Learning from Our Learners: Education’s Customer Summit


For a service organization like ours, there are few things more valuable, let me correct that, nothing is more valuable, than feedback from our users. We are really lucky in this regard; SAS users are not bashful about sharing their opinions when it comes to “their” software.

We certainly benefited from this during Education’s 4th annual Global Forum Customer Summit. The Education Customer Summit brings in 20 or so of our largest customers to discuss training issues and to hear how well we are meeting their business needs. From past summits, we have had such revolutionary ideas as Fast Track courses (several courses combined into one 5-day course) and a suggestion to present our curriculum by job role to help customers identify courses they need to become more efficient SAS users.

This year’s feedback and ideas were equally valuable. The information we gathered during this two-hour session will help drive our work for the rest of the year. I thought I’d share some of the valuable feedback we received.

Lights, Camera, Action

One interesting idea was a request for a SAS Education Infomercial. (I have to admit I was a little surprised to hear this one!)

It turns out that many of the participants at the summit are the primary SAS expert at their site, and by default, the one who receives questions from colleagues interested in taking SAS classes. Our summit participants said that an introductory video from SAS Education would make their jobs easier by outlining all of our training offerings and delivery methods for their colleagues and keeping subsequent conversations focused on content rather than about what SAS Education has to offer.

One user even suggested the infomercial would be very helpful for him to advance SAS within his organization. He said that executives in his company really didn’t know about the power of “new SAS” and all of the capabilities of the new platform.

One size fits all?

We currently offer customized training, but we have also tested the idea of a new “plus one mentoring.” This idea involves leaving an instructor at a site an extra day or two to lead the customer through one-on-one mentoring engagement using their data and addressing real business problems unique to the organization. There was unanimous support for this service among customers. We’re fired up about it too because it would give our instructors real life, industry-specific problems to solve which would be helpful in teaching future classes.

We also asked our users to brainstorm courses they’d like to see Education create in the near future. There were a number of suggestions, but the most intriguing might have been the request for more robust training in support of SAS’ complementary products. Specifically mentioned were courses on “how to use SAS on top of Teradata” and “how to use SAS on top of Oracle.” We’ll scope these out completely in the next few weeks.

Finally, we tested the idea of a new SAS Training offering called our Deployment and Migration Service. These customized courses would help companies who are considering or have recently migrated to SAS 9.2 learn how to deploy the system on a broad scale or migrate their current applications to the new platform. Because the course would teach IT professionals how to provide these services in a widespread way, it would help them deploy and migrate other departments or groups within their company.

Let me close by saying how incredible it was to get this feedback from our users. Not only did we get great ideas for future work to improve our business, but our users really appreciated the opportunity to share with us what we were doing right, where we could improve and what topics they'd like to see us pursue.

We’re looking forward to implementing some of their suggestions.


Herbert Kirk, Vice President, SAS Education


About Author

Waynette Tubbs

Editor, Marketing Editorial

Waynette Tubbs is a seasoned technology journalist specializing in interviewing and writing about how leaders leverage advanced and emerging analytical technologies to transform their B2B and B2C organizations. In her current role, she works closely with global marketing organizations to generate content about artificial intelligence (AI), generative AI, intelligent automation, cybersecurity, data management, and marketing automation. Waynette has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from UNC Chapel Hill.

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