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Cezar Cursaru's Interview

  RO Traducere in romana
02 Decembrie 2009

Cezar Cursaru, country manager SAS Institute România:

Local Business Analytics market immaturity is a challenge and a promise!

The global financial crisis has dramatically reduced IT budgets, regardless of the size of the companies. But passivity is not a feasible business option in a dynamic competitive environment. That is, in an economic context in which most vendors of IT solutions recorded significant decreases in turnover, SAS Institute Romania managed to maintain a positive development. Caesar Cursaru, Country Manager SAS Institute Romania, presented to us the argument of this healthy growth: "We want SAS to be the first company to think that when the customers have to solve a business problem".

Has the Romanian market reached the critical mass in order to begin to have a real interest and, above all, a consistent application in the Business Analytics solutions area?
- Surely that the Business Analytics solutions type market in Romania is still an immature market, which means for SAS both a challenge and a promise. However, we have seen in a very direct way that the big players in the banking industry have begun not only to show an increasing interest in the Business Analytics solutions, but have begun to invest in this direction, even if, in the recent past , they were highly reluctant in adopting this kind of solution. Also, big players in the telecommunications industry, which had adopted much earlier Business Analytics solutions, show a renewed and re-potentate interest for this kind of solution. We can not talk, of course, on a consistent demand at this time, but even if the demand is not so high in the net figure, the annual increases are more than attractive, well above the average growth in Europe, for example.

Do you consider that in the current economic context - the crisis generating a substantial reduction in IT budgets, even in the large companies - Business Analytics solutions can be a viable solution to business efficiency and cost reduction?
- Indeed, with few exceptions, the current economic climate has generated a substantial reduction in IT budgets of the large companies in Romania. Equally, however, the economic crisis has become a strong incentive for large companies to work towards reducing costs, losses or to stop "bleeding revenue”. For instance, for the banks became extremely important to realize, as early as possible, which of the assets acquired with such sympathy in the period of the economic growth before October 2008 are likely to the risk of non-reimbursement, so that it can act before that the risks to be effectively realized through a targeted effort to collect / retrieve. Similarly, for the telecom operators has become extremely important to stop the ”bleeding revenue "generated by the profitable customers leaving the network. As such, the identification of customers who show propensity to leave the network, together with the analysis of profitability and of the overall value brought by the customers throughout their entire life cycle, become crucial information before, of course, the burden of employment through the specific methods of marketing campaigns.

Which vertical do you address, especially with this type of solution?
- Since the SAS generates over 40% of the worldwide revenue in the financial services industry, this industry is addressed traditionally, and also by SAS in Romania. The Romanian market has s specificity for SAS apart from the rest of the world. For example, although SAS generates only 7% of worldwide turnover achieved in telecom industry, in Romania, SAS is extremely active in the telecom operators area, area which is generating an income at least equivalent to that obtained from the banking industry. This fact is justified by the local telecom industry which has benefited from a huge market success, and telecom companies in Romania are very strong companies.

We should also not forget the fact that Romania is an oil and gas producing country and the largest company in Romania is working in this sector. Even though SAS generates only 3% of the global figure obtained from the Energy and Utilities vertical (which includes oil and gas industry), in Romania the SAS revenue from oil and gas industry is at least 25% of the total revenue. Of course, for the future, we aim to open a broad public sector activities. Also, we wish to increase our presence in the currently targeted verticals and to develop new verticals such as the retail industry.

Does SAS offer include "best practices" adapted and located vertically in line with the specifics and requirements of the Romanian market?
- SAS has an extremely well positioned offer for the verticals mentioned above, conceptualizing and encompassing - in its software solutions and methodologies for projects delivering - industry best practices as they were seen by the company over 30 years of activity. Added to this is the competitive advantage represented by the fact that SAS already had the opportunity and privilege to apply best industry practices in the various projects developed in Romania. Although the general themes of the projects were basically the same as in the rest of the world, each project developed proved to be a special uniqueness, with a high degree of national cultural and organizational specificity. SAS vision is to be the first company to think that when customers have to solve a business problem.

As such, although possessing an impressive portfolio of software technologies, horizontal and vertical solutions, SAS does not hurry never to put them on the customer's table, at least not before asking him what "it hurts". In this regard, we are rather comparable with a company that provides consulting services for business management. Certainly we are not just a software company, as yet perceived, especially by the competition. For SAS, software is not an end in itself but a mean to solve a business problem reported by the client, the consultancy services playing a crucial role in both the diagnosis phase and the implementation phase.

Because you mentioned the consultancy, how important is it in the SAS approach in a project?
As a matter of fact, in any project, SAS Institute always is based on three main "pillars", to tell them so. The first is the domain expertise, acquired in previous projects and concentrated mostly in the SAS Global Practices, spread in the support centers, strategically located throughout the world.

The second "pillar" is the advisory services, usually delivered by a team of local and international consultants. SAS does not ever experiments ont the expense of the customer, as such, to ensure the success of each project, SAS always use local and / or international resources, which have passed at least once before by a similar project. I want to say here that, in this respect, we noticed a growing trend in the market - that large companies have begun to abandon the cheap projects, opting for the qualified consulting services, able to provide a warranty for the success of the project.

Returning to the third element, this is the software solutions, horizontal and vertical solutions provided by SAS, which includes not only outstanding software technologies, but also the best functional and industry practices, which makes the difference in a unique way to all the other offers available in the market. As such, SAS implementations are very fast. For example, a standard implementation of an application for running marketing campaigns can be done in only 8-10 weeks.

An implementation of a complete system of Analytic CRM type (which includes demographic segmentation, behavior and attitudes segmentation, to determine customer propensity to buy additional products and / or more expensive, to identify customers who tend to abandon the products / services etc.). can be achieved in 3-6 months. And the complete implementation of a vertical industry solution, designed to cover different functional areas (eg Finance, Risk, Marketing, etc..) can be done in 9-12 months.

All these are possible because of sustained efforts made by SAS to conceptualize and integrate the best functional and industry practices, both in its software solutions and methodologies to deliver the associated services.

Is there a specific local Romanian market?
- The local customers are no different from global customers. They all want the quick resolution of their business problems and the rate of return on investment as big as possible. SAS is extremely well positioned to provide these benefits to its customers. For example, in the case of the SAS projects, a typical rate of return on investment is between 300% and 500%, but in some projects it reached values of 1000% and was never less than 100%.

"Local market for Business Analytics is still an immature market, which means for SAS both a challenge and a promise."

"The economic crisis has become a strong incentive for the large companies to work towards reducing costs, losses or to stop" bleeding income."

"For SAS, software are not an end in itself but a means to solve business problems reported by the client, consultancy services playing a crucial role in both the diagnosis phase and implementation phase."

Cezar Cursaru,
Country Manager
SAS Institute România

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