Guide on selecting a partner for SAS Content Categorization
SAS and The SAS Institute
SAS is a statistical software that has the ability to mine data from a variety of sources and perform statistical analysis on it. Over time, its capability has kept expanding with the addition of advanced analytics techniques to its capability set, and a point-and-click interface for non-technical users.
The company that owns the software is called The SAS Institute and is a private company which traces its origins to 1966, when vast amounts of agricultural data were being collected through USDA grants – but no computerized statistics program existed to analyze the findings.
According to the company’s website, “A consortium of eight universities came together under a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to solve that problem. The resulting program, the Statistical Analysis System, gave SAS both the basis for its name and its corporate beginnings.
North Carolina State University, located in Raleigh, NC, became the leader in the consortium because it had access to a more powerful mainframe computer. NCSU faculty members Jim Goodnight and Jim Barr emerged as project leaders. When NIH discontinued funding in 1972, the consortium agreed to fund the project, allowing NCSU to continue supporting their statistical analysis needs.
Over the next few years, SAS software was licensed by pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and banks, as well as the academic community. Jane Helwig, a Statistics Department employee at NCSU, joined the project as documentation writer, and John Sall, a graduate student and programmer, rounded out the core team. More than 300 people attended the first SAS users conference in 1976. With a growing customer base that already numbered close to 100 academic, government and corporate entities, it was evident that success as an independent operation was possible.
Goodnight, Barr, Helwig and Sall left NCSU and formed SAS Institute Inc., a private company devoted to the maintenance and further development of SAS. The company was incorporated in March 1976, and opened for business July 1. The primary focus, then and now, continues to be on meeting customer needs”.
SAS continues to be a trusted provider for organizations seeking to leverage their data. The software gives clients the power to discover insights from their data and make knowledgeable decisions based on it.
What is SAS content categorization?
It gives you the power to turn unstructured information into business analytics and data that can be applied to solve business challenges, with the aid of categorization and extraction rules that can be specified. Taxonomy development can be jump-started with the addition of taxonomies that are industry-specific, making it simple to define and refine rules. What is more, it is able to identify and extract context-sensitive data.
The challenge with the growing volume of data is that most of it is unstructured. Customer feedback, blogs, articles, comments, social media interactions, etc. are all examples of unstructured information that is available but cannot be readily harnessed.
Filtering this data is one of the challenges many organizations face. SAS provides tools that can help us extract relevant information that can aid business decisions.
Let us take a short example.
Your business has a number of different databases that are generated and built as a result of many different activities. There could be multiple client databases, multiple vendor databases and so on and so forth. So much so that the information that the business has in its possession is likely to be beyond the remit of most conventional methods of analysis.
Using advanced text analysis, SAS content categorization is able to identify relevant pieces of information that are likely to provide inputs into the problem the business is trying to solve, linking them to existing data. This often results in the manifestation of critical pieces of information that get hidden in mundane piles of textual content. In this manner, interlinked information can be extracted that is sensitive to the context of the exercise.
This can often result in simplifying information and making it available to company-wide users in a transparent, clear manner.
Should you outsource SAS content categorization?
While there are many technologies and tools available to the modern world, they need to be deployed in an intelligent manner. If not done effectively, your organization could be on the wrong end of the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) principle. If not done right, even after getting an output you may be no wiser than when you did not have it.
For effective usage, technologies need to be understood, with users being trained and getting hands-on practice. All of it takes time.
There could also be expert users available for your projects. All you need to do is outsource your requirements, including the underlying data, of course with suitable contractual safeguards. How does that sound?
What would be the advantages of taking the decision to outsource?
First and foremost, outsourcing non-core activities leaves the specialist resources in your business to continue to work in jobs that they have knowledge and experience in. They can continue to create value for the business unhindered, instead of being distracted by work that they are neither trained for nor have ever expressed interest in. You may end up with a situation where the core work is being ignored while the non-core work is being done incorrectly and inefficiently.
Engaging a specialist team, on the other hand, that has signed up for the very task and has been trained in it, gives you the benefit of skill as well as motivation.
With specialization and volumes, since a provider has volumes that can be aggregated across multiple clients, comes the ability to invest in technology and process improvement and deliver even greater benefits beyond the aspect of specialization and efficiency. Individual business may neither have the volume nor the inclination, as it is a non-core activity, for these investments.
As a result of specialised workforce, purpose-built technology and processes and control mechanisms honed over an existence of doing similar work, are likely to deliver work of a better quality.
This might be a sign of evolution, but engaging partners for specialized non-core requirements is now an accepted principle of business.
Criteria for Selection of Provider
The decision to outsource being taken, given below are suggestions on what you need to look for while evaluating vendors for a possible partnership.
Prior Experience and Excellence
The vendor should be able to demonstrate prior experience with the nature of services you seek to outsource, as well as excellence in delivery. Their willingness to connect you with their existing clients should be seen as a sign of confidence in their ability.
A note of caution – In some cases vendors who don’t have experience in a line of work but are keen to get it on their profile, will be willing to offer substantial other benefits if selected. Hence, while prior experience is important, it must be viewed as one of the many variables in the equation.
The clients of oWorkers are referenceable and willing to testify to our delivery capability. With over eight years of experience over multiple engagements, oWorkers offers unmatched experience, skill, consistency and variety in its services.
Quality and Accuracy
BPO operators have been instrumental in a prominent role for the Quality Analyst (QA) embedded within the delivery structure, though not a part of it. QAs serve to keep an external check on the quality of delivery and prevent poor quality from reaching the client. They have a reporting line to senior management and serve as their eyes and ears on the shopfloor, enabling intervention when required. Shortlisted vendors should be able to demonstrate a robust QA process in place.
oWorkers offers industry leading QC (Quality Control) and QA (Quality Analysis). They follow a strict regimen of sampling a set of primary transactions performed by agents to ensure they are compliant with guidelines and are delivering the quality and accuracy that oWorkers is known for. The sample size is increased or decreased keeping in mind client requirements as well as performance of individual agents and teams. The QA teams also actively coach delivery teams to drive best practices. oWorkers has consistently delivered over 99% accuracy levels as measured by different clients across different scales and measurement systems.
This parameter often tends to receive outsized attention among the many variables since it is quantifiable and does not leave room for interpretation, doubt or suspicion. This aspect should be watched out for. The effort should not be to get the lowest bidding vendor but the vendor who provides the greatest value to your business.
The location of our centers which are amongst the most favored BPO locations in the world, and access to the local community for drawing resources from, makes oWorkers price competitive for clients from around the world. We often enable clients to save upto 80% of their costs when they outsource SAS content categorization to us, especially from the US and Western Europe, without having to compromise on quality or timing.
Speed of work
This is also referred to as turnaround time or TAT. How fast is the vendor able to complete the assigned work? Since BPO work happens continuously around the world, in some cases, the vendor location can give a natural advantage of overnight delivery of work. Is the vendor willing to sign up to SLAs that offer quick turnaround for delivery?
With centers located in three different regions of the world, supported by a continuously operating machinery that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week, oWorkers provides 24 hour or overnight turnaround on many projects. In fact, a quick turnaround for all work is our preferred model, which enables us to do even more for you.
A growing company needs partners who are able to support their growth, and not become entities that need to be worked around. A multilingual operational capability is one such requirement. It caters to a company’s global footprint as well as future expansion plans. You should not need to go hunting for more partners when you are expanding.
With its diverse workforce, multiplied by three global centers, oWorkers provides support in 22 of the most popular global languages. Most of our clients have not found a business language that we cannot support.
Technology is a great enabler. In a way, it makes business global like never before in history. SAS itself is a technology solution. The BPO business as well rides on a backbone of technology. Technology, then, is a basic hygiene factor now. Of course, it can also be a differentiator.
oWorkers has access to state-of-the-art technologies through its partnerships with technology owners and providers, and offers them for the use of its clients. We are ISO (27001 and 9001) certified. Our staff sign and operate under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Where required, we offer physical segregation of projects of different clients.
The other big enabler is human resources. Work is outsourced to companies who can access resources who are in a position to do the work of a higher quality at a lower price. The ability to hire the right resources, at the right price, and provide them with suitable training to make them ready for the task at hand, is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful provider. SAS content categorization is no different.
oWorkers is a preferred employer in all communities we work with. This provides us the privilege of a steady stream of walk-in talent looking for a job while reducing our expenses in attracting talent. Our independent training team takes over hired talent and makes them ready for the project they are assigned to.
While volumes often are predictable, to a degree, they go through ups and downs periodically. It could be because of a seasonality impact, or based on events like promotional activities. Some spikes are predictable while some are not. Hiring resources for handling peak volumes and keeping them idle the rest of the time is a financial burden most companies would rather not incur.
With its model of working with employed staff, and not contractual or outsourced staff, oWorkers provides flexibility to clients in changing jobs and roles at short notice, as required by a client. With deep involvement in local communities, we remain an employer of choice and can offer the ability to scale up by 100 resources within 48 hours, significant for any region of the world.
Maintaining a healthy bottomline, while engaging in certain kinds of activities, such as SAS content categorization, is the aim of all businesses. If a provider’s financials are stretched, it is likely to lead to operating decisions that are less than suitable, and create challenges in delivery. Hence, choosing a provider with a sound financial situation should be the aim.
Operating as a locally registered company in all three different geographies of the world, oWorkers is intertwined with local lives. It pays local and social taxes on behalf of its staff and complies with all regulatory requirements. With costs carefully managed, the organisation has been a profitable enterprise from the get-go. Operating from the Eurozone, we are necessarily GDPR compliant.
Unless there is commitment from the leadership team to deliver on the contract, challenges can be forecast in a contractual relationship. While there may not be any specific parameters to assess this, the several rounds of interactions that happen between leadership teams of the two entities planning to enter into a B2B relationship, normally provides enough information for both sides to take a view on this aspect.
oWorkers has a hands-on top management team with over 20 years of experience in the business. Despite the development of a competent middle management layer in the company, they stay immersed in delivery, provide direction to the team and often directly interacts with clients
As a pure provider of data entry BPO solutions, with multilingual capability, oWorkers has few peers. That is perhaps the reason why several unicorn marketplaces have chosen to work with us. We have been chosen as one of the three leading providers of data-based BPO services in the world, on more than one occasion.
We have been able to create a path for many deserving youngsters from underprivileged communities to enter the global digital economy. Your partnership with us for SAS content categorization will enable us to do the same for a few more.