Here is What Business Analytics Firm SAS Thinks of Kenya’s Data Protection Regulations

David Cosgrave, SAS Pre-Sales Director - Africa

We caught up with David Cosgrave, who serves as the Pre-Sales Director of SAS in Africa. Mr. David was in a group of other top management members of SAS at the primary launch of their intelligence and business analytics trade in Kenya at Kiambu’s Windsor Golf Club. The staging of the event was done in collaboration with Reddington Value.

What is SAS really about?

SAS is all about business analytics. It has been around for more than 42 years and prides itself as the pioneer of technologies that are used to gain insight business performance and drive business planning. The company was founded in the U.S. and has since expanded its turf to major markets across the globe.

“We are experts in several business domains, including analytics, data management, fraud detection, and risk management, among others. We use customer data to extract insights that help us to predict the future of businesses,” said Mr. Cosgrave.

He mentioned that the company has around 25 executives in the East Africa region who have looked at the region’s businesses in terms of market intelligence.

“We have never had a physical presence in Kenya, but we have always had customers here,” revealed the Director.

Asked about the clients the company has and continues to serve, Cosgrave did not give any specifics but noted that some of their prominent customers include Kenyan banks and mobile operators.

Why is Kenya an interesting market for SAS?

SAS has been in the business analytics business in Africa for 24 years as of this writing. It staged its African headquarters in South Africa in the early 1990s at a time when the state was undergoing major business transformations marked by the growth of banks and telcos.

What the company sees in Kenya, as well as Nigeria and Morocco is a population that is digitizing really fast owing to the number of people who are using digital services and devices. The businesses that power the said services can take advantage of business intelligence and analytics to augment their offerings.

“Analytics has is a huge topic in the business world. For instance, there are very few tools and technologies that can freely be used by businesses for machine learning for you. We also feel that Kenyan organizations are quite mature, which creates a greater opportunity for data analytics,” added Mr. Cosgrave.

What is more, Mr. Cosgrave, who mentioned the gains made from digital transformations (that also happens to be one of the topics that will be addressed at 2018’s version of Connected Kenya in ten days’ time), said he believes analytics is the most fundamental part of that journey.

“By leveraging all of our history in analytics and combining that with new ways of doing business, I believe we can help Kenyan businesses to save money, make more revenue and be more competitive,” he highlighted.

SAS can only offer its services based on the amount of data businesses can give it to make accurate business predictions. What do you think of Kenya’s data protection laws, and have they, directly or otherwise, made your operations challenging or smooth?

The tightening of data protection laws as popularized by the likes of GDPR is nothing new, but Kenya still struggles to explicitly define what abuse of data encompasses. Existing laws are undergoing amendments, and institutions such as TESPOK have always communicated their input in this regard.

Mr. Cosgrave says that he is aware the government is in the process of addressing gray areas.

“Better data protection laws are a huge opportunity for SAS. For instance, GPRP requirements are music to our ears because it means data privacy is being taken seriously,” he added.

According to Cosgrave, a strict data privacy framework tasks businesses to cease being complacent about customer data.

Lastly, Cosgrave notes that existing data protection laws in Kenya have not affected their trade in Kenya, and the company does not get involved in or lobby for data protection amendmendments.