No more tech for tech

A dramatic change in the Canadian economy means that businesses can no longer afford to invest in technology for technology’s sake, according to the new Canadian general manager of a business intelligence software vendor SAS Institute Canada Inc.

“Today’s business climate is slower, to say the least,” said Carl Farrell, during a brief overview of the company’s plans in Canada held in Toronto Tuesday morning.

With the slower climate, Farrell said businesses are rethinking their spending and cutting out anything that doesn’t show a definite return on investment within a shorter period of time. He identified SAS’s new focus on business intelligence and broke it down into categories, including supplier, organizational, customer and enterprise intelligence.

“A lot of players provide basic reporting” added Jeff Green, vice-president of alliances and solutions at SAS Canada. “We provide the ability to model the information and provide forward-looking information. Most companies are looking at payback within a year as a benchmark now.”

Alister Sutherland, director of software with analyst group IDC Canada, said he’s not sure companies ever invest in technology without a certainty that it would help them in some way.

“I would agree that businesses want to see a return on investment, whether that is a straight-line ROI or improved profitability,” Sutherland said from his Toronto office. “SAS wants to try to differentiate themselves with their deep expertise and quantitative analysis and their ability to drill down and present information in useable ways. They are good at that, especially since a lot of what is called analytics in the industry is just systematic reporting.”

Farrell said SAS is going after several verticals where the company has a strong customer-base already, but also wants to grow in some new areas, especially in Canada where the focus is “more of a solution orientation than a tools orientation to the customers. They want more drive and return on investment (ROI).”

“There is a whole spectrum of different problems here,” Farrell said. “Some are caused by a change in legislation, but everyone is coming in with a different type of problem that affects their bottom line and their ability to grow. It is significantly different now because everyone is being careful with every dollar they spend, quite wisely. Technology is just a vehicle.”

The SAS executive also announced IntelliVisor for Pharma, an application service provider (ASP) solution designed to help pharmaceutical companies analyze direct-to-consumer advertising. The ASP solution follows last year’s introduction of IntelliVisor for Retail.

“SAS has identified some key target markets that they plan to develop intensely,” Sutherland said. “I know they are focusing in on financial services and risk management for financial services companies. In my view, they certainly have the ability to exploit that market effectively.”

SAS Canada in Toronto is at

IDC Canada in Toronto is at

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