I'm writing from the freezing cold press room in a resort in sunny Orlando, Florida, where SAS is hosting its annual customer and executive conference, SAS Global Forum. Amid the buzz from journalists arranging interviews with SAS customers, executives and industry thought leaders like Guy Kawasaki and Thornton May, I find myself struck, again, by the overwhelming positive vibe of this event.
When one of our VPs commented to me that she thought this was one of our most successful conferences in the past 32 years, I asked her why. She said with exuberance, "I can't put my finger on it exactly, the users are just exceptionally happy this year!"
Usually, when someone tosses out the term "love fest," it's tinged with sarcasm and hyperbole. But this is truly a meeting of the minds--and hearts--of businesspeople determined to not only improve their own organizations, but who are sharing their ideas with colleagues and competitors alike. Citigroup and Wachovia, State Auto and Allstate, to name a few, sharing their innovations with business intelligence, analytics and performance management--all in the name of knowledge sharing.
The irony isn't lost on me that among the fairy-tale world of Mickey Mouse and Snow White, there are more than 3,700 SAS users here learning how they can better solve real-world business problems. But then, the theme of our conference this year is, after all, "innovation"--and what better place to dream big than Disney?