Data-driven culture accelerates adoption of analytics : Noshin Kagalwalla, SAS

Analytical strategies are discussed at an executive level to out-think and out-do the competition, says Noshin Kagalwalla, MD at SAS India.

SAS is focused on its core areas viz. Advanced Analytics, Fraud Intelligence, Risk Management, Customer Intelligence & Data Management. “SAS Viya and Results as a Service have both garnered a strong interest amongst our customers and we are very confident that these will contribute in a major way to SAS India’s business in 2017 and beyond,” says Noshin Kagalwalla, MD, SAS India.

What are key technology trends changing the enterprise landscape and IT demands for organizations in 2017?

Data and analytics capabilities have made a leap forward in recent years particularly on the frontiers of IoT and machine learning. The volume of available data has grown exponentially, more sophisticated algorithms have been developed, and computational power and storage have steadily improved. Organizations now have troves of raw data combined with powerful and sophisticated analytics tools to gain insights that can improve operational performance and create new market opportunities. The convergence of these trends is fueling rapid technology advances such as SAS VIYA and driving business disruptions.

SAS Product Suite includes SAS VIYA, SAS Visual Analytics (Business Intelligence), Advanced Analytics, Customer Intelligence, Data Management, Fraud & Security Intelligence, Risk Management, SAS Cloud Analytics, Solutions for Hadoop

Visualization is generally the first step in the democratization of big data and organizations are increasingly looking to make analytics accessible to everyone using the power of visual analytics.  To this end, cloud and social media are also helping in democratizing analytics.

Today, enterprises across industries are leveraging inexpensive technologies such as Hadoop to analyze huge amounts of customer data, understand patterns and subsequently personalize their promotions and offer to their customers. That’s the trend of Hyper-Personalization.

With Internet of Things, businesses have started to look for opportunities to realize value from data coming in from sensors and connected devices in a wide variety of ways - the application areas can range from improving existing services to creating new markets altogether. That’s Monetization of Data.

What is the maturity index of Indian organizations in terms of adopting the analytics suite?

The highly competitive and fast-moving global economy demands the organizations to take decisions in near real-time. While there are the usual early adopters and laggards, organizations across sectors, and even the agencies within government have realized that these decisions can no longer be made based on gut feeling or hunches and the fact that by embracing an analytical culture, they stand to gain a competitive advantage.

Consequently, we see a very high demand for data scientists and data analysts who are equipped with great problem-solving skills and can identify creative ways of incorporating analytics into the DNA of a business or the very product or service which the organization has to offer to the clients.We see huge market potential in India. In fact, a recent EIU report shows India as one of the top 5 countries with the fastest GDP growth forecast for this year. With India focusing on becoming digitally enabled, and with mobility becoming all pervasive, the India's analytics market presents a very interesting opportunity for these companies.

What typical pain points do CIOs and CTOs encounter to manage a colossal amount of data inside and outside their corporate network?

Regardless of size or industry sector, organizations collect all types and amounts of data. Unfortunately, traditional archi­tectures and existing infrastructures aren’t designed to deliver the fast analytical processing needed for rapid insights. As a result, IT is swamped with constant requests for ad hoc analyses and one-off reports. The challenge is going through the sheer volumes of data and accessing the level of detail needed, all at a high speed. Increasingly, people want to explore data and search for answers –when they want, where they want and how they want to – without asking IT for data or reports.

Even if you can analyze data quickly and put it in the proper format for the audience to consume the information, the results will be sub-optimal if the data is not accurate or timely. This is a challenge with any data analysis, but when considering the volumes of information involved in big data projects, it becomes even more pronounced.  Add to that the complexity of an IT environment with emerging data sources like Hadoop colliding with traditional data sources like databases. For the CIO, the data challenges of the past just got trickier.

Many times, we see that the IT function who are generally custodians of the data, may not be aware of where the value resides, while the business leaders may not understand the nuances of data management, storage & governance.  These silos create a challenge in providing a single version of the truth and analytics appears to be used primarily as a tactical tool, rather than for strategic decision-making. 

With competitive pressures mounting, business analytics today is not a good to have scenario, but a must have scenario to succeed in today’s challenging market place where humungous amount of data is being created.


Noshin Kagalwalla, Managing Director, SAS India

The data can be an incredible source of insight – if organizations have the tools, skills, and expertise to understand how to turn that data into usable information. Not every organization has that mix of resources and capabilities to make the most of their data. One challenge we keep hearing is the lack of analytics talent to help plan and execute on analytics projects. 

How does technology provider like SAS come to their rescue and adhere to CIOs’ expectation list including delivering business outcomes?

To help organizations explore and make sense of their data SAS offers Visual Analytics which provides a complete platform for analytics visualization, enabling you to identify patterns and relationships in data that weren’t initially evident. Inter­active, self-service BI and reporting capabilities are combined with out-of-the-box advanced analytics so everyone can discover insights from any size and type of data, including text. Similarly, a number of leading organizations are leveraging SAS Data Management that helps CIOs get data access, data quality, data inte­gration and data governance all from a single platform.

To have healthy collaboration between the IT department and its lines of joint ownership and regular meetings with both the business leader and the IT leader are paramount to drive enterprise-scale results in revenue growth, profitability, return on capital, customer value and other measures of value, are bound to make the effort worthwhile.

SAS understands that not every organization has that mixture of resources and capabilities to make the most of their data. To help these organizations, SAS® Results as a Service (RaaS) is designed to deliver analytic results to key business problems or initiatives. The flexible delivery model lets you apply SAS technologies in the way that meets your business and IT needs – whether on the cloud or on premise.

From purely a talent standpoint, we have also been working with local Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and has joint programs on Analytics with the likes of IIM Bangalore, ISB, NMIMS & VESIM to provide academic programs, to facilitate industry attachment programs, and to develop and enhance analytics capabilities for local students and professionals. In 2016, we also launched SAS® Academy for Data Science which is the first data scientist course of its kind that offers industry-recognized credentials & certifications in big data, advanced analytics, nd data science.

Which verticals have emerged as the early adopters of analytics in India? Does SAS have customized product approach for its analytics products like VA, enterprise miner, predictive analytics as per verticals?

With competitive pressures mounting, business analytics today is not a good to have a scenario, but a must have scenario to succeed in today’s challenging marketplace where a humungous amount of data is being created. We definitely see rapid adoption of analytics beyond the usual suspects of BFSI & Manufacturing. Each year, billions of rupees of tax paid by citizens are lost due to improper payments, fraud, waste and abuse. Hence it is no surprise that Government is one of the most active adopters of analytics as they look to detect & mitigate fraud.

4 Deliverables of Cloud Analytics


Fewer administrative headaches.


Guaranteeing data security.


Ensuring high availability.


Reduced costs - Transparency around TCO.


While SAS is a product company, we are solution oriented in our approach with customized for several industry verticals and to specific business areas as well. For example, Customer Intelligence Suite helps organizations orchestrate individualized, contextual interactions that its customers will find relevant, satisfying and valuable. Similarly, SAS has proven methodologies and best practices to help organizations establish a risk-aware culture, optimize capital and liquidity, and meet regulatory demands. This means on-demand, high-performance risk analytics in the hands of risk professionals to ensure greater efficiency, transparency and better regulatory compliance. SAS has comprehensive solutions tailored for a large number of industries.

Do you see more of CIOs/ CDOs / LoBs of India Inc. calling the shots on analytics and BI projects? Is there sync between business and IT team?

Increasingly, as Analytics has become a strategic imperative, we are engaging in conversations with both CIOs and the LOB/ Business Unit heads. Who calls the shots, depends on the organization structure as well as the specific requirement. For example, conversations around IFRS9 accounting standard compliance typically will involve Compliance officers, Finance and Risk Management professionals in Banks. On the other hand, a data management initiative may involve the IT function more heavily.

The sync between business and IT too varies in the Indian context. It is more reflective of the maturity of the organization. However, we definitely see that are waking up to the fact that collaboration across departments is paramount to drive enterprise-wide results and that a cultural shift that needs to happen if the business has to embrace a data-driven culture.

What about the trend of Indian enterprises exploring analytics-on-cloud? Any roadblocks you foresee on this route?

The need for fast and flexible access to high-powered analytics has never been greater than it is today. Fortunately, the cloud still holds the promise of making analytics more ubiquitous than ever before. The SMB segment especially is an attractive one as organizations are keenly looking at moving to an OPEX model from a traditional CAPEX model.

While there are no roadblocks, most modern cloud deployments don’t suffer from a lack of hardware resource availability but rather are compromised due to poor software architecture and design. As with in-memory distributed computing, software has to be written specifically to take advantage of the way that cloud systems need to work, otherwise gains in productivity and cost reductions often will fail to materialize.

Another expectation of choosing a cloud deployment over traditional software implementation is that it frees the IT department to focus on core business initiatives rather than implementing and supporting multiple on-site technologies. So a cloud analytics solution should ideally mean fewer administrative headaches.

Cloud-based software must support built-in flexibilities that allow it to work easily with a multitude of popular security tools to avoid exposure of sensitive data.



Meeting the need for speed: Traditional architectures aren’t designed to deliver rapid analytics insights resulting in IT swamped with constant requests for ad hoc analyses and one-off reports.


Addressing data quality: The value of data for decision-making will be risked if data is not accurate or timely with Hadoop colliding with traditional data sources like Oracle / Microsoft SQL Server.


Cross-department collaboration: The brinksmanship between IT and LOBs create a challenge as analytics appears to be used primarily as a tactical tool, rather than for strategic decision-making.


Lack of Talent Pipeline: Not every organization has mixture of resources and capabilities to make the most of their data as there is lack of analytics talent to help plan and execute the projects.


From an availability perspective, it is no longer acceptable to shut down a server in order to replace or upgrade it. Ideally, redundancies need to be built into the software so that duplication of control and processing exists, making maintenance easier. Transparency around the total cost of ownership (TCO) allows potential cloud users to know if their use of the technology is actually cheaper than using the software on a network or on a server. The good news is that SAS has a vision for the future that will meet and exceed all of these requirements

What are the key benefits of SAS analytics suite for modern organizations in India?

SAS delivers proven solutions that drive innovation and improve performance. We have 40 years of analytics expertise behind us and as the leader in business analytics software and services, we are able to transform data into insights that give an organization a fresh perspective on its business.  Innovation is something we pride ourselves on – hence our R&D spend is 26% of our revenues which in turn helps us remain ahead of the curve.

Analytics has delivered on its promises and this has driven the uptake for it across industries. It has rapidly become a competitive differentiator and as enterprises are driving measurable business impact, analytical strategies are now being discussed at an executive level to out-think and out-do the competition.