1. Please tell us a few things about the concept of the ‘democratization of analytics’ and how it is perceived by Romanian companies.
Analytics are everywhere – managing business processes, shaping customer interactions, embedded in our smart phones and the apps we use. Through our experiences both as consumers and employees, we are becoming more aware of what data and analytics can do for us. We’re more attentive to the data we’ve got, and we use it differently. We become more curious, asking for more and better data, assuming that answers must be obtainable somewhere. We’re asking smarter questions, and the answers create business value.
We call this trend the ‘democratization of analytics.’ No longer the exclusive province of statisticians and specialists, analytics are for all of us, as we become more data-driven and analytical in our thinking and our work.
Ten years ago, ‘forecasting’ often meant the budget process. And if you said ‘predictive analytics,’ people’s eyes might glaze over. Today, we recognize what analytical models can help us do – anticipate customer responses, predict customer or employee attrition, optimize allocation of resources of all kinds, make smarter decisions faster. We may not be able to build the complex models and simulations ourselves, but we can appreciate and capitalize on the outputs of advanced analytics.
This democratization of analytics is a person-by-person phenomenon. However, collectively, these grassroots analysts are changing how enterprises function, and changing them in ways that the enterprise cannot directly control. This is happening whether enterprises like it or not. Leadership’s role is to encourage and enable citizen data scientists, steer them a bit through challenging goals, and empower their creativity and impact. The democratization of analytics makes for interesting times and enormous business opportunity.
The majority of Romanian companies are still either not on an analytical journey or, those who are engaged in analytics, are not ‘democratized’. I could explain this situation as part of the legacy that we have; nevertheless, the good news comes from the newcomers in the analytical world that understand and appreciate the power of analytical ‘democracy’ – quick improvements and short learning curve.
2. At worldwide level, SAS has morphed from a tools-based analytics company into a solutions-based company. What kind of solutions has SAS Romania provided in 2016, for whom, and how have these solutions been received?
In 2016, SAS Romania continued its traditional business strategy focused on the financial industry – and here we have delivered dedicated solutions for Marketing Optimisation and for Risk Management. Nonetheless, we are steadily advancing into the manufacturing and energy territories, where we are consolidating our position – especially into the Data Management & Information Systems, closely followed by the Forecasting and Operational Optimization.
3. If there is data being produced, SAS is most likely analyzing it – from fighting fraud in banking and insurance (HSBC is using such a solution – http://www.sas.com/en_us/customers/HSBC.html), to finding cures for some of the world’s most dangerous diseases – for instance, giving researchers access to the largest cardiovascular database in the world. In your opinion, for which sectors are SAS analytics solutions a must?
Three years ago, we talked about Analytics Culture; last year, the focus was on Analytics for EVERYone – democratization of analytics, with new tools to facilitate the use of analytics pervasively in the company. Today is dedicated to Analytics EVERYwhere, underlining the widespread of analytic solutions. The driving force is the Internet of EVERYthings that brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – turning information into actions that create new capabilities and richer experiences, affects many aspects of the everyday life and contributes to the data explosion, opening the doors to new business models and services. The economist Jeremy Rifkin talks about the third industrial revolution, at zero marginal cost. The modern era is characterized by many disruptive elements: product co-development with customers, interpenetration of industries, ‘new deal on data’ (people share personal information in exchange for value added services); democratization of information and analytics; streaming analytics to process data when they are generated.
As implied, simply producing data triggers the usage of data and usage of data is Analytics. In short, my answer is EVERYWHERE.
4. What is the most important feedback from your clients/ prospective clients that you received in 2016?
Unity & simplicity. In my opinion, more and more of our clients are looking for a ‘Swiss Army Analytical Tool’, capable of performing from very approachable analysis to advanced and very specialized statistical analytics. A tool that can be flexible, as well as scalable. For this reasons, we have launched in 2016 the SAS Viya.
SAS Viya is a unique platform that enables your organization to quickly conquer all kinds of analytical challenges; to easily assemble and share solutions built with embedded analytical services; to build governed applications, quickly deliver answers and consistently get the best results. Its open architecture serves everyone from data scientists to business analysts, from application developers to executives. Moreover, it provides the reliable, scalable and secure analytics inventory management and governance necessary for agile IT enablement.
SAS Viya helps your organization handle the ever-changing and ever-growing range of analytical demands. Regardless of how many users you have, what size your data is or how it’s refreshed, you’ll get answers fast. The architecture is designed with resilient distributed processing for optimized analytical workloads.
With SAS Viya, it is possible to integrate all aspects of the analytical life cycle – whether they are in SAS, from other programming languages like Python, Java or Lua, or called from your own applications using public REST APIs. You can access the power of SAS in one managed and monitored platform, with a single inventory of all analytical assets. Moreover, you can solve synchronization issues arising from different code bases. As a central backbone for analytics, the cost of updates between different environments is eliminated and you no longer need to spend time worrying about compliance issues and more time on innovation.
5. What’s the biggest opportunity that you perceived in the business environment in 2016 and how can SAS Romania’s solutions help customers take advantage of this opportunity?
For me, the biggest opportunity is the deregularization of the energy market. Across Europe, the energy market liberalization has reached different levels, as each member state approached the process in its own way. While some of the countries viewed the liberalization process as a necessity in order to maintain the community prosperity, evolution, international competitiveness and economic growth, others preferred to maintain the government monopoly. The liberalization process started in late 1990s when the creation of the European Common Market brought into attention the fact that the differences between energy prices in the European countries affect the competitiveness of national companies.
The liberalization of the energy market in Romania means, as we’ve seen so far, the separation of the main activities of generation, transport, distribution and supply (UNBUNDLING), step that has already been taken. At the moment, a consumer can freely choose their supplier in theory. The next step would be the government’s release of the price control (DEREGULATION). Another related topic is how to implement a new infrastructure that can enable such a complex process and address Environmental Concerns (SMART GRIDS).
Energy Liberalizations also means new players, new processes, new rules and new business. SAS Business Analytics for the energy sector, leveraging on 40 years of successful history and more than 500 customers from the energy sector, can help increase the system efficiency and reduce the total price for customers. In particular, SAS Business Analytics supports in a unique, integrated way, new business development for all players: regulated operators and market operators.
New business development for regulated operators means: reducing operation and asset costs, managing uncertain and limited visibility, fraud management, smart grid and renewable energy and, finally, sell value added services.
For market operators, business development implies market penetration, competitive analysis, customer management and revenue assurance.
SAS can support (and we already did it) all these processes, providing a holistic Architecture (High Performance Business Analytics Framework) and dedicated Business Analytics Engine for Consumer-based analytics, Risk Management, Situational awareness – gained through sensor and reporting the health of the equipment on an ongoing basis – and Grid optimization analytics for transmission & distribution networks.
6. In terms of the business environment, what do you want to see in 2017 and what would you not like to happen?
I want to see genuine production growth and stability. Th1. Va rugam sa ne spuneti cateva lucruri despre conceptul de "Democratizarea de analiza" si cum este el perceput de firmele romanesti.ese two elements will allow the business environment to start thinking in strategic terms and give away the constant fire fight that practically paralysed and disabled the development. I want us to have the necessary time to think – in terms of 6 months to 12 months for an upgrade and optimization project; I want us to have time to think ‘what if’? I want us to produce and use scenarios based on real data insight and not only on our gut feeling.
7. As a business leader, please make a statement about what the new administration resulted from the elections should bring for the business environment in 2017.
The new administration should bring macroeconomic and legislation stability, fundamentally restructure state-owned companies, focus on EU funds absorption and encourage businesses that bring added value.