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SAS Institute to expand market presence in China

By ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-20 14:09
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Participants exchange views at a technology event organized by SAS Institute Inc in Las Vegas, the United States, in late April. [Photo/China Daily]

Solutions for service-related biz and pharma industry likely to be in focus

SAS Institute Inc, a US-based multinational developer of analytics and artificial intelligence software, will increase investments in strategic and emerging areas like generative AI and solutions for service-related businesses to maintain robust growth in China, said its senior executives.

Generative AI is a form of AI capable of producing diverse data types, including images, video, audio, text and 3D models. It achieves this by analyzing existing data patterns and leveraging this understanding to create fresh and distinct outputs.

Having operated in China for more than two decades, the Cary, North Carolina-based company said it fits in well with the country's digital-related development strategies and industrial upgrade, and is seeing more opportunities from them.

After seeing a 6.3 percent year-on-year growth in the Chinese market last year, the company is certain that many opportunities will be unleashed by the country's fast-growing banking, insurance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and energy sectors, said Jim Goodnight, SAS CEO.

"More broadly, the financial industry looms large, particularly in terms of risk management, spanning both banking and insurance sectors. Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry holds significant importance, as nearly every pharmaceutical company must analyze its data," said Goodnight.

In late 2023, SAS revealed its plan to invest $1 billion over the next three years in advancing analytics solutions tailored to the distinct requirements of various industries.

"A portion of this investment will enable us to offer Chinese clients tailored solutions, enhancing the precision and efficiency of their decision-making processes," said Wilson Ho, vice-president and managing director for SAS' China operations.

SAS will continue to strengthen its long-standing commitment to offering customized solutions for industry-specific challenges across various sectors. This dedication to industries, coupled with the swift time-to-value these solutions provide, stands as a distinct advantage for the group, said Jennifer Chase, SAS' chief marketing officer.

She said a growing number of Chinese companies are keen to make critical use of data, industrial links and green development.

Similar views are shared by John Carey, vice-president for SAS' worldwide alliances and channels operations.

"China has consistently been a channel-focused market for us. The bulk of our transactions have typically been conducted with partners. What made this easier was the preexisting DNA and muscle memory established in other areas.

"However, we have had to build that from scratch. We have recognized the value of distribution, but the challenge lies in enabling partners swiftly and efficiently. This involves providing localized training to assist partners in quickly catching up with the latest developments."

With new and improved capabilities, including generative AI and data management, SAS saw its sales revenue rise to more than $3 billion last year, according to its 2023 annual report.

To remain competitive, SAS said it will continue to make strategic, innovative advancements to its products, including its cloud-agnostic data and AI platform, as well as solutions designed to meet the needs of specific industries and cross-industry functional areas like fraud intelligence, risk management and marketing.

Supported by more than 12,000 employees and engineers globally, the US company runs a number of offices, innovation and technical centers in Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

In addition to strengthening automakers and big manufacturers, AI will play a crucial role in empowering small and medium-sized enterprises, startups and media companies, to minimize their marketing and customer acquisition expenses, amplify brand communication efficiency and revolutionize the entire marketing industry through digital technology, said Sun Fuquan, former vice-president of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development.

China's investment in AI is forecast to reach $38.1 billion by 2027, accounting for 9 percent of the world's total, according to a report released by global market research firm International Data Corporation last year.

The IDC report said the AI technology, under government support and accelerating industrial upgrade, will integrate with demands from various industries, and be part of products, services and business modes in the coming years.

The investment in AI software this year is expected to reach nearly $10 billion, accounting for about 25 percent of China's total AI market investment, up nearly 6 percentage points from 2023.

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