Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Jake Megeary
Analytics is fast becoming a major global decision-making tool in the world of business and SAS is working hard to increase its already significant market share in both its current spheres of interest, and new ones; namely looking closely at how analytics can be adapted to accommodate new verticals across the MEA region.
Fusing together a promise of data with agnostic analytical software allows SAS clients to discover industry trends that produce results far beyond the traditional methods available, offering new ways to drive business efficiencies.
SAS’ software solutions have proved to be a pivotal tool for companies operating across a growing number of verticals; from finance to telecoms and energy to governmental institutions and commercial businesses. Companies operating in all these industries have never been so determined to implement the right technological solutions to be competitive, efficient and opportunistic; actively seeking out advanced analytics, data management, cyber security, risk, fraud, integrated marketing solutions and all the other benefits that can be harnessed through the power of analytics.
SAS has been developing, and more importantly, implementing all of these software solutions for years; presenting a unique advantage for customers when it comes to implementing, integrating and supporting the deployment of these essential business decision-making tools globally.
Capitalising on Consumer Intelligence Growth
Given the size and complexity of its operations across MEA, SAS has never taken a one-size-fits-all approach. With a hybrid model that heavily leverages a strong partner-ecosystem, SAS MEA maintains a direct relationship with all of its customers.
“Our licence model requires us to be engaged with our customers at all times, irrespective of the go-to-market approach. The one common factor across all of Middle East and Africa is the importance of personal relationships with customers,” says Riad Gydien, VP Middle East and Africa, SAS.
“Ultimately, business is still conducted person to person. A handshake and personal commitment still goes a long way.”
Drawing from experience across the extensive product portfolio globally, SAS MEA has focused primarily on risk solutions for the financial sector; namely with a keen interest in fraud prevention and insurance, as well as other public sector interests.
Gydien comments: “Anti-money laundering (AML) has traditionally been deployed to banking institutions, however we are starting to see our products become more and more relevant in the telecom vertical as financial inclusion begins to take the African continent by storm.
“This convergence is driving growth for us in consumer intelligence across all industries, as everyone from retail to banking, telecoms to food & drink, are looking for ways to not only understand customer behaviour, but to engage in real-time across all channels. Consistency and relevance hold massive value and opportunity for our clients.”
Data management such as this is another key area of competence for SAS that complements its market-leading analytics capabilities.
“Combining these two skillsets means we are now able to progress to the next stage and become the go-to vendor in the region for big analytics,” he adds.
Not holding back
With the aim to double in size as part of a long-term plan in MEA, based on the fact that current demand far exceeds SAS’ reach and capacity at present, SAS is accelerating its growth plans to capitalise on crucial “pent-up market potential”.
IoT is driving growth in the technology industry and represents another core focal point for SAS MEA’s future investment. According to Gydien, “SAS has the capability to assist clients to find the kernels of value hiding in their data and can then utilise this to create a use case that drives innovation and market disruption”.
Underneath the same banner, SAS is also capitalising on opportunities in cloud and cyber security, two elements which are in high demand for enterprises. “Watch this space as we have two very exciting and groundbreaking products coming,” he emphasises.
With technology in the region fast outpacing - and sometimes even leapfrogging - technologies coming out of Europe and the US, SAS MEA is to grow every facet of its business to tackle the upcoming challenges and meet them with enthusiasm.
Gydien concludes: “MEA has the raw talent and the hunger for innovation across the region which never ceases to amaze me, and we will work hard to realise every opportunity possible.”
SAS MIDDLE EAST
Discovering the Hidden Treasures of Customer Data
Initially establishing a third-party presence in the Middle East and French-speaking African regions prior to 1993, SAS Middle East has grown to become one of the most important growth areas for the Company today. From its regional headquarters in Dubai, which were established in 2008, the Company has expanded aggressively into the Dubai Free Zone and invested in this market to further bolster its continued growth across the region.
“We now have an office branch in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Morocco, and more than 15 different nationalities working across these strategic locations. Moreover, our commitment to the region has been further demonstrated through our employee growth numbers over the past two decades,” recalls Shukri Dabaghi, Regional Director, Middle East & Francophone Africa (MEFA), SAS.
In recent years, interest and scope for analytics in the MEFA region has surged in popularity, with organisations in search of ways to turn large amounts of data into knowledge they can use to discover new insights and opportunities. He explains: “Previously, our clients were only looking to invest in ways to implement the latest ERP systems and warehousing solutions for example. However, this has since evolved beyond and companies are beginning to realise the value of the data they have been sitting on.
“The finance, telecoms, government, commercial, energy and oil & gas markets have matured in recent years, and customers are beginning to understand the value in adopting more decisive methodologies in decision-making; which is where our analytics software comes in.”
Knowing what the customer needs
With access to SAS software, customers across the MENA region have been able to match the technical capabilities of companies across the Western Hemisphere.
“Analytics are not as readily available within Africa and the market here is not yet fully educated on its existence and benefits. With this in mind, we are moving quite aggressively into North and French-speaking African countries and have so far had some major breakthroughs in this market,” Dabaghi summarises.
“Conversely, we have been active in the Middle Eastern markets for longer, and the market is more sophisticated. Clients are looking at analytics as a must-have, and we are looking to continue to build on our relationships here in order to form an even closer relationship with our customers.”
Advantageously, SAS’ agile complete solution offers seamless integration within any existing business environment, driving results quickly to actively and precisely address an organisation’s needs.
Dabaghi concludes: “We have been extremely responsive to customer requirements; leveraging our dedicated research and development teams to add new features and modifications where needed to satisfy demand. In telecoms for example, our customers are keenly looking at how they can utilise data insights to provide a more precise solution that addresses an individual’s requirements.
“Essentially, operators want to know what the customer wants, before the customer even asks.”
SAS SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Aligning with the Global Employment Strategy
SAS has been present in South Africa for 20 years, serving some of the country’s largest players operating across the finance, telecommunications, retail and public sectors. By focusing on modernising its advanced analytics, the Company is hoping to increase its footprint across these areas, offering clients the ability to harness the latest software solutions available; comprising customer intelligence, risk intelligence, data management and fraud.
“Given the current economic situation, where we are close to a recession, companies are being pushed towards ways to better understand how to use and manage their data,” says Desan Naidoo, Managing Director, SAS sub-Saharan Africa. “Our clients need to better understand customer requirements, what the most appropriate method to market is; they need to understand fraudulent leakage, ensure they are compliant to mandatory regulations and many more of these ‘need to do’s’. With SAS’ 40 years’ experience in analytics, we are best placed to help them solve their problems.”
In a market that is continually evolving and growing, Naidoo cites training as an important aspect to ensure that SAS remains competitive: “Our people are the primary reason for our continued success. Training is an important aspect to ensure that our employees are always abreast of the latest advancements, achieved through both regional and global cooperation.”
Aligning with the Company-wide vision to create a happy and motivated workforce to meet client needs, SAS South Africa has a very successful graduate programme that involves hiring graduates and putting them through a six-month intensive programme. After having qualified, each candidate can seek a permanent position among SAS’ customers and partners.
“SAS South Africa is aligned to the regional B-BBBEE goals and global employment strategy. We ensure that we recruit the best calibre people to ensure the service we provide to our clients is at the highest standard. Our workforce is a culturally diverse workforce, comprised of individuals who strive for individual career progression and Company success,” Naidoo summarises.
Bringing technology to life
In the next few years, SAS’ strong South African presence is to serve as the support base as part of the wider SAS Africa strategy to penetrate further into East and West markets. “With our major investments going into these two regions, with a concerted focus on the finance and telecoms sectors specifically, we are looking to hire into these countries to expand our footprint. So by leveraging the training expertise and exceptional relationship with partners and clients active across the continent, we can drive operational efficiencies in these new markets,” Naidoo concludes.
Capturing Market Opportunities
Globally, SAS has always held a strong presence in the finance and insurance industry, especially when it comes to implementing advanced analytics and all related solutions; from integrated marketing to fraud, data management to risk.
In Turkey, however, it is apparent that for players across the telecoms, energy, retail, ecommerce, manufacturing and even the government, these types of solutions are required in order to be competitive, efficient and sustainable.
To capture the opportunities across Turkey, SAS has taken some strategic decisions which Managing Director, Hakan Erdemli, believes have been paying off.
“Firstly, we have restructured our organisation to take a much closer look at these industries in order to understand their business and challenges and to map our solutions alongside this,” he says.
“In addition, we have leveraged our local and global Channel and Alliance Partners much more efficiently by aligning them with our strategies and initiatives where appropriate. These strategies and initiatives have allowed us to increase not only our existing base but also penetrate into all the aforementioned industries across the country with our technologies.”
SAS Turkey now offers consulting services and software solutions in five main areas namely; analytics, information management, integrated marketing management, risk management and financial crimes.
Two years ago, SAS Turkey initiated a graduate programme that is designed to attract the interest of the Y generation in a bid to retain the Company’s forward-looking approach to innovation and technology on the horizon.
By marrying together its own curriculum expertise for a Masters in Analytics, with local businesses, practical classes and tertiary education, SAS has created its own strategy for retention that addresses Turkey’s analytics skills shortage.
Erdemli notes: “Our involvement with various universities across the country is vital in addressing the different levels of market maturity we as a Company face in Turkey and Africa.
“Through the programme, we believe we can nurture our own culture, shorten the hiring process and continue to be the best at solving the very specific business problems that create the most value and return on investment for our clients that runs throughout the SAS value chain.”
He concludes: “Training and enablement locally is a crucial part of the business, and we promote internally where possible, encouraging our team members to take managerial roles. We have managers who started working at SAS as new graduates and they built careers by working hard and contributing significantly. We do our best to hire talent and to guide them effectively to construct career paths which not only generate job satisfaction for the individual, but makes our organisation sustainable in the long-term.
“SAS MEA has the most valuable ingredient for success: youth, which we must capitalise on to secure our future growth.”