Bob Romero is currently an independent consultant at Comcast. He grew up in Colorado and graduated from Adams State College with a major in math and physics in 1973. Romero worked at the Denver Research Center of Marathon Oil Co. for 21 years, where he wrote well log analysis programs in ALGOL on a Burroughs mainframe. He says he originally thought ALGOL was the most powerful programming language but then found he was able to convert a sample tracking system from seven AGOL programs with more than 7,000 lines of code to one SAS® program with a mere 350 lines of code. Romero began writing SAS applications and teaching SAS coding for Marathon Oil. He took a job at US West, where he was classified as a Technical Expert in SAS and data analysis. After a brief stint as a Senior Consultant for SAS, Romero went back to the telecom industry and became a contractor for AT&T Broadband.
How long have you been using SAS®?
What SAS products have you used in the past? What products and solutions are you currently using?
Currently: Base SAS, SAS/ACCESS to Oracle, SAS/ACCESS® to Teradata, SAS/ACCESS to PC File Formats, SAS/ACCESS to ODBC, SAS/CONNECT®, SAS® Enterprise Guide®, JMP®, SAS/GRAPH®, SAS/AF®, SAS/FSP®, SAS/EIS®, SAS/ASSIST®, SAS/STAT® and SAS/QC®.
What is a problem you have solved using SAS?
I had been working as a contractor for AT&T Broadband when it was bought by Comcast. In February 2003, I was told that my contract was going to end, as there was absolutely no money in the budget for me. Luckily, it was at that time that the executive vice president for the telephony product of Comcast wanted to know what the product mix was for all Comcast customers. Because of the merger, there were three different billing systems in different databases. No one was able to provide the report to her – until they approached me to see if I could do it. I had been extracting data from these databases on a monthly basis and storing them in SAS data marts. Within two hours, I was able to produce a report of the product mix of video, high-speed Internet and telephony by region, division and total Comcast, using SAS. I'm still at Comcast working as an independent consultant.
What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?
When I worked at the Denver Research Center of Marathon Oil Co., I was asked to put the geological descriptions of core samples next to the data from the same well on a big Versatec electrostatic color plotter. Using PROC GPRINT and PROC GREPLAY from SAS/GRAPH, as well as Base SAS, I was able generate a geological worksheet that was 44 inches wide and 68 inches long. I built a SAS/AF interface so that a technician could enter the well name, and then the program would locate the well data on a tape, join it to a SAS data set that had the descriptions (from a geologist and imported from Excel) to create the plot. I also programmed fold lines on the plot so that when the technician trimmed the worksheet, she could then fold it to fit into an 8.5-by-11-inch clear jacket that could be inserted into a binder. At the time, there were 15 partners in the second-largest oil field in the United States, and each wanted its own copy of each geological worksheet from over 1,000 wells. So there were over 15,000 copies made.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
My most memorable SAS moment (and the most memorable moment of my career) was when I was asked by SAS to present a paper (originally given at SUGI 23) to telecom executives in Hong Kong. The paper was about how we were able to track held orders for phone service at US West Communications using inherent characteristics of Base SAS and SAS/IntrNet® – a held order is a customer request for a first telephone line that is not put in place within a specified number of days). By providing information about the various milestones during the process of all held orders, including those that were out of process, engineers and employees were able to use the information to greatly improve the number of orders met on time. Orders met on time increased from 45 percent to more than 95 percent in a few months. This obviously led to greatly improved customer service and reduced fines from the Public Utilities Commission. It also led to the highest team award ever given by the company. I was able to easily make the case for a $1 million sale for Sun hardware and SAS software. Our team was featured the 1998 SAS Annual Report and the first quarter issue of SAS Communications in 1999.
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
Products such as SAS Enterprise Guide, SAS Enterprise BI Server, and SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office have made it much easier for nonprogrammers to use SAS. There is also a whole new career path due to the expanded role of the SAS administrator.
Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum? If yes, please list them.
I helped start the Denver SAS Users Group in 1994, and I attended and presented papers at WUSS '98, '99 and 2000. I attended SUGI 14, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 30.
Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?
When Dr. Timothy Coburn was hired by the Denver Research Center of Marathon Oil Co. in 1985, he stated that one of the conditions for his employment was that the Center would purchase SAS software. He also gave a course on Base SAS, SAS/STAT and SAS/GRAPH – and I fell in love with SAS. He then handed off the course to me to teach at various locations. About a year later, Don Caldwell, who had been using SAS in the London office, was transferred to the Research Center. He taught me more advanced capabilities of Base SAS and SAS/AF. Lastly, I was able to use a paper given by Konen Vyverman on using DDE to produce nicely formatted multiple worksheet reports in Excel. This was for my clients at Comcast, who had given me templates to use.
If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?
Using Google is a great help, as is the search capability on the SAS website. I find the SAS Help and documentation in PC SAS to be the most helpful resource. The same is true for SAS Enterprise Guide – it has a very excellent tutorial.