In an interesting coincidence, I spoke to IT groups from two different companies with two very different visions for how SAS will be used, on the same day. The first IT group was from a small nonprofit organization that wants to use SAS to analyze member data and design campaigns. The second IT group was from a very large financial company that wants to use SAS to monitor financials for fraud and analyze web traffic. The two companies couldn’t be less alike in size, hardware infrastructure, number of SAS users, and portfolio of SAS products and solutions.
What the two IT groups had in common was a refreshing zeal for getting the SAS infrastructure up and running: both groups were in the process of upgrading servers to accommodate the software; both were excited about providing access to a range of data sources; and both were poised and ready to take SAS Administration training and dive into the installation documentation.
Unfortunately, what both IT groups also had in common was a lack of interest in including the SAS users as they developed their plans to build the infrastructure. The conversations reminded me of a group of mechanics getting together to build a brand new piece of machinery without having any idea what it was going to be used for or by whom.
Mechanics: We just built a car!
Driver: You built a car! Great! How do you steer it? How do you start and stop it?
Mechanics: What? You want to be able to steer it? And why would you need to make it start and stop?
I did my best to bring up the SAS users as often as possible in these two conversations, but my efforts were met with the equivalent of “We’ll worry about them later.”
In my experience, the shoe is usually on the other foot. It’s most often the business users that make decisions about the sort of environment they’d like for their SAS implementation, the response time they expect, and the data they want at their disposal. The problem here is inevitably that without including IT in the discussion, the users are disappointed and rarely get the optimum environment they need to do their work. Having the IT organization driving the bus is less common, but the result is the same when the two teams don't work together – frustration and wasted effort.
Let's look at some areas where information from the SAS users can help IT make better decisions.