SAS starts hiring across Canada

Computerworld Canada – SAS Canada is adding roughly 20 new positions, mostly in sales, to offices across the country. Approximately one third of the positions are based out of the company's headquarters in Toronto. Opportunities are also available in Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and the Maritimes.

The competition for these positions will likely remain high, as SAS Canada continues to position itself as one of the most coveted employers in the country. The company landed on "Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2010" list released annually by Maclean's Magazine and Mediacorp Canada Inc. and has been nominated for the No. 1 position for the last eight years in a row.

"We have on average about 2,500 visitors per month to our careers page, so a lot of folks are trying to get into SAS," said Mario Ianniciello, vice-president of sales at SAS Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of SAS Institute Inc. There were no layoffs at SAS Canada throughout 2009 and the company maintains a four per cent turnover rate.

Ianniciello attributes the low turnover to good compensation, benefits, culture and additional perks. "We have a long tenure as well, even in sales, which is probably the most volatile organization for business within any organization. Even within our sales team, it is very flat as far as turnover and termination," he said.

The hiring boom, which represents a seven percent increase in SAS Canada's current base of 254 employees, is a response to the company's continually growing success in the analytics market.

According to a recent press release stating its market growth results, SAS has maintained growth and profitability for the last 34 consecutive years. This includes a 13 per cent increase in 2009 software revenue over the previous year for SAS Canada and a global revenue increase of US$2.31 billion in 2009, up 2.2 per cent over 2008 results.

While the hiring announcement is good news for SAS, the new positions don't reflect a real uplift in overall IT hiring in Canada, according Andy Woyzbun, lead analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Ltd. Enterprises are still very tight with their dollars, he noted. "I think this is kind of a blip," he said.

SAS increasing its employee base does, however, does reflect the growth of the business analytics market in Canada, according to Woyzbun. Organizations that have perhaps neglected their analytics up to now are starting to recognize its significance and analytics firms are doing well as a result, he said.

As the economy has deteriorated, large organizations realize that they need to base their decisions on as much information as possible in order to make the right kind of decisions, said Woyzbun. "In a bad market, especially in terms of cost constraints and harsh competition from markets and so on, analytics are absolutely valuable," he said.

SAS's success in particular is likely due to their industry-specific and task-specific products, according to Wozybun. Their products tend to be much more focused on specific cases and their tools are less generic, so they offer more immediate value to companies that aren't familiar with modeling or analysis, he said.

The growth of the business analytics market may signal increased opportunities for Canadian business intelligence analysts further down the road.

IT recruitment firm Robert Half Technology is expecting an increase in demand for business intelligence analysts as companies look to gain any competitive advantage they can by analyzing their internal and external data, said Igor Abramovitch, director of technology services for Robert Half Technology in Toronto, owned by Robert Half International Co.

"We definitely are seeing more business intelligence projects coming up in terms of new software coming in and new reporting software coming in to make sure that companies can realize what is happening with the business in terms of analyzing the data," said Abramovitch.

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur.

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