SAS, an analytics software and services company, has appointed Desan Naidoo as vice president of the Africa region, effective January 2017.
Naidoo has been managing director of Southern Africa since April 2013 and was most recently regional director for sub-Saharan Africa. He joined SAS in June 2008 as General Manager: Public Sector, and in February 2011 he was promoted to Operations Director. In February 2012, Naidoo moved to the position of Director of Sales Operations and Customer Advocacy, MEA.
The appointment comes amid a restructure of the Middle East and Africa business to meet the unique needs of – and to drive success in – emerging markets. Naidoo will report to Riad Gydien, regional senior vice president, South EMEA.
“There’s a hunger for analytics in Africa but it’s a very different market to South Africa,” says Naidoo. “For starters, a lack of analytics skills is preventing adoption in many African regions, so that will be a focus for us. We need to build an ecosystem of ongoing upskilling and training through partnerships with universities and our customers. But at the same time, organisations are facing business challenges that they need help solving right now, so we’re enabling our channel ecosystem to ensure they have the skills to support our customers. It’s all about finding balance.”
The IDC predicts that worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from nearly $122 billion in 2015 to more than $187 billion in 2019, an increase of more than 50% over the five-year forecast period. Of this, the services-related opportunity will account for more than half of all big data and business analytics revenue, followed by software.
“Everyone is talking about analytics now. As SAS, we have to continually evolve to stay ahead of the pack, which is why we’re evolving to an open platform, focusing on cloud and managed services offerings in this vast region. At the same time, we know that we can’t be everything to everyone. Africa is a rapidly changing market, albeit one that is still about three years behind South Africa on analytics adoption,” says Naidoo. “I like to think of our strategy as being similar to the way in which a cheetah hunts. Even though it’s the fastest land animal, it can only sprint for a short space of time before it gets tired. So it focuses on its prey, gives it everything it’s got, and is not distracted from its mission. Our strategy in Africa will be similar. We can’t go after everything that moves. We know what we’re good at, we know what the market requirements are, so we’re identifying our target customers and focusing our attention on making a difference in their business.”
Naidoo will be responsible for business development and growth in four regions: South African and Nigeria as standalone markets, East Africa and SADC countries (excluding South Africa) as a standalone market, and French-speaking Africa.
“Each market has a different strategy and how we go about that will be informed by the lessons we learn doing business in Africa. It’s an exciting time for SAS; there’s massive opportunity in Africa and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
SAS has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, in Lagos, Nigeria, and in Casablanca, Morocco, as well as a presence in Kenya.