SAS opens South African hosting centre
SAS South Africa, the leading business analytics software and services provider, is offering its clients greater control over their data through its newly-opened local hosting centre.
Until now, South African clients either hosted their solutions in the US, or were required to purchase, install and manage the software themselves, along with the hardware required to do so.
Clinton Myburgh, Delivery Manager for Integrated Marketing Management at SAS Southern Africa, said this was costly, not only in terms of capital expenditure, but also because clients would have to hire and train staff members and acquire special resources to manage the systems in-house.
With the opening of the Johannesburg centre, SAS assumes responsibility for the management and maintenance of the systems and software, ensuring higher uptime rates and data security.
Clients have virtual access to their services via SAS Solutions OnDemand, from anywhere, at any time.
Among the biggest benefits to clients moving to, or signing up for, SAS Solutions OnDemand through the South African hosting centre is compliance with the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, which dictates how businesses may collect, use, store and discard the personal information of their clients, staff and partners.
Myburgh saidL “SAS Solutions OnDemand has established a track record of providing organisations with state-of-the-art outsourced applications and the subject matter experts to manage them.
“It removes internal blockages caused by a lack of adequate infrastructure and specialist skills, leaving clients to focus on what matters most – their business.”
Any data stored in the local hosting centre is guaranteed POPI compliance. Further, data remains within the country’s borders, so companies do not have the added concern of complying with other countries’ data laws.
This will be welcome news to chief marketing officers (CMOs), who, through the power of analytics, are gathering more data about their clients.
This data is used to tailor marketing communications to individual customer preferences through services such as geolocation tagging.
Ensuring this information does not end up in the wrong hands is a primary concern of the marketing department.
In fact, according to Gartner, marketing is so inextricably linked to technology that by 2017, CMOs are projected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than chief information officers (CIOs) – and they’ll need a secure place to store that data.
When choosing SAS Solutions OnDemand, there is no capex outlay to purchase hardware, which requires constant maintenance and upgrading.
Rather, it can be funded through an opex model. SAS absorbs the hardware costs and, because it buys hardware in large quantities, is able to pass the cost saving on to clients, said Myburgh.
SAS will also maintain the hosting environment and will train specialist staff members to manage it. The service is scalable, with the ability to add and remove solutions as needed.
Existing SAS South Africa clients, who are already using the US hosting centre, will have the option to port their data to the local site.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”