Sierra Data Science
Andrew Karp is a veteran SAS programmer and owner of Sierra Data Science, (www.SierraDataScience.com) a SAS consulting and training firm. He is currently chair of the Sacramento Valley SAS Users Group and of the Virtual SAS Users Group, an online resource for SAS users (www.VirtualSUG.org). When he's not on the road working for clients teaching classes, Karp lives in Sonoma, CA. He has flown more than 1 million miles to speak at SAS users events in 11 countries and to present SAS training seminars. Karp earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from The George Washington University. In his spare time, he is an avid amateur photographer.
How long have you been using SAS®?
What SAS products have you used in the past? What products and solutions are you currently using?
Base SAS, SAS/STAT®, SAS/ETS®, SAS/GRAPH®, SAS/ACCESS® Interface to PC Files, SAS/OR®, SAS® Enterprise Guide®
What is a problem you have solved using SAS?
One of my favorite examples of a problem solved with SAS was when I worked for a large investor-owned utility company. Using SAS, I was able to demonstrate to my co-workers that a consultant's analysis of residential high-bill complaints was done incorrectly. I realized that if we implemented the consultant's recommendations, we would spend millions of dollars on a solution that really wouldn't fix the problem. Instead, using a 2x2 crosstab generated with PROC FREQ, I showed that most of our winter-season high-bill complaints came from a small, well-defined customer segment that had not been identified by the consultant's expensive and poorly-conducted study. I used SAS to show that we could work directly with that segment of customers on their winter-season energy usage. This had a greater impact and at a much lower cost than the solutions the consultant proposed.
What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?
A few years ago, while working as a consultant to a large bank, I used SAS to cluster or segment their retail branches based on their operational and customer demographics, rather than on their geographic location. The results gave their management team very clear insights into the different types of customer segments and how they were using the retail channel for their banking needs. The bank was then able to tailor in-branch operations and customer marketing efforts based on the segment the branch served. Also, the compensation structure for branch management was revised based on these results.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
In 1995, I had a chance to visit New Zealand to speak at their annual SAS users event. While there I was asked to teach some SAS classes at an aluminum smelter on the southern end of the South Island (one of the windiest points in the world). I was issued a hard hat and respirator to carry with me at all times while at the facility, and I still have the laminated safety instruction card I was also issued my first day on site.
One of the SAS users there (a quality control engineer) took me in to one of the "pot rooms" where the aluminum is smelted. Only after we put on our respirators did he realize he forgot to tell me how dangerous it was to stand in a specific part of the "pot room" where white-hot blocks of spent carbon (think enormous charcoal briquettes) were moved via cranes to a cooling pond. Well, that was exactly where I was standing and I could not understand him telling me to get out of the way since his respirator was garbling his speech. At the last minute, he grabbed the lapels of my coat and pulled me out of the path of the hot glowing carbon block. My backside was warmed up considerably as it passed by, but at least I was not burned by it!
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
I first used SAS on an IBM mainframe using the CMS operating system. Of course, PC SAS has changed the way we can use SAS tools on data, along with products like SAS Enterprise Guide and other menu-driven offerings. To me, the most dramatic change in how SAS is used is the Output Delivery System (ODS). In my first jobs using SAS (and in graduate school), we would literally cut and paste results generated from SAS in to our final reports using a pair of scissors and a bottle of glue. The vast and growing array of ODS tools really provides a lot of power to SAS users to deliver their analyses/results while avoiding tedious manual processes. And, ODS Statistical Graphics add a whole new level of analytic power to SAS users.
Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum? If yes, please list them.
So far I have attended 18 SAS Global Forum conferences and been an invited speaker at 17 of them. Over the years, I've also spoken at meetings of all the regional SAS Users Groups and at local users group events in Alaska, Hawaii, and elsewhere in the US. I've also spoken at SAS users events in the People's Republic of China, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, the Netherlands, Russia and Singapore.
Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?
Yes. One of the best things about the SAS Community is the "share what you know" ethic that pervades it. My work with SAS has been influenced greatly by Frank DiIorio, Art Carpenter, Michael Raithel, Ron Cody, Susan Slaughter, Lora Delwiche and other SAS Press authors. I've also been influenced by SAS employees such as Chevell Parker, Bob Rodriguez, Dan Heath, Sanjay Matange, Alan Eaton, David Kelley and several others whose names I can't recall right now. Since I do a lot of training of new SAS users, I have also been influenced greatly by the folks who have attended my training seminars. I've learned more from them, probably, than they have learned from me. And, I should also recognize the influence Dr. Philip Wirtz, professor of psychology and of decision sciences and newly appointed Vice Dean of the School of Business at The George Washington University, has had on me in the 30 years since I first learned about SAS from him.
If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?
It's hard to point to one resource. If forced to pick just one, I'd say the SAS Concepts manuals and the SAS Procedures documentation. If I am allowed more than one, I'd then add SAS Press texts and the trove of users group presentation papers available at www.lexjansen.com.