Marcio Dobal, Senior Region VP, APAC, SAS, speaks on the new technology trends, the role of CIOs and the buying trends of the organizations in a fast-changing analytics landscape.
What key technology trends are changing the enterprise landscape and IT demands for organizations in 2017?
High performance analytics that started few years ago, is now increasingly adopted across industries. The new technologies will change a lot more in this totally different era of digital business. In terms of shorter time frame, the companies will realize that there is not enough space to store all the data generated by them or their business stakeholders. Trends like IoT will catalyze the emergence of analytics at the edge. CIOs will be able to segment the data immediately at the point of creation and decide what should be collected and processed into the system for timely business decisions. Some irrelevant data can be discarded at the end point itself.
It is a very disruptive model with the ability to analyze data qualitatively and quantitatively powered by an easier method to collect and process technology. There will be new business models, and different types of companies, which do not exist today. Big data and analytics will create new opportunities in terms of business and jobs.
The organizations not practicing an analytics-first approach will be severely at a disadvantage.
Marcio Dobal, Senior Region Vice President, Asia & Pacific, SAS
Does that imply that the companies not traversing the ‘analytics route’ will get disrupted or eventually shut down?
Analytics is becoming the backbone of any company – modern or legacy – across verticals. If you don’t adopt technology that is widespread and delivers business benefits, then you are severely handicapped. For companies to stay relevant to customer needs, grow the business and stay ahead of their competition, they have to leverage technology at the forefront. Organizations not practicing an analytics-first approach will be at a severe disadvantage.
How has the face of analytics solutions changed over the years in the industry? There is advanced analytics, predictive analytics, visual analytics to name a few.
Visualization is important because it allows people to be more knowledgeable and take advantage of analytics effectively. It is generally the first step towards advanced analytics. SAS visualization tools include both visual analytics and visual statistics that help companies to probe their data deeper than basic reporting. Easy to use visualization tools which encompass the analytics components will be widespread in the analytics culture. Analytics answers the questions raised by the companies with respect to their data to better their business. Descriptive analytics answers what has happened while predictive analytics allows you to forecast ahead. Prescriptive analytics not only provide information about what will happen but also suggest the best course of action for a given situation. Whether descriptive, predictive analytics or prescriptive analytics, all of them are relevant to the business.
There is good opportunity for batch analytics but the sexy portion will be the ‘right there, right then’ analytics at the edge that will lend a huge competitive differentiator for companies.
Marcio Dobal, Senior Region Vice President, Asia & Pacific, SAS
The smart decision largely depends on the software’s algorithm and the extensive data in the system. For example, pushing a special offer on customer’s smartphone in a supermarket or offering a car insurance to a person seeking home loan in bank branch. It is about ‘when do you act and at what price’. There is a good opportunity for batch analytics but the sexy portion of analytics will be ‘right there, right then’ at the edge, lending a huge competitive differentiator for companies.
What do CIOs and CTOs of modern businesses expect from technology vendors like SAS? Has analytics moved beyond RoI - TCO?
They expect as much help as possible from us though we are not uber experts like the key stakeholders running their business. But I think with 40 years of analytics experience behind us, customers expect a good amount of industry expertise from us. SAS has always been historically focused and strong on business side than only on the tech side. But especially non-analytics customers expect guidance in relation to their business and that’s the big help we can give because we have seen most of use cases.
There is certain level of knowledge we can transfer from one situation to another. Providing the ‘hit and run’ tool to customers and then approach them only during annual renewals does not fly anymore. Today, it’s all about partnering with your customers and helping them with their business decisions.
Marcio’s bucket list for CIOs’ analytics journey
Customers are expecting vendors to share some amount of risk in terms of completion of the projects maybe even paying on demand. For example we have an offering like result as a service.
Would the company’s predominant focus on enterprise segment trickle down to SMBs. Do you see analytics move to the cloud across this small and medium businesses?
While majority of our business are still attributed to big corporations, the new technology platform SAS Viya will open the doors at the entry level. Viya is a modern, open platform that conquers analytics challenges – from experimental to mission-critical - with smart algorithms. SAS Viya is a single, cloud-ready environment which is open source based that serves data scientists to businesses to app developers. Our existing customers can extend their analytics journey with Viya as natural extension. But smaller companies less mature on analytics can move to Viya which allows them to be elastic and start small on cloud environment.
This year in APAC, we are implementing inside sales and a robust program of channels. SAS historically has not been overly friendly to channels mainly because of the sophistication of its technology. But some products like visualization tools are more manageable for channels, hence we building a channel structure supported by contact centers to feed leads into the ecosystem. The channels need support from us in terms of handfed them with training, leads and other initiatives. We expect more business to come from non-traditional market space over next couple of years with channel business contributing a significant portion.
What do you prescribe as dos and don’ts for CIOs and CDOs on their analytics journey.
First, try to understand the benefits of analytics. Seeking the right answers to the line of questions and the value that data can bring into IT infra. Hence education of the market becomes critical. CIOs should refrain from big-bang approach as there are pockets of departments and functions as the first obvious choice for analytics. Start the roll over in baby steps and I would recommend for CIOs to not stay put. If you are not over confident especially with the limited talent pool available, CIOs should start small in their analytics journey.
In the end, the analytics journey is all about education and awareness and importantly start the journey even if start small.
What according to you will be the three big trends in analytics and BI domain in next couple of years?
IoT is reality today as we have done fairly large deals in Japan as an example. Analytics at the edge will come to the fore because of the unavailability of the storage space for large amount of data. The company can process everything with large of processing power with cognitive over next three to five years but there is not enough network and disk space for every inch of data to be stored and analyzed for better business benefit.
That data is collected in all forms from all sorts of sources ranging from smart meters to oil rigs to airplanes. That’s opportunity for us to help customers to decide what data is needed and how it can be analyzed for better business outcomes. The sophistication of cloud computing too will fuel the generation of data.
Sophistication of Cognitive Computing and AI as whole is an interesting space. This is a space that SAS is actively part of today and will continue to deliver innovative solutions to both the government and corporate.