During a brief interaction with BW Business WorldDr Rama Jayanti (Centre Head and Vice President, SAS India R&D) spoke about the importance of India in SAS’s global R&D efforts, how it has handled the fear of recession and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s data analytics space .
How is the SAS global delivery driven by the efforts made from India?
SAS R&D India (SRDI) has been in existence for around 20 years in Pune and we started our center as an R&D oriented office. But today, we also have many other functions under one roof, including product management, customer-facing roles such as professional services, customer advocacy, customer success, and cloud operations as well—it’s that’s our newest offering. Of course, we do our Technical Support and our R&D core including solutions. Outside of our US headquarters, Pune is the largest R&D center.
SAS R&D India focuses on key areas, including Retail Analytics, IoT Analytics, Risk Modeling and Determination, Regulatory Capital Management and Platform Services.
What kind of attraction do you see in India?
Since we are in the analytics space, our customers come from very different areas because we are not necessarily tied to a specific industry. In India, we see the breadth. We have several banks that use our products. The government is also a fairly large customer for us (Also, various state governments). Some of the larger automotive companies as well.
All signs point to a recession in 2023. How does SAS handle this in terms of hiring in India’s R&D division versus the US?
Like most companies, we are keeping a tab on where the markets are moving and where the industry is going. We haven’t completely stopped hiring, but our hiring is not as aggressive as it was last year. So, we’re monitoring it and that’s where we really are. This is true across the board and it’s not India versus the US. Last year, we grew 31 percent in Pune. Our numbers may look different this year. But we are still looking for good talent for some important jobs around the world.
What is the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s data analytics space? How much AI is being implemented in what SAS delivers to its clients?
Traditionally, if you look at analytics, people have looked at trends and look at some basic forecasts. But with so many factors affecting how the trends move, I think the integration of AI/ML into any forecasting model is almost non-negotiable. Most of our forecasting capabilities leverage AI/ML in one form or another, whether you look at our retail, risk solutions, or our core analytics offering.
What do you think of Indian talent in AI and data analytics?
One thing in our favor is the demographics. We have young people and they also have many colleges. Additionally, most colleges today have something focused on AI/ML, data science, and there are also some certification programs and advanced curricula. If you look at all these factors, we are in a position to lead the way in AI/ML and analytics. In fact, I think our CEO in one of his articles called this particular point about India having so much talent and I would agree with him.