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SAS to look at M&A opportunities with Indian start-ups

American software developer SAS could be looking at M&A opportunities within the Indian start-up ecosystem according to Bryan Harris, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at SAS. Speaking to businessline at the sidelines of their annual flagship event, SAS Innovate 2023, Harris indicated that the company will be looking at these opportunities in the next three years, in the manufacturing, health care, and supply chain side. 

At its Innovate conference, which happened in Orlando, Florida last week, the analytics giant announced an additional $1 billion investment into AI research over the next three years. According to top executives, it is going to direct some of this investment into India as well.

SAS already has 500-600 employees for research and development in its center in Pune, and is set to bolster these ranks further. Harris observed that SAS has already increased headcount by 50 per cent in the last two years. Harris emphasised that he envisions SAS’s Indian R&D teams to be developing solutions for local markets, rather than taking up projects outsourced from the American market. 

Also read: AI threatens humanity’s future, 61% of Americans say: Reuters/Ipsos

According to Harris, SAS’s Pune center is not just for research capabilities, “it is a multifunctional center,” which also houses SAS’s tech support team as well.

Key market

Harris noted that SAS’s presence in India is of strategic importance, opening the eastern and the Middle Eastern markets for the company as well. Currently, the Americas contribute a majority of its revenues, although the Asia Pacific market, especially India, is emerging to be one of the fastest growing markets.

Harris also envisions future growth opportunities of business in the Indian market as well, eyeing pharmaceutical manufacturing in particular, further envisioning India’s 5G deployment to also bode well for its business interests in India.

Finding opportunities

Strategic acquisition of Indian start-ups is also on the cards, Harris explained SAS’s acquisition play in general, “SAS really likes to make small and significant acquisitions. Historically, we have not gone after $2 billion or even $100 billion dollar deals,” Harris explained. He added that the company could look into acquiring certain technologies that fill a gap in the capabilities of the analytics giant, to that effect, Indian start-ups could be of importance. 

Also read: AWS upbeat on India market, to launch local zones in Chennai and Bengaluru 

Harris further noted that a lot of work around detection of financial fraud happens from its multi-capability center in Pune.

Co-founder & CEO James Goodnight said, “Businesses face many challenges, from the threat of economic recession and stressed supply chains to workforce shortages and regulatory changes. SAS Viya brings analytics and AI to everyone, everywhere, letting users of all skill levels get the answers they need in any language on their terms and faster than ever before,” he said, adding, “With insights from industry-focused analytics, resilient organisations can find opportunity in these challenges.”

(The writer was recently in Orlando at the invitation of SAS)

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