ANTWERP: The chief executive of SAS has urged companies with an international footprint to use the power of data analytics to focus energies and investments in the right areas.
Jim Goodnight said at the firm's Premier Business Leadership Series event in Belgium on Wednesday that more business leaders are starting to realise the benefits of making changes based on facts rather than instinct.
"The growth of data generated today means that more companies are starting to understand it as a strategic asset," he said.
"A chief executive can rely on judgement if a business only operates in one country, but if it goes international they need to use analytics to know where to put investments and focus efficiency, as well as understanding positioning and competition."
However, a live poll conducted during Goodnight's keynote showed that more than half of the 600 attendees did not believe that business leaders have a good enough understanding of business analytics.
Nevertheless, Goodnight explained that SAS is seeing strong uptake of business intelligence and analytics in a number of core markets, including insurance, banking and, most recently, retail with department store chain Macy's.
The store uses SAS products to re-price one million items across its 850 stores each week.
Goodnight noted some key trends in the analytics capabilities being demanded, including deduplication technologies to achieve cleaner data, and the establishing of analytics competency centres within an organisation.
"These are centres where staff can go for advice and ask how analytics will help them with their working day," he explained.
Interestingly, Goodnight revealed that SAS uses its own products to monitor support calls and identify customers that may stop using its products. These customers can then be offered extra training courses or assistance.
In another novel use, Accenture chief executive Pierre Nanterme said at the event that the company uses analytics tools to identify staff who may be thinking of leaving.
"We have 220,000 employees and retention is hugely important to us, so we use analytics on our own people to catch early signs of when they might leave," he explained.
Earlier at the event, SAS announced upgrades to its fraud and risk management software for banks to help watch for fraud in real time and adhere to regulatory requirements.
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