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Published: November 14th, 2018

SAS Canada’s channel efforts are ahead of the software firm’s global growth and more opportunities await partners that can either help it reach the mid-market or provide analytics services to clients in niche areas, according to Pat Finerty, vice-president of alliances and channels at SAS Canada and Latin America.

The current iteration of the partner program run by SAS Institute worldwide had set a goal to see five to 10 per cent of new business coming through the channel by this time, he says. But worldwide, and especially in Canada, that goal has been exceeded with 20 per cent of new business now coming through the channel. The revenue from partners is also expected to grow by 50 per cent in the next year worldwide, though Finerty says he wasn’t sure if that’d necessarily be true for Canada as well.

The Cary, N.C.-based private software company has long been associated with providing enterprise-grade analytics software. About 10 years ago, its products were labeled as business intelligence. Recently, with the emergence of business interest in artificial intelligence (AI), its enjoying a market that’s playing to some of its strengths. One product director estimates that the firm may have the largest number of PhDs focused on predictive analytics than any other company in the world. There’s no way to easily fact check that, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if true.

There are two areas of focus for SAS with partners. One is on traditional resellers that can help it target the mid-market, as its direct sales tend to deal with larger enterprise clients.

SAS also wants local resellers to help it reach regional marketplaces. Finerty points to one example in Quebec, NoviPro, which hired three grad students with AI expertise to help it build on top of the SAS products to customize solutions for clients.

Finerty expects to do another recruiting round in this category in another six to 12 months, with the focus currently on scaling up with existing partners. Reseller program incentives include marketing development funds (MDF), enablement support, and access to technical staff. Also, resellers are able to retain the margins on client renewals. Since SAS typically retains customers for a long time, that can become quite lucrative, Finerty says.

SAS Canada is actively recruiting for another category of partner it calls managed analytics service providers. These partners are able to help enterprise clients drive value with SAS Viya platform.

“Instead of trying to build niche products for microsegments, we’re allowing our platform to be used to do that,” Finerty says. These partners include larger systems integrators such as Deloitte, EY, Accenture, and KPMG.

For incentives in this area, Finerty says that SAS can adapt to work in the model established by the managed service provider.

“Some might be selling data by the drip, some might be selling by users per terminal, whatever it is we’re able to adapt to that metric,” he says. “Flexibility is the watch word for this program.”

SAS wants to partner with service providers that already have a base of clients and want to increase revenue through AI and advanced analytics services.