6 great ideas from SAS users group leaders

The SAS Users Groups Leaders meet-up was scheduled for the last evening of SAS Global Forum 2014, sandwiched between the last of the Tuesday presentations and the Kick-Back Party later that evening. There were a few familiar faces from regional users groups but lots of new ones from local and in-house groups. In fact, the meeting room was nearly standing room only!

SAS coordinators Nancy Moser and Sue Leitch each took the opportunity to reiterate the value and importance of SAS users groups and to remind us that SAS users groups are unique in the software industry. Each SAS user event, like the recording-breaking international conference in Washington, DC, is planned and organized by volunteers. That why meet-ups like those at SAS Global Forum 2014 are especially important as an opportunity for leaders to meet and learn from each other.

The big questions that night were how to find speakers and how to get new users--especially younger users—involved. New in-house and local SAS users groups are popping up daily and the regionals have opened their calls for participation, so I thought this would be a good time to share these tried-and-true ideas from experienced SAS users group leaders.

Many of you who couldn’t attend the meet-up have great ideas too. Please share them in the comment area below!

1. Play games. Use quizzes (with prizes and winners) to make learning more interactive. Curtis Reid of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that younger programmers and analysts often tune out on presentations and lengthy webinars. Instead, he’s devised a form of SAS Olympics where newer users compete on their knowledge of SAS.

2. Go virtual.  Wells Fargo has a large in-house users group whose members are scattered in multiple locations throughout the US. SAS user Mary Katz says that web-based conferencing works well for them, not only for sharing information internally but also for scheduling external speakers from SAS and other sources.

3. Speak the right language. Deb White of SAS suggests switching up your communications tools if you’re having trouble getting a response. Try texting rather than voice or email, create a group Facebook page or try YouTube (depending, of course, on your organization’s social media policies.)

4. Try local schools. Need speakers? Contact your local college or university and find out which professors use SAS in their courses. Offer them an opportunity to help students practice their presentation skills.  SCSUG Board Member Lisa Mendez told us that her organization used this idea very effectively at SCSUG 2013, nabbing nine speakers from universities with an Advanced Analytics program for a day-long Graduate Student Symposium in Analytics.

5. Train potential speakers. SAS enrolls its SAS Global Forum presenters in speaker training where there’s an interest. You may want to consider a similar program for developing presentation skills among your technical staff.  Ask coworkers to share their projects in informal settings but keep the time limit short, and take advantage of speaker-training organizations such as Toastmasters International.

6. Avoid burnout. Many of the seasoned leaders in the room offered this closing piece of advice. Whether it’s running a smaller in-house users group or a yearly regional conference, be sure to involve others. They suggest that you create a planning or governing board and rotate leadership responsibilities among members. Invite new members to the leadership team regularly.  Don’t overlook the Junior Professionals in your region—they’re interested in learning more.

Again, please share your great ideas below.  I hope to see many of you at SAS Global Forum 2015.

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Seeing SAS Administrators in their natural habitat

It was wonderful to see and talk with so many SAS Administrators at SAS Global Forum this year. If you’re like me, you may have finished the conference wondering why it wasn’t possible to be two places at once because there was so much terrific content that it was impossible to see it all.

I haven’t yet figured out how to be two places at once, but I have compiled a list of some of the great SAS Global Forum 2014 papers that are especially relevant for SAS Admins. Based on conversations with many of you and with the questions we received during the SAS Administrators Panel Discussion, I recommend the following list: Read More »

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SAS Global Forum: 3 essential tips for students

Technology and software, much like SAS, makes everything simpler and more accessible. To fully appreciate what a company like SAS embodies and what it has to offer a student, I feel it is essential to attend SAS Global Forum, especially if analytics is something that drives you. Attending a conference this diverse and of this caliber can be a great opportunity to learn and meet others in the same field of study and industry.

Attending as a student can, however, be a bit overwhelming, even though it is a great way to motivate yourself and get your innovative ideas flowing. Based on my experience at SAS Global Forum 2014 in Washington, DC, I wrote this simple guide for students who wish to attend a future SAS Global Forum conference: Read More »

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Home from SAS Global Forum--what next?

You’d think life would be calmer after the high energy of SAS Global Forum. Not so here at SAS! Your feedback is THE most crucial element of the conference for SAS teams, and we’ll be spending the next few weeks digesting it, choosing the best method for implementing it and finally getting your suggestions ready for release.

What will you be doing with all that great conference content now that you’re back in the office?

Post-conference follow-up is just as important as the conference itself, maybe even more so in today’s economy. Your organization saw the value in sending you to SAS Global Forum 2014. In return, what’s the best way to ensure that you and your organization will get the most out of that investment?  I’ve done a little research and pulled together a few tips on what to do now that you're home from SAS Global Forum (or any SAS users conference): Read More »

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Test results show SAS performs admirably with flash storage from Fusion-io®

SAS is constantly evaluating new technologies for internal and customer experiences. Based on requests from many of our customers, SAS R&D engaged with Fusion-io® to do performance testing with Fusion-io® ION™ Accelerator and ioScale™ storage devices. Our testing goals for the testing included: Read More »

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SAS Global Forum 2015—start your journey today

Hello, I’m Dr. Tyler Smith, your SAS Global Forum 2015 conference chair.

SAS Global Forum 2014 ended a few short days ago. What a wonderful conference—a breath-taking venue, record-breaking registration and exciting announcements from SAS for the Academic Community.

SAS Global Forum is the premier worldwide event for SAS professionals. Every year since 1976, the conference brings together the best and brightest SAS users and experts. It’s always focused on giving you the ultimate conference experience by offering the best quality and most relevant content possible – and, of  course, ensuring you have fun doing it. After all, as I tell my children, we are in a rare field where we are paid to solve puzzles! That same sense of fun and spirit of discovery has really come in handy as we’ve worked to shape the 2015 conference. Read More »

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Opportunity…Share, Present, Win!

Editor’s note:  Bob Whitehead has been a SAS user for 30 years and won his first trip to SAS Global Forum! Both Michelle and Bob Whitehead are members of Western Australia SAS User Group (WASUP). This excerpt from Michelle Homes’ post on the SAS blog Left of the Date Line tells the story. 

Headshot of SASGF 2014 trip winner Bob Whitehead and Michelle Homes

Bob Whitehead, Bankwest, with Michelle Homes, Metacoda, at SAS Global Forum 2014

The New Year brings fresh opportunities, and 2014 is an exciting year for SAS users in the Australia New Zealand (ANZ) region to form connections, share ideas and get inspired!

At the start of 2013, Hanlie Myburgh, SAS Customer Advocacy Manager for ANZ, announced a new incentive to encourage SAS users to present at their local SAS user group: the Best Presentation Award. This award is given to the presenter with the best presentation content determined by attendee feedback in the evaluation form/online survey. The winner receives an Apple iPod and the chance to win the MAIN PRIZE – a trip to SAS Global Forum 2014 in March, with flights, accommodation and registration expenses all covered by SAS Institute Australia.  In 2013 there were 15 best presentation winners who were placed in the random draw for the MAIN PRIZE and on Friday 17thJanuary 2014

Bob shares his experience in being a presenter at WASUP as follows:

“I have always enjoyed presenting new topics at these events. The opportunity to learn something new and impart that knowledge to other SAS customers is a great experience. The unexpected surprise of winning a trip to the SAS Global Forum in Washington DC this year is obviously fantastic.  After almost 30 years of being involved with SAS, I have yet to attend a SAS Global Forum.”

Bob would also like to “Thank SAS Institute Australia for supporting the various user community groups around Australia and providing such a great incentive for people who choose to present papers.”

Keep an eye out for Bob’s presentation on his experience at SAS Global Forum 2014 at the Q2 2014 WASUP meeting in June.

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SAS communities: The power of all

SAS Global Forum 2014, included a meetup of SAS users who are active in various online communities. During the meetup I was struck by the tremendous opportunities that these communities provide. All year long, the online communities demonstrate the conference theme: "the potential of one, the power of all." This article highlights these SAS communities. As you read, consider whether participating in these communities might help you become better in your job as a SAS programmer.

SAS Support Communities

The biggest and most active online community is also my favorite: the SAS Support Communities. At the Support Communities, you can ask questions about using SAS software or share your knowledge and experience by answering someone else's question. The graph at the left (click to enlarge) shows recent activity in the SAS Support Communities. The number of posts in 2013 is plotted against the 2012 traffic on a log10 scale for various subcommunities. Each subcommunity serves a specific industry or SAS product. You can see that some subcommunities, such as the one that discusses SAS Macro and DATA step issues, had 10,000 or more posts in 2013. Other communities had less traffic. For example the SAS/IML Community had 500 posts, which represents a 67% increase over the 2012 traffic. Overall, there were more than 36,000 posts in the support communities during 2013. Anyone can read the threads in the SAS Support Community, but you need to register in order to post a question or an answer. Read More »
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SAS hits sweet spot at SAS Global Forum 2014

My husband is a life-long golfer so I’m no stranger to the term “sweet spot”. So when I heard the applause after Dr. Goodnight announced free software for students and faculty, my first thought was SAS has hit the sweet spot with this one.

At WUSS in November, I attended a panel session on SAS in the Cloud, which was largely a discussion of SAS OnDemand for Academics, the software offering for the Academic Community. There were two recurring themes among panelists and audience:  students with Apple devices having no access to SAS and students often frustrated with installing SAS on their devices.

In the few short months since the Las Vegas conference, SAS has made good progress in expanding access to SAS software. For many, the highlight of SAS Global Forum 2014 was the launch of SAS Analytics U and the announcements of the SAS University Edition that will be released later this spring. Read More »

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Catalyst Cafe--sharing a passion for the product

Well, if I were asked to name the most intriguing spot in the SAS Support and Demo Area, it would probably be The Catalyst Café sponsored by SAS R&D. This exciting new area at SAS Global Forum 2014 is aptly name:  a informal meeting place dedicated to jump-starting  ideas for how SAS can enhance your user experience with SAS software.

Talking to SAS users one-on-one and hearing your enthusiasm for the software is why SAS Global Forum is so very powerful for SAS employees. Here in the demo hall, you can see the “Potential of One, Power of All” in action—not only within the SAS user community but also among the SAS staff who develop, test and support the products you work with every day.

I snapped a couple photos for a little taste of the area--each station is a creative way to capture your feedback.

“Just Tell Us” Feedback Forum. SAS  is making your feedback more personal through videos. Do you have something you want to say to SAS developers about your product? If you’re still at the conference, come on down and chat with the folks in Catalyst Cafe! Read More »

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