It was not your average stage entrance. With a full Roman entourage and a majestic portable throne, SAS Global Forum 2011 Chair Debbie Buck, smiled broadly as she made her way to the stage in front of 2,500-member crowd at Opening Session.
Her message for conference attendees: “In the words of Julius Caesar, 'I came, I saw, I conquered. SAS Global Forum can help you conquer your analytics and business challenges. ... We are the ones who analyze the data to derive key pieces of information … to answer the tough questions to set positive direction for the future,” she said. “And we’re just getting started!”
That same sentiment might have been uttered 35 years ago, when SAS held its first users’ group gathering in Kissimmee, Florida. That year, there were less than 300 users present.
“Every year, I look forward to this conference,” CEO Jim Goodnight said in his opening remarks. “We learn how to make SAS more effective and relevant to your needs.” From the beginning, Goodnight said, SAS has valued user feedback. “Our satisfaction ratings in 2010 were the highest since we began measuring them in 2001.”
Goodnight welcomed CEO of Caesars Entertainment Gary Loveman who talked about his long history with SAS and Goodnight. “He and I are both recovering academics. He went into software development; I went into gambling and drinking,” said Loveman to roars of laughter. But the ways SAS has helped Caesars support their desire to have world class customer relationship management over the years is no laughing matter to Loveman. “With SAS, we have created an experience that truly distinguishes us.” Loveman invited conference participants to wander about the facilities and ask his staff how they use SAS to help manage everything from inventory to the price of a 24-hour food buffet.
Annette Harris, Vice President of Technical Support, joined the stage to recognize the 2011 SAS Technical Support User Feedback Award winner, Tom Kari of Statistics Canada. Kari redesigned mainframe systems within his organization to include a broader range of non-technical users.
With a live iPad demo and a sneak peek at two new social media product offerings, SAS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis left attendees wanting for more, which they will likely get in Tuesday’s Technology Connection session. Davis took a chance by tapping into some real-time Twitter posts and running related sentiment analysis (in addition to a quick glance at the NCAA Final Four basketball game). One tweet worth noting: “SAS geeks invade fancy lounges in Las Vegas.”
“We’ve been talking about measuring social media, but what we need to do is move from measurement to action,” said Davis.
Be sure to watch all of the Opening Session action, including guest appearances from customer sites Macy’s, Washington State Labor Division, CJLEADS, Royal Bank of Scotland and more. Video will be available later today on the SAS Global Forum site.