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By John Farrelly

In today’s information economy, the ability to engage and develop meaningful digital relationships is fundamental to any business.A growing number of organisations, including small to medium sized enterprises, are investing in easy-to-use analytical software and services to extract insights from data about their business. As a result, we are now experiencing the ‘democratisation of analytics’.

This movement is rapidly gaining momentum in Ireland, and if realised, could deliver a significant boost to the Irish economy. Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)has shown that big data analytics adoption could deliver additional revenues of €27 billion to Ireland alone over the five years to 2017. But what we’re starting to see more of is data (not necessarily big data) analytics adoption, as organisations of all sizes realise there is more they could be doing with their data – and ignoring it could put them at a competitive disadvantage.

SAS is keen to serve the needs of companies now looking to exploit their data. This week, we expanded our operations in Ireland with the opening of a new Inside Sales and Customer Contact Centre in Dublin.Through this investment, we will create 150 jobs over three years in the city, and expect to see our workforce in Ireland increase six-fold, equating to an investment of around €40 million.

The centre, while based in Dublin, will support sales of data analytics software into markets across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Collaborating with the IDA

Dublin is a vibrant city with a thriving technology ecosystem.It’s a high growth market for business analytics, and provides an international hub for us to nurture a new breed of data scientists from local regions and abroad. As SAS is the global market leader, this centre will play an important role in maintaining and growing our leadership position in EMEA.

The opening of our Inside Sales and Customer Contact Centre is a culmination of years of hard work. We co-operated closely with Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, the IDA, a non-commercial, semi-state body promoting Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland through a wide range of services. I want to express my thanks to the IDA and its valuable advice in making the delivery of our new centre possible over the past three years.

I also wanted to give special thanks to Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for his support. Speaking at the launch event, he explained how a key part of the government’s Action Plan for Jobs is based on attracting new software and analytics companies into Ireland. The creation of 150 jobs in the SAS centre is a huge boost to this strategy and presents new opportunities for the city.

And I’m delighted we also had the support of Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, who spoke about how this announcement was an example of what he’s hoping to see happening across Ireland’s information economy.

SAS logo

Driving analytics democratisation

Businesses are increasingly aware of the value data analytics provides in helping them make better decisions, whether it is improving operational efficiency, understanding customers, identifying new opportunities or managing risks. Many of these organisations are mid-market companies that have no in-house analytics expertise or any history of using data to shape the organisation.

The new centre will focus on delivering data analytics solutions to mid-market companies across EMEA. Our new centre provides the extra capacity needed to support customers as they embark on this data analytics journey.

What’s driving this ‘democratisation of analytics’ is the fact that technology is now more accessible and more flexible. It can be provided through the cloud or via traditional on-premise solutions. Easy-to-sue data visualisation technology and as-a-service offerings (where know-how is ‘hired in’) mean there is no longer a need for in-house experts. Neither do companies have to make a significant up-front investment – they can begin by getting answers to a single business question, experiment to get proof of value and easily scale up to a full-blown analytical solution.

The information economy will increasingly rely on evidence-based decision-making. Business instinct and ‘gut feel’are not enough to drive competitive advantage, and companies that ignore data – and extracting insights from that data – will get left behind..

We look forward to being part of this drive towards more widespread adoption of analytics in the pursuit of faster and better business decisions.

To find out more about how analytics can work for small and mid-sized organisations, take a look at this short report on ‘Moving Beyond Spreadsheets’.

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