One of the most famous sayings in the world is probably “Unity is strength.” It is certainly widely applicable to very disparate areas, but surely it has nothing to do with platforms? Think again, because it could almost be described as their founding principle.
The platform promise
Back in the day, it was quite usual to have separate IT systems for separate tasks, or to handle different types of operational data. This had advantages, such as task-specific problem-solving capabilities, but it also had its disadvantages, notably lack of integration. This, in turn, led to gaps between functions, and problems with version control.
Enter platforms. There are various types, including operational, productivity and analytics platforms, and they are used to bring together use cases in one place. For example, an analytics platform supports the whole analytics life cycle from data preparation to deployment, across as many use cases and examples as required. This cuts the preparation time for future work because the data is already there and available, and also means that data from multiple sources can easily be brought together for use. This, in turn, improves the insights available, and also makes governance much easier. Unity is definitely strength here.
How is the task of administration different?
I realise that this is both true and current when I look at SAS® Platform governance, that is, the administration of the SAS Platform. The management of this type of technological infrastructure is more and more a matter of teamwork – and not only internally. The concept of collaboration with a much broader coalition of stakeholders is becoming much more mainstream.
- SAS administrators and IT staff.
- Users of the services provided by the platform.
- SAS support technicians.
- SAS experts (including third parties).
It is not unreasonable to describe it as a real ecosystem, in which the various players collaborate and interact. Their ultimate purpose is to allow decision makers to use the information and the analytics to inform decisions and action.
Each of these four groups has a slightly different role and requirements. The SAS administrators are responsible for ensuring that the platform works efficiently so that it provides an effective and continuous service to users. The users, in turn, use the solutions available to extract value from data and analytics. They provide feedback and ask administrators about configurations and issues about the platform’s performance and security.
SAS support technicians deal mainly with administrators, answering technical questions and solving system-type problems. SAS technicians and administrators tend to share a background of common knowledge, as they also share information across multiple channels such as support.sas.com, blogs, forums and social media. Finally, SAS experts deal with project activities such as installation and configuration and implementation of solutions.
The continuous interaction among these four groups makes it possible for customers to maximise value from the software and infrastructure investments. At the same time, however, customers are not the only beneficiaries, as the SAS support staff also increase their skills as a result of the feedback. This “virtuous circle” also increases awareness of the importance of all the stakeholders in delivering success for all those involved: effectively, the importance of collaboration and co-creation.
Keeping pace with learning
This collaborative environment is a natural fit with the open learning environment of meetups, a relatively new social phenomenon bringing together online and offline worlds. The idea behind Meetup is simple: use online resources to arrange real-world meetings between people with similar interests.
The meetings themselves are pretty democratic, meaning that people vote with their feet! If the subject matter is not interesting, the group will dissipate, which does tend to mean that talks and discussions focus on what is of interest to the members. It also encourages members to pitch in with their own talks and ideas. Meetings avoid anything that looks like a sales pitch, and discussion focuses on interesting talks about particular subjects.
Recently, SAS has created a SAS Platform Governance group on Meetup. We hope that you will register and attend some of the discussions and meetings. Even if the group has been thought for the people in Milan, we will be happy to welcome conversations in English from different parts of the world.