Home Business IT Business Intelligence Millennial management no problem for SAS' David Bowie

Millennial management no problem for SAS' David Bowie

David Bowie will be analytics company SAS’ vice-president Australia and New Zealand for a year come January 2018. The year has been characterised by growth and customer success, underpinned by the continued commitment to being a terrific place to work.

SAS — more formally known as SAS Institute — launched on 1 July 1976, making available a suite of analytical software — initially titled “Statistical Analysis System”, hence SAS — to support decision support before "business intelligence" was a thing. SAS arose out of universities, where this writer first experienced it, to modern business, even Victoria Police, seeing revenues soar from $10 million in 1980 to $1.1 billion in 2000. SAS remains a private company, weathering the dot-com bust, and continuing to spend 20-30% of revenue on research and development, way ahead of other business its size.

Bowie has been with SAS since 2002, first as professional services director, then marketing and business solutions director, and next managing director for Australia and New Zealand in April 2012. He was appointed vice-president, Australia and New Zealand, in January 2017, representing the region’s importance to the organisation.

Yet, Bowie states that while SAS’ revenues and research and development commitment are solid achievements, the company’s work culture is a major source of pride. Fortune magazine has recognised SAS as one of the “Best Companies to Work For” since it began making such a list in 1997, the company is used as a case study in Stamford University management seminars, and SAS also served as a model for Google’s much-publicised perk-filled employee-friendly workplace.

Adding to this list, Bowie says, the company has also been recognised by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies for millennials to work. This topic is one of keen interest to Bowie who says: “SAS was paying attention to millennials long before they became a media focus” and has blogged on the topic, with a personal interest in the subject." In fact, Bowie’s experience is SAS has bucked the trend where millennial workers are oft-described as loyalty-free, switching employers as often as they switch their favoured smartphone messaging app.

“That has certainly not been our experience here in Australia,” Bowie says. “For some years now, we’ve run graduate intake programmes, and a very high percentage of millennial-era recruits from those programmes are still with us. The results have been quite impressive. Not only have they tended to stay and grow with us, they’ve also readily absorbed and contributed to our culture.”

What SAS has found true about millennials, Bowie explains, is they are engaged and committed to the social good. This latter aspect manifests itself through SAS’ initiatives like “Data for good” with SAS providing software, resources and expertise to organisations like the Black Dog Institute, joining the fight against suicide and depression.

A further insight Bowie finds, is how millennials mesh their private and working lives, “while some talk of a work-life balance, I prefer to think of ‘work-life integration' where millennials are concerned", he says. "'Balance’ implies hard boundaries and they don’t think that way. It’s often hard to switch off from work when you go home but we’re dealing with a generation that is always connected and doesn’t generally see the need to switch off".

“This is an innovative and entrepreneurial generation that sees no conflict between lifestyle values and work values. Your millennial is the type who can be comfortably sitting at home at night, and with device inevitably at-hand, wants to pursue something work-related and doesn’t think of doing so as being intrusive. They are purpose-driven and expect to be trusted and allowed work-life integration flexibility to deliver outcomes.”

SAS offers its workers — millennial or not — the opportunity to enjoy trusted flexible working, and receives the benefits back in loyalty and quality outcomes, Bowie says, adding “we take pride in consistently being held up as a good employer and I’m happy to say that it doesn’t go unnoticed by our customers."

Meanwhile, SAS Australia recently struck a deal with Multi Channel Network to develop a data platform for them which provides advertisers with a single consumer view of TV viewers across both linear TV and digital platforms.

This data management product is named SIA and aims to unite all MCN’s different media suites with data from agencies and advertisers, providing a foundation for data-driven business models and managing MCN’s programmatic TV and addressable advertising.

SIA commenced earlier this year and will see a range of data products rolled out from 2018.

MCN’s chief data officer Mark Brandon said, “The platform will redefine how integrated media campaigns are developed, delivered and analysed in Australia.

“Agencies and advertisers working with MCN will receive the best of all worlds: The granular, real-time targeting of digital, combined with the premium brand building environment and scale of television, the greatest standards of transparency around where advertising appeared, who that advertising reached, and what business outcome occurred.”

“The adoption of SAS will enable MCN to gain maximum productivity from its numerous and highly diverse data sources, for the benefit of clients,” Bowie said.

Discussing the cloud, Bowie says the SAS Viya platform is also seeing success, offering an open platform built for analytics innovation. SAS Viya is a single cloud-ready environment serving data scientists to business analysts to executives and everyone in between, with robust, highly available, elastically scalable, and secure management and uptime. “It makes powerful analytics available to everyone,” he says.

Just this month, Database Trends and Applications named SAS Viya as a trend-setting innovative and effective product that can aid enterprises in addressing evolving challenges and opportunities within their business. "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail," DBTA says, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, describing the products it has selected in this space.

SAS Viya is part of a larger strategy for the SAS Platform. SAS offers software for the entire analytics life cycle, from data access and preparation, analytical discovery and model building, through to production deployment and ongoing management.

SAS Viya modernises key aspects of the SAS Platform, uniting SAS with open source technologies and aiding SAS in addressing diverse customer needs with increasing scale, growing data volumes, and new use cases, all from a resilient and trusted platform.



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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.