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Blog: What is Modernisation?

As I write the British summer is upon us and that means our week of fair weather has been and gone.  It also means the bulk of SAS conferences for the year have concluded. Amadeus have been presenting about our experiences of Modernisation this year, and having presented on two continents, three SAS Forums and a handful of private sessions. One point has consistently captured the attention; simply:  What is Modernisation?

Modernisation paper small

Defining Modernisation

Our paper, Modernise your SAS Platform is basically divided into a number of short sections that subtly describe the lifecycle of most organisations software upgrade journey.  We begin by standardising terminology.

  • Upgrading. The outcome is a newer set of the same software products or solutions, running on the same infrastructure. This means applying anything from a maintenance update, point release or even a major version update.  Your organisation benefits from enhanced functionality within the software you already use. The knowledge transfer required is low, obtained either by self-learning, or instructor led workshop. The impact to upstream and downstream processes supplying and depending on SAS data is minimal.
  • Migrating. The outcome may be a newer set of the same or similar software products, probably moved onto different infrastructure, possibly on different architecture. Migrating may also be the process of reengineering SAS jobs to accommodate a change in upstream or downstream systems to which SAS interfaces. Your organisation benefits both from software enhancements and probably from newer, faster infrastructure. Knowledge Transfer requirements are likely to remain low assuming architectural changes are transparent to end users, however the impact of changing storage devices, mapped drive letters, mounts etc. must be carefully evaluated. Upstream and downstream processing may be the trigger for the migration project.
  • Modernising. Implementing software technologies that enhance capabilities or reduce the time and effort required to achieve existing functionality. For example, SAS programmers adopting Data Integration Studio or Management Information reported with SAS/IntrNet is migrated to SAS Visual Analytics, or numerous programs and SAS macros for customer selection and modernised with Customer Intelligence solutions. Such modernisation will almost certainly require new infrastructure. The benefits recognised by your organisation are productivity and capability; each allowing you to maintain a competitive advantage in business. Knowledge Transfer is key to success and should be planned along with the technical implementation. End users, teams and systems who interact with SAS must be included in the modernisation project.

With certainty, the terminology overlaps and different organisations refer to these terms with different meaning.

Being Human Whilst Being in Business

Understanding why we want to modernise is important.  There certainly are business lead stimuli for the project (or programme of projects), with sponsors who evaluate the benefits to the organisation:  Being competitive in the marketplace, improving customer experience or satisfaction, etc.  The second thing that has struck me through presenting this paper during the spring and summer of 2015, is just how receptive audiences have been to the human impact of analytical modernisation. We must remember that people use SAS, either as one part of their jobs in otherwise hectic schedules or as dedicated programmers.  Consequently there are those who wish to expand their programming skills and exploit new features of software to the greater good of their organisation, contrasted with those who predominately desire simpler access to increasingly sophisticated analytical and statistical methods.  Modernisation embraces each of these groups.  Upgrading and migrating is dependent of modernisation.  Those who program become ever more productive and the advanced capabilities of SAS (and the jobs written by SAS programmers) reach ever greater influencing users in your organisation. I hope the rest of the conferences and forums this year generate as much stimulating discussion… and despite being British, I will avoid suggesting what the weather might be like.

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