Head of Martech Solutions Marketing at SAS

LAS VEGAS – One of the specialized announcements made during the SAS Explore event here, which concludes today, is the integration of Generative AI capabilities to the SAS Customer Intelligence 360 Martech platform. It makes marketers much more effective by using Generative AI models to upgrade the whole customer engagement life cycle, from marketing planning and audience creation at the start, through to journey design, and  creating channel specific creative, and concluding with reporting and measurement. It’s flexibility should also make it attractive to channel partners.

“The solution area in SAS that focuses on Martech we call customer intelligence, but it’s essentially a customer engagement platform that runs alongside of other SAS technologies,” said Jon Moran, Head of Martech Solutions Marketing at SAS. “SAS Customer Intelligence 360 is the actual name of the Martech platform. When you say the words ‘customer intelligence,’ people think we do competitive intelligence or something like that, but that’s not we do. About six years ago, we actually considered changing the name, and we conducted a study around that, and after several months the company that we worked with on this found that we actually had some brand equity and brand recognition with that term, and we should keep that name.”

The new Generative AI capabilities involves the capability of integrating SAS with generative AI providers for assistance in streamlining marketing planning, content creation. It is integrated with the Customer Intelligence 360 platform.

“It’s not a separate product, but just a capability that has been added to the platform,” Moran noted. As a result, it’s not a separate product that SAS marketing customers have to buy.

He stressed that the addition of the new Generative AI capabilities does not change fundamentally what the platform does.

“It is a custom integration whereby if an organization is prepared to start using Generative AI capabilities, they can, along with SAS, set up this integration where they can bring the Large Language Model [LLM] provider of their choice, such as Chat GPT, Open AI or Google Bard. The purpose of that integration is not to  replace the work that marketers are doing, but instead to enhance their power with speed, with productivity, and with quicker time to market for a lot of the  marketing tasks that they’re already doing.”

Moran stressed that the new capabilities really empower marketers from a content creation perspective.

“The thing that Generative AI in marketing is most commonly known for is the ability to create content,” he said. “It can generate images, subject lines for emails, and really any other types of creative that that a marketer may want to use. And the reason that’s nice is because you know a marketer can say, well, you know, I’ve got an idea for an email that I want to send out, but it needs to be focused on a certain region, in a certain season, and it will give you multiple variations of content options for that.

“Because the Generative AI helps to actually create the structure of the emails, you know you can generate a segment, bring it in, generate content and bring it in, and add in subject lines and images and that sort of thing. It can handle that whole entire process.”

Moran also emphasized SAS’s focus on safely and responsibly introducing generative AI technology into marketing environments, including prioritizing data privacy, ensuring AI-generated content is reviewed and approved by humans, and all work is shown, meaning that the process is transparent to indicate how an AI algorithm arrived at its conclusions and recommendations.

“We are very focused with this integration on seriously urging that Generative AI is not a silver bullet and it shouldn’t be used in a standalone capacity,” he said. “There should be guardrails and approvals and those sorts of things in place. Generative AI is not yet to the point where it can just be set loose in the wild, so to speak.”

Moran said that SAS enjoys a competitive advantage in what is swiftly becoming a growing market not just because of their long analytics experience, but because of their open approach to integrating Generative AI.

“I think one of the things that’s differentiates us from those competitors is a lot of the things that they’re announcing involve integration to a single generative AI provider. One of the things that we did purposefully was we said you can bring your own provider. So if you’re already working with an Amazon Sagemaker or a Bedrock, or Google Bard, you can bring that to this integration, versus us telling you which one you have to use. We leave it completely up to the customer that we’re working with or the prospect that we’re talking to. We’re not breaking it out and saying, you know, you’re in retail, you have to use this or you should use this. We’re leaving that up to the organization.”

The extent to which the reseller channel is involved with marketing platforms varies considerably by company, but given SAS’s focus now on improving the ability of partners to bring in deals, this new capability should attract partner interest.

“This could certainly work for channels,” Moran said. “They could certainly leverage this and use this as a as a talking point or selling point. This is very flexible, and because this integration is set up through our SAS connector framework, it allows organizations to not only integrate with Generative AI, but with other kinds of technologies in solutions in their platform ecosystem. There are a variety of different use cases that can be satisfied with this broader framework for custom integrations.”