Risk is one of the largest challenges that any company has to face, and being able to reduce risk as much as possible is one of the most critical actions a company must undertake.
In order for a finance provider like Connect Financial Solutions (CFS), a division of Pepkor, to reduce risk, they need to make use of efficient, in-depth and insightful credit management processes. CFS has opted to purchase and adopt the SAS Real-Time Decision Manager (RTDM) to implement advanced analytics to stimulate its credit management capabilities to ensure that customers are able to pay for products delivered or services rendered.
CFS has a long history with SAS as many of its credit analysts already have some SAS knowledge and the company had already been using SAS solutions to fix several problems on a temporary basis. The trust built between CFS and SAS led the company to look to the analytics leader for a solution that could implement more robust and comprehensive fixes.
“We encountered challenges around the ability to implement advanced analytics and while conducting research on SAS, were introduced to SAS RTDM which we found provided solutions to all the problems we had,” says Eugene Ehlers, CFS Credit Executive. “In short, using an evaluation matrix we discovered that what we needed, SAS RTDM provided.”
The entire journey, from CFS’s first probing into whether SAS RTDM was the right fit for the organization to getting the contract signed took 15 months to complete, comprised of several different phases, including the verification, contractual and upfront phases. All of which served to determine SAS’s capability to deliver on what was promised and influence CFS, internally, to sign off on the deployment of SAS RTDM.
When asked what the deciding factor was that pushed the business to choose SAS as a solution, Ehlers said: “Internally, we had a big victory in one session where our CEO had asked how quickly we could integrate SAS RTDM into our database, and he was told that we could do it within minutes and a demonstration of this was performed right in front of him. Another swaying factor was the practical demonstration of how our website talks to RTDM, which created a big wow internally.”
He added that the value of RTDM was in its agility and flexibility and the fact that his team could implement the changes without having to look for people with rare skills to be able to carry out commands in the software.
“We’re a small company in the Pepkor group. Our IT department, who prescribes what needs to happen, sits within the larger group, so there had to be a massive culture shift in the company in order to consider SAS RTDM in the first place, which took quite a while” remarks Ehlers. “We spent 2 to 3 months doing reference calls, visiting people and hearing their views on the RTDM solution.”
Ehlers noted that an invitation to the global SAS Analytics Experience event in 2018 had played an enormous role in converting the minds of decision makers within the group to become more SAS-inclined.
One of the breakthroughs had by Ehlers was when hearing Shop Direct’s presentation at the Analytics Experience which showed the successful use of SAS to solve the same challenges that CFS was currently seeking to solve.
Looking to the future
CFS’s expectations of RTDM, once it goes live, includes its ease of integration, user-friendliness – the ability to make changes without added help easily, and expansion. Ehlers observed that RTDM was more than just a credit engine and its biggest benefit was its potential.
“You shouldn’t see it as a marketing tool or a risk tool. I call it SAS’s brain, anywhere you need to make a decision you can actually use RTDM and that’s what I mean by potential, that’s what I’m trying to build.”
With its versatility, CFS is also looking to possibly use SAS RTDM, in future, to take the company from where they are (product-oriented) to where they want to be (customer-oriented).
“We’re bringing RTDM in for one product, but I think the real value lies in using it to move the whole organisation to being a real online player, by using this one product use of RTDM to demonstrate to the company its success,” adds Ehlers. “Analytics is everywhere, to recognise the customer is analytics, so voice recognition, facial recognition, biometrics, that’s all decisioning.”
CFS has envisioned using SAS RTDM in the analysis of the transactional interaction with the customer in order to grade this interaction – which could determine what level the company should interact with a customer (based on their grading). This would allow CFS to determine how much time and money to invest in an account through a real-time customer score, based on profitability.
Ehlers noted that increased use of advanced analytics would allow CFS to pursue automation of processes as well as the streamlining of those processes.
"The SAS Platform helps you get maximum value from your data and analytical assets by addressing all aspects of analytics life cycle, from data to discovery to deployment. By combining the power of the SAS Platform with open source technologies, you can unify disparate toolsets and analytics assets into a streamlined, governed and collaborative environment that improves productivity, fosters business agility and delivers tangible resultts," he concluded.