Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebration is in the Air

... and it may not just be the spirit of the season! We've finally arrived: the final user group meeting of 2010. It's hard to believe, to be honest... this has been such a busy, full year with so much to celebrate. I'll have a lot of numbers, testamonials and new developments to share with you in the coming weeks... so just because the meetings are done for now doesn't mean there won't be any more posts! Au contraire, I feel like I'm just warming up...

The last TASS meeting of the year will be taking place this Friday, December 17th: if you haven't yet registered, it's not too late! You'll find the full agendas of both meetings here, as well as opportunities to register. In addition to this being the last meeting of the year, it's also a cause for celebration: this is the 25th anniversary of TASS! One of the original members, Carl Clutton, will be regaling the group with tales of the early days of TASS... 20 people who paid yearly dues to attend the small sessions. Fast forward in time and we're now seeing over 200 people attending what has grown into a full day meeting experience. The morning portion of the meeting focuses on coding-related issues, and the afternoon on more point-and-click interfaces such as Enteprise Guide, JMP, and Enterprise Miner.

This TASS meeting will feature Chevell Parker, an exciting coup for SAS Canada! Chevell is an incredibly valuable member of the SAS family. A Microsoft Office/Excel guru, Chevell will be talking about maximizing output between SAS and Excel, as well as some FAQs around how the two applications mesh. We're very excited to have been able to 'steal' him from Cary for a few short days... and on his wife's birthday to boot! Thanks, Chevell.

Look forward to seeing many of you on Friday and I'll have more following the meeting: stay tuned...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Parade Held in Montréal for the Business Analytics Forum!

OK, so that's wishful thinking. The truth is that the Forum analytique d’affaires SAS de Montréal happened to coincide with the victory parade for the back to back champion Montréal Alouettes. They were wending their way through the heart of downtown to the joyful cries of fans braving the wet weather in order to salute their heroes. As a native Torontonian whose team was handily eliminated in the preceding round by said Alouettes, I suppose I can take some cold comfort in the knowledge that at least we were beaten by the champs. Félicitations, Montréal: bien fait!

This final trip to a host city was bittersweet. Perhaps it's because I know I won't see many of my friends and colleagues for months, if not a year. Or, perhaps it's because I find travelling the country and meeting such interesting people so invigorating: my next opportunity may be as far away as SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas in early April! It's hard to imagine. However I still had this final trip to take and I was looking forward to enjoying some of the fine dining for which Montréal is reknowned. I had a more-than-willing collaborator in Rick Miller of CIBC.

I've known Rick for a few years having first met him through former TASS President Rupinder Dhillion at a user group meeting early in my SAS career. A long-time SAS supporter and even longer serving CIBC employee, Rick is currently the Vice President of Credit Risk Data Solutions within the Risk Management division of the bank. Approachable and knowledgeable about business and technology, I was thrilled when he accepted my recent invitation to present at the Forum analytique d’affaires SAS de Montréal. His presentation had been seen at SAS Global Forum 2010 by the group's President, Loretto Chiovitti of Desjardins: not surprising as Rick has presented three times at Global Forum. Entitled 'Supercharged Analytics', the talk is a compelling look at the rationale, requirements and ramifications of going to an in-database processing structure for increased performance and productivity. You'll be able to find a copy at the group's website within the coming weeks, but if you can't wait simply email me: I'll be happy to send you an advance version.

Rick's presentation was extremely well-received and inspired quite a few questions. Next, Ronald Allard of SAS Canada took the talk to a more technical level by showcasing some of the in-database processing options available through a variety of SAS tools and applications. As SAS' Jean-Francois Michaud joined the two presenters for an open-room panel discussion, it was clear the audience had saved many of their inquiries for this moment and that the presentations had stimulated some curiosity. Questions and answers filled the room over a half-hour's time and it we actually had to curtail discussion a bit in order to fit in the prize draw! All in all, a very successful meeting.

If I may, a word or two about the amazing hospitality and friendliness of Montréalers. From the amazing cuisine and conversation at Cavalli the evening before or the delicious lunch following the meeting, SAS staff, user group executives and attendees alike were amazingly gracious and hospitable. Thanks for making my last road trip one I'll remember!

There's only one more meeting this calendar year: two weeks from now, the TASS meeting takes place at the SAS offices. We'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the group so if you're in the area and haven't registered, please do: it's a great way to close out the year.

I'll have more for you about TASS in the next few days... until then.