The cost of modernization


Unless you live in England, you may not have seen the recent announcement that Buckingham Palace is to undergo a 10-year refurbishment costing the British taxpayer £369M. Even with the post-Brexit devaluation of Sterling, that’s still a sizable spend representing nearly US$500 million. The Queen will remain in residence during the work, which will begin next April. The BBC article goes on to describe refurbishment as being “clearly long overdue” and says the building is “at risk from electrics, plumbing and heating barely updated since the 1950's."


What, you may be thinking, does the refit of Buckingham Palace have to do with analytics? It's all about modernization!

The good news is that SAS turned 40 this year, so none of our customers have an infrastructure quite as old as Buckingham Palace. Though I did encounter an organization recently that's still successfully using SAS 6 on an IBM mainframe.

On a more serious note, my experience suggests that successful modernization shouldn’t require a massive one-time investment, and it is better accomplished over a period of time involving a number of evolutionary steps.

If you're unsure what steps you should take for modernization, consider the Business Analytics Modernization Assessment (BAMA). I  lead this program for Europe and am proud to offer this as a no-charge, discretionary activity to select customers who want to improve the use of their SAS assets.

How do we assess modernization?

A BAMA assessment is typically conducted over a 2-day period on the customer’s premises and consists of a series of short workshops involving both the customer’s business and IT teams. It takes a holistic view of your existing analytics landscape by considering the following themes:

  • People – that’s to say how your teams employ analytics in their daily activities as well as their knowledge of and aspirations for analytics.
  • Process – ideally we drill down into your business processes to understand existing use cases, identify current challenges and explore future requirements.
  • Data – as the bedrock for effective analytics: what data is employed by these processes and its quality.
  • Technology – an appreciation of how SAS is currently deployed and to understand the standards & practices of the IT organization.
  • Culture – how pervasive is the use of analytics across the organization ?

The output of a BAMA assessment is a set of recommendations reflecting these themes accompanied by a suggested priority for each, portrayed as now, soon and later. We also try to rank these recommendations based on our assessment of their expected impact, with an estimate of relative cost or complexity to implement each recommendation.

While some of these recommendations may involve the acquisition of new software, it’s often the case that improvements can be achieved by other means. These can be wide ranging including changes to the current business process; additional training; activities to promote more widespread use of analytics or specific changes in data governance. With this approach, customers receive a “smorgasbord” of recommendations that each contribute to the modernization journey.

Armed with these recommendations a customer is now in a better informed position to make value-based decisions on how to proceed with the task of modernization. It may be prudent to target some “quick wins” in order to quickly build momentum for the modernization program and secure support for more significant changes, perhaps incurring higher cost and complexity.

If you would like to discuss how BAMA might help your organization modernize its use of analytics, get in touch with your local SAS representative.


About Author

Paul Gittins

Business Solutions Manager

A seasoned architect with hybrid business and technical skills, Paul encourages clients to adopt new SAS technologies embracing Hadoop, in-memory processing, high-end RDBMS and Cloud. His goal is to persuade client enterprise architects, technologists and data scientists to extend their use of SAS as an enterprise technology, leveraging partners including Teradata, Cloudera, AWS, Google & Microsoft. He has conducted architecture & best practice reviews and consulting engagements in more than 40 countries and has led multi-disciplinary teams to success in large and complex environments.

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