Big surge in the use of data analytics

In conversation with Channel Post MEA, Abed Hamandi, Senior Regional Director – EMEA Emerging at SAS talks about data analytics and how SAS is helping regional organizations tap into the full potential of their analytic capabilities

As technology is advancing, data has become central to everything, so in such a scenario how do data analytics tools help organizations?
Over the past few years, companies and countries were forced to expedite their digital transformation and adopt new ways of doing business. As we all witnessed, COVID-19 accelerated changes in companies that were standing on the C-level agendas for years. Now, it has become clear that businesses need to make decisions based on data insights rather than relying on what worked in the past.

To stay at the forefront of the changes, organizations must innovate, and technology, particularly analytics, is crucial in this transformation. Automating repetitive, mundane tasks allows not only more efficient operations, but also allows employees to focus on innovation. This is true across different industries from retail, banking, telecom, government, and even education.

We need to help organizations tap into the full potential of their analytic capabilities. By us being cloud-first, and cloud-agnostic, we provide customers with the distinct advantage of analyzing intense data in the cloud, to realize value for their business.

How do you see the adoption of data analytics in the Middle East?
In recent years we have witnessed a big surge in the use of data analytics across the globe. This trend is even more apparent in our region which has dubbed data analytics the new oil. Projections indicate that the data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cyber security business in the Middle East and Africa is projected to grow at 20.4% to USD 28.36 billion by 2026.

We see that organizations are relying on data analytics for effective decision-making, revenue generation, cost savings, and operational and service excellence. Last year, Dubai was named the world’s first paperless and fully digitized government. We are seeing this shift in other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkiye, South Africa, Oman, and Egypt. This digitization was possible by adopting data analytics which has had a sizable impact on government leaders to optimize decision-making processes, develop e-services for citizens, and enhance security.

We were also able to replicate our successes in the Middle East throughout Africa and use the extensive experience we have in the region. We are keen to use our expertise and implement solutions for the development and betterment of citizens and countries whenever applicable. In this regard, we continue to collaborate with universities, local governments, and technology companies to ensure that data analytics and data science programs are easily accessible and part of the enablement initiatives.

Data analytics is a high skills area; how do you see the availability of talent both locally and globally?
We see a relentless competition among companies for technical talents across the globe. That is true for our region as well. But finding the right people with the right set of skills is just the first step. Retaining them is likewise a pressing concern for the whole industry.

SAS is committed to supporting the market in attracting, developing, and placing AI talents across the country. We have postgraduate and graduate programs at Amity University, the University of Fujairah, Middlesex University, and the University of Wollongong in Dubai. In addition, by cooperating with our customers, we make sure to bridge the existing skill gap and help organizations continue their digital transformation journey.

SAS has recently launched a teacher training initiative in collaboration with universities across South Africa, providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to inspire students to pursue careers in data analytics. SAS is an institute, we have strong ties with Academic institutions spanning through 40 years of our existence, and we stay committed to education.

How do you enable your channel partners to overcome such challenges and even offer support to the customers?
We take pride in our extensive expertise, tailored services, and training to align technology with everyday business needs across different industries. We also work closely with our customers to identify the challenges they are facing and provide solutions and professional services in the data analytics area to help them meet business objectives.

SAS is more than ready to support its partners and customers whenever demand for data analytics arises, by building Centers of Excellence. Additionally, we not only provide tailored solutions, but also the right human talents required to execute the project successfully. This is already a common practice in key markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, Turkiye and South Africa.

What size of an organization should look at engaging with you and why should a customer look at SAS to be their analytics partner of choice?
Across the globe, we offer our services from small and medium-sized enterprises to large enterprises. We are especially eager to assist SMEs and enterprises with integrated analytics solutions that are easy to install, manage and scale. There are three options which include on-site, private hosted cloud, public or community cloud, and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Our presence and partnership network are resilient. We work with some of the leading companies in this market such as Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Al Rajhi bank – KSA, Commercial International Bank – Egypt (CIB), Housing Bank for Trade & Finance – Jordan (HBTF), Saudi Export-Import Bank (Saudi EXIM Bank), MTN South Africa, and Moro Hub – UAE, Ziraat Bank – Turkey, to name very few among our customers in the region in addition to many large public sector organizations supporting them in the decisioning and analytics

In addition, we are giving special attention into providing the best solutions to support the Environmental, Social, and Governance – ESG initiatives. With needed expertise and advisory, along side the right solutions to make the required impact on the environment and the society, this is one of the best offerings in this regard which is becoming of high importance and need across all counties and sectors.

We are proud to have more than 40 years of trusted analytics innovation and around three decades of presence in the Middle East. I am thrilled to see what the future holds and what roles analytics and AI will play in advancing our societies.