One of the more active thought leadership campaigns I have seen recently is SAS Institute’s "Competing on Analytics." Featuring management guru Tom Davenport (see right side of screen capture below), the campaign is designed to entice prospects with a promise that left-brain, analytical approaches might differentiate them and drive revenue growth.

Davenport, who has been named one of the most influential consultants by Consulting Magazine, is a recognized thought leader for his work in knowledge management, business process reengineering and the economics of attention (to mention a few of his works). Now, he has turned his attention to the power of analytics as a force for competitive differentiation.

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In fact, Tom tells me that his recent piece on the subject in Harvard Business Review has generated more reader comments and feedback than any other article he has ever written. (As I am fascinated by the recent actions of analytically minded powerhouses like Harrah’s, Tesco and Capital One, I have written extensively on the topic myself.)

Headquartered in Cary, N.C., SAS is a privately held, $1.7B software company that makes the business intelligence and data analysis software that makes such efforts possible. Its tools are used by some of the leading data analysts and experts on the planet.

The SAS-Davenport campaign has appeared in such prestigious publications as the Wall Street Journal Online, the Economist and Information Week. Davenport’s perspectives on the subject have been included in Optimize Magazine among others.

SAS, which has promoted itself widely with a visually hypnotic print campaign (tagline: "The Power to Know") featuring a smart and chic looking blond model (am told she is actually an employee), now appears to be taking a deeper step into the realm of thought leadership marketing. This campaign identifies SAS with an emerging business trend as companies (and sports teams like Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s) turn increasingly to "evidence-based management" as opposed to doing things in a more intuitive fashion or simply relying on experience.

The "competing on analytics" campaign features the face of Davenport and the words: "Companies that are dominating their markets are aggressive analytics competitors." It then leads one to the SAS landing page, where one registers, and from there to a perpetually available webinar. (To get a copy of the original article that captures his research, you can register for it on Tom’s Babson College blog site.)

I am mostly struck by the ubiquity of this campaign in the online realm. I keep seeing it. Last fall, SAS even underwrote a conference with Harvard Business School that addressed the topic. My understanding is that event was perceived as highly successful by SAS in terms of the clients/prospects it attracted relative to the dollars invested.

In the coming weeks, I will be following up with SAS to try to get a report on the campaign’s performance and discuss their thoughts on future thought leadership campaigns.