SINGAPORE--The local public sector is a leader among Asian countries in adopting new technology, specifically, advanced analytics, according to SAS executive. However, such skillsets remain scarce in the country.
Bill Lee, managing director of SAS Singapore, told ZDNet Asia that compared to Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, Singapore's public sector is "more forward looking" and "very aggressive" in deploying advanced analytics.
The Singapore Homeland Security, for example, is the software vendor's largest advanced analytics customer here, Lee said, but declined to give details of the deployment.
The Ministry of Manpower is also using advanced analytics, specifically in the detection of employment fraud. The government ministry is planning to further expand the use of advanced analytics this year, added Lee.
Encompassing components such as data mining and statistics, advanced analytics examine past and present data to help forecast future actions that can produce optimal results.
Singapore tops record
Despite the bleak economic climate last year, Lee said his local team managed to set a record low 2.6 percent cancellation rate, beating other SAS offices worldwide. He attributed the success to the setting up of a customer strategy group, which he said allowed SAS Singapore "to get closer to the customers" and help them better utilize the company's products.
"Satisfaction for SAS went through the roof," he said, adding that among the 2.6 percent cancellation rate, none were from local customers and had originated from cancellation from its global offices.
SAS Singapore recently doubled its office space and is looking for new hires. This is part of a US$200 million investment in Asia to expand its operations and headcount, he added.
Despite the high growth, Lee noted that Singapore is challenged by the lack of advanced analytics skills, due in part to its unpopularity, compared to other disciplines, in education institutions.
A student of advanced analytics will have to be literate in mathematics, IT and business communications so even if a student is interested, not many faculties provide this combination in their curriculum, he said.
Furthermore, not many are aware that an advanced analytics specialist can command high pay, he noted.
Another factor lies in the executive boardroom, said Lee. Local boardrooms have yet to understand how to harness advanced analytics to improve their operations, while North American and European organizations are five to eight years ahead, he said.
However, he noted that it would only be a matter of time before Singapore companies realize this and catch up with foreign competition.
Lee said the recent Singapore budget echoed what SAS itself advocates--that to improve the lack of productivity, companies will need to help professionals slowly adopt the necessary know-how and skills.
He added that SAS Singapore already works with the government, industries and tertiary institutions to provide education and training.