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Analytics giant SAS laid off about 100 employees due, in part, to what the vendor said were ongoing digital transformation efforts, some stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The layoffs came despite billionaire SAS co-founder and CEO Jim Goodnight's proclamation in May 2020 that "We're not going to have any furloughs or layoffs in response to the pandemic."
"Permanent changes to business operations, some directly related to digital transformation of the business that were already in motion before the pandemic, affected several roles within the company," said Shannon Heath, corporate PR manager at SAS.
SAS, founded in 1976 as a private spinoff of a statistics project at North Carolina State University, has close to 14,000 employees worldwide, according to its website. More than 5,500 employees work in the company's headquarters in Cary, N.C.
"SAS is continually assessing business needs and customer preferences," Heath said. "The ways we work, learn, attend events and much more have changed forever."
Most of the company's workforce transitioned to remote work last year, and Heath said the company expects many employees will prefer to continue working from home or working in the office a few days per week.
SAS, the largest independent analytics vendor, is well known for providing generous employee benefits and support, said Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Doug HenschenPrincipal analyst, Constellation Research
Henschen, who has visited the company's multi-building campus in Cary, said he can see where SAS might pare back staffing for housekeeping, dining, AV support and similar service positions.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see further trims as the workforce emphasis on being in Cary shifts and opens up opportunities for remote workers," he said.
"It's apparent that shifts to work-from-home won't be going away anytime soon, even in states with better COVID stats and more lenient employee and customer density policies," he continued.
The economic fallout from the pandemic, as well as the sudden switch to remote work for many organizations, led to waves of layoffs in many industries over the past year.
While some technology vendors saw their stock prices and business rise dramatically, the tech sector has not been immune to layoffs. Prominent vendors such as Dell, Salesforce and DataRobot cut jobs last year, although some tech vendors said their layoffs were unrelated to the pandemic.
The layoffs at SAS are likely hitting service workers whose jobs depend on a physical presence in the office, Henschen said.
SAS cut approximately 100 positions "as a result of our ongoing digital transformation efforts and the reduced need for on-site support services, including housekeeping and in-person event support," Heath said.
SAS appears to be still hiring despite the layoffs. The careers page on the SAS website lists hundreds of open positions around the world.
Goodnight made the no-layoff comment in an interview with Bloomberg published on May 1, 2020.