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Top 5 reasons why CIOs like SAS 

SAS executive explains how to bring efficiency to IT 

We work hard at SAS to understand our customers’ business problems, but we also make every effort to understand what IT leaders are confronted with on a day-to-day basis. Let me be clear: It’s not that IT isn’t interested in the business value, or that IT leaders don’t understand it. That would be insulting.

The CIO of a Belgian Federal Ministry explains it like this: “IT invests in new technologies that deliver massive efficiency gains to the business, but then we [IT] are left with the recur­ring charges from these investments – including maintenance, licenses and upgrades – while the business enjoys the benefits. The following year, the benefits are forgotten and the IT budget gets cut again.” Over time, this pattern creates such frustration that IT leaders become leery of vendors who pitch business benefits.

In my 11 years at SAS, I’ve worked with dozens of CIOs, and I’ve helped with hundreds of SAS implementa­tions. In that time, I worked two years in sales, five years as Director of our professional services division, and – most recently – I’ve led the country office for SAS Belgium. Based on my experiences with CIOs in nearly every industry, I’ve come to believe there are five main reasons CIOs enjoy working with SAS Business Analytics. 

System integration
To deal with budget cuts and demands for efficiency, IT leaders are always look­ing for ways to reduce disparate skill sets so that they don’t have to have different employees supporting a complex, patchwork system. We have customers managing SAS with just one or two full-time employees for a popu­lation of hundreds of users for critical business applications. One international bank I work with has a long history of business analytics developments, and they are a best-of-breed shop because they’ve implemented a series of dispa­rate systems over a long period of time.

The CIO knows that situation very well, and he understands fully the value of an integrated platform and the cost savings that could come with it. How­ ever, it’s not a strategic time for him to make a wholescale change across his organization. But who did he choose last year when looking for a complete platform for a new site in a foreign subsidiary? He chose SAS, partly because he wanted a test case for the benefits of an integrated system.

The SAS System is portable, and we engineer our releases in a way that minimizes migration issues. The CIO of a large manufacturer recently told me they migrated their 15-year-old SAS programs from a VAX VMS system to

Windows in just a few hours, and they still run fine. In contrast, he has decid­ed to drop Business Objects, because his team had to rewrite everything to migrate it to XI, and that was the third time he confronted that same issue with them. That rewriting is something he has never experienced with SAS.

SAS Analytics can do almost anything. That means we can replace a lot of other systems. If standardization is the agenda, SAS can help reduce vendors in order to reduce overall costs. We’ve helped customers successfully replace CA MICS, Focus, IBM QMF and more. One retail bank we work with decided to buy the entire SAS Business Analytics Framework for data integration, busi­ness intelligence and analytics. Then they started looking at SAS IT Resource Management, and realized if they bought it to replace CA MICS, the savings they saw by not paying the MICS license fees paid for the entire SAS investment, includ­ing the business analytics framework. Plus, we used a SAS Macro to complete the conversion project in 1/20 the time it would have taken for the bank to do it themselves manually. In the end, the bank invested 400 man days to complete the conversion, but increased revenue by US $1 million per year.

SAS can do what others vendors do, but those vendors can’t do everything that we do. In other words, customers can use their existing SAS products for more than they currently do to­day without paying anything more.

We’re working with two different CIOs to replace QMF and Focus on the mainframe. In both cases, SAS mainframe renewal fees are lower than the competitors for the same or better functionality.

The CIO of a Belgian payroll man­agement company said that SAS is probably the only software that will survive the phase out of their mainframe. He says that negotiating with us is to­tally different than with the other legacy vendors who know that they have no future anymore and therefore play it extremely hard. At SAS, we help these customers move away from a lock-in situation where they get charged rip-off prices by platform providers. At one company, we learned that SAS usage fees on the mainframe have larger collateral costs than the actual SAS li­cense fees. For every $1 spent on the SAS renewal fee, they’re spending $2 for CPU time and $1 for storage. We’re now help­ing that customer move 80 percent of their SAS usage to cheaper platforms, where CPU cost will be 50 cents per dollar of the SAS renewal.

As you can see from these examples, SAS makes every effort to support IT and the business. It doesn’t have to be either or. When we take the time to understand both, everyone benefits.

Patrick Van Deven, SAS Belgium Country Office Manager

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