REVIEWER: Mikhail Semenuik, director of analytics at TrueCar Inc.
BACKGROUND: TrueCar Inc. is an automotive solutions provider focused on changing how cars are sold. It provides a significantly better customer experience while helping qualified dealer partners to gain incremental market share and reduce costs. TrueCar.com is a transparent, visual publisher of new car transaction data. Its price reports help both dealers and consumers to agree on the parameters of a fair deal by providing an accurate, comprehensive, simple understanding of what others actually paid for the identically equipped new car over the last 30 days both locally and nationally.
PLATFORMS: We are running on a Linux CentOS 5.4 x86 platform. We will be moving servers during 2011 and have not made a decision whether we'll stick to CentOS, but we are definitely going to run on Linux.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Before SAS, we couldn't reliably forecast industry car sales. Using SAS forecasting software to analyze car prices, we can now create industry sales forecasts that account for fluctuations caused by the economy, market conditions and seasonality. The greater our accuracy, the greater benefit we provide to both dealers and consumers. Accurate forecasts have brought TrueCar the credibility that customers, dealers and partners require.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TrueCar selected SAS Office Analytics for Midsized Business and SAS forecasting software to improve marketing campaigns, industry sales forecasts, and reports on pricing and trends. The predictive analytics software makes fast work of analyzing a rolling set of 10 million transactions on as many as 20 data sources each week. Easy-to-use SAS Office Analytics for Midsize Business delivers data access, reporting and analytics directly from Microsoft Excel via integrated menus and toolbars. SAS forecasting software measures and predicts the benefits of marketing investments. TrueCar executives can now access an interactive dashboard packed with predictive insights, such as the effect of marketing spending on site traffic. Our return on investment has been significant. From data integration to predictive analytics, SAS made a quick improvement for our company. We were up and running the first week. Analysis that formerly took nine hours was completed in an hour, freeing up valuable analyst time for developing new products and services. SAS helped us optimize marketing campaigns, producing reports that once took two hours in only 15 minutes. SAS also identified fertile grounds for search engine marketing expansion. Since using SAS, search campaign revenue has grown fourfold while our cost per click is now less than half of what it was before.
STRENGTHS: We especially appreciate the way SAS Office Analytics for Midsize Business can compile and process data in multiple ways (data steps, SQL and hash tables) and the ability to run statistical procedures. We've taken advantage of its integration with Microsoft Office, JMP and SAS forecasting as well as its seamless connections to databases like MSSQL and MySQL. With SAS, we truly use the full depth and breadth of our data.
WEAKNESSES: I wish there was more online documentation for some of the advanced processing that SAS can do.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose SAS for two reasons. One is that our analytics team members were already familiar with the products. The second reason is that we knew that SAS would solve our analytics and computational needs as well as be a strong addition to our data processing technologies.
DELIVERABLES: Among the models that come out of SAS, the pricing model is most important to our business. You can see the results of that model when you use www.truecar.com. Thanks to SAS, TrueCar is the most accurate source for industry sales forecasts. SAS data sets feed the website directly as well as support a lot of proprietary algorithms that optimize our conversion funnel all the way from a visitor to a sale.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We appreciate that SAS came on-site and walked us though the initial installation. We have made requests for software upgrades and also taken part in new-feature trials. Each time, we received deployment packages within 24 hours of our request. We’re very happy with SAS support.
DOCUMENTATION: SAS documentation has great search engine optimization – probably the best of any product we use. Topics are very easy to find and understand. Our team can even learn about new SAS features though the documentation provided online.
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