Rosanda Milatović Skorić, General Manager of SAS Adriatic: SAS is a Precursor to and a Leader in Modern AI

The power of SAS lies in our global presence, which means if the customer in Serbia was facing the same issues as the customer in Latvia, we could pull the resources and knowledge and help our customer in Serbia much faster

It all started 40 years ago at North Carolina University. The technology created to improve crop yields evolved into sophisticated data analytics software. Now, it covers all industries where analytic can be applied – from governments and financial services to tourism, manufacturing, health.

Rosanda Milatović Skorić, General Manager of SAS Adriatic

How much of SAS’s services are used in Serbia and where should analytics be applied, so that life would be better and jobs more successful? 

SAS has officially opened its office in Serbia in 2007, but it has been present for much longer, cooperating with the public institutions for decades before. Today, our customers are the biggest financial institutions, telco companies but we are expanding our cooperation in the public sector and the growing industries such as retail.

Analytics can be applied anywhere where is a significant pool of good data. It can help companies streamline their activities across the organization, allowing for greater efficiency, better products, and better offers for its clients. In the banking example, it can mean a relevant, personalized offer – at the right time for the customer. What we usually see these days are generic offers targeted to a wide pull of bank customers based only on data from the bank where the customer has an account. But this is a fragmented view of the customer. I can have three bank accounts, for example, with one account serving only for online transactions, keeping relatively small amounts of money on that particular account. The offers I receive from that bank are irrelevant for me, I’m offered credit that I don’t need, which causes the bank to waste money and time. With proper analytics, by using for example Open Bank Data among other parameters of interest, banks can achieve a holistic approach to the customer and offer meaningful products.

What is AI and how it differs from analytics? 

Analytics, in the traditional sense, is analyzing vast amounts of data providing patterns, finding relationships between variables, and giving the probabilities that certain event will happen, but it doesn’t provide final conclusions; humans are still responsible for that. The analysis relies on past events, and itis not capable to adapt easily to the changes. The recent pandemic is proof – companies using traditional analytics were not fast enough, as historical data became completely irrelevant for decisioning.

AI has evolved in a way that mimics the way the human brain operates. With Machine Learning or Deep Learning focusing on delivering predictions, it becomes a powerful tool for business. It helps identify what’s working and where adjustments are needed. It simply provides stronger ground for company leadership to make more intelligent decisions.

Has the crisis caused by the corona contributed to making the data analytics industry even more necessary in everyday work?

With one year into the pandemic, we can state with absolute certainty that the pandemic accelerated digitalization to the extent we could not imagine before. Two-year plans were executed in a matter of months. And it made analytics indispensable for organizations.

But, it did not all go smooth for companies using predictive models. As I mentioned, data used in the past, became obsolete. How can you assess the credit risk for the client who is working in an industry hard hit by the pandemic? Completely new models had to be produced, and we worked hand in hand with our customers to help them overcome the initial hit and enable them to thrive in the future.

“The team from Niš is now working with the Global team on cutting-edge technology solutions for Cloud”

The power of SAS lies in our global presence. We formed the Incident Command System Team with the mandate to provide and share best practices across the SAS ecosystem. This means if the customer in Serbia was facing the same issues as the customer in Latvia, we could pull the resources and knowledge and help our customer in Serbia much faster. Of course, we are aware that each country has very specific needs and regulations, that is why we rely on our local professional services delivery teams who are in close contact with customers, to find the solution which is the best fit.

What are the further plans for the expansion of SAS into the region and in Serbia?

Throughout history, Serbia has been perceived as a hub, due to its geostrategic position. It is also true in business. We see investments that are coming, and we are interested in leveraging our experience to continue the country’s digitalization agenda.

Even more important is our commitment to building a stronger data science community in Serbia. In January, we acquired Boemska – a small, UK-based technology company with an R&D center in Niš. The company is a well-established SAS technology partner whose global customers include SAS customers in financial services, health care, and travel. The team from Niš is now working with the Global team on cutting-edge technology solutions for Cloud, which will enable customers to have less robust infrastructure, more agility, and flexibility.

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