Company background: SAS is a Cary, N.C.-based software company with roots in American academia. Founded at N.C. State University in 1976, SAS has grown to become the leader in business analytics software and services and the largest privately held software company in the world.
Today, co-founder Jim Goodnight remains at the helm as CEO and more than 80,000 business, government and university sites in more than 140 countries rely on SAS® software. We make it easier for more people to use powerful analytics every day, to shorten the path from data to insight – and to inspire bold new discoveries that drive progress. The result is analytics that breaks down barriers, fuels ambition and gets results. We give our customers THE POWER TO KNOW®.
Contact: Beverly Brown
Title: Community Manager
SAS Tech Report (newsletter)
SAS Cares (Twitter)
Virtual SAS Global Forum (event website)
Kudos Category: Best-in-Class: Community
1. Describe your community(s) and how you decided to start a community or grow/change it? (user request, Khoros suggestion, internal idea, etc.).
The COVID-19 pandemic forced SAS Global Forum, our largest annual in-person customer gathering, to go digital. The unforeseen pivot made SAS Support Communities, already a global focal point for SAS conversations and content, decisive in the success of Virtual SAS Global Forum.
Our mature site is a hub of SAS expertise that complements our presence on channels such as YouTube and GitHub and across inbound customer support channels monitored by SAS’ Customer Contact Center. It's a friendly, collegial place. Relationships between SAS users and employees flourish there.
If we'd been less intentional about growing our community, the sudden shift could have fragmented the flow of conference content to SAS users. Instead, it elevated the SAS Support Communities as a key success factor for Virtual SAS Global Forum – and validated our top executives' 2015 bet that a Khoros-based community would help us grow and engage the SAS ecosystem in new ways.
A customer-centric ethos
Our best-in-class community, playing a vital role in today's new “normal”, rests on a user-oriented foundation built over five decades. Key turning points in our story:
The latter move, in line with our customer-centric ethos and users' growing preference for peer-to-peer and self-service support, marked a significant uptick in investment. We tripled community-management staff to grow engagement, curate content and enlist employee and customer experts to improve the quality and number of solved topics.
In the past year alone, we:
What are Shewhart Control Charts? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOPP5Oqm-9A
Indispensable channel for Virtual SAS Global Forum
As the pandemic took hold in mid-March and SAS sent us home to work, we re-launched SAS Support Communities with responsive skin for a more modern look and feel and refreshed our gamification around badges and ranks. To better serve inexperienced SAS users, we edited the welcome email to new community members to direct newbies to the New SAS User Community:
But an even bigger task loomed: setting up Virtual SAS Global Forum for success.
2. Tell us about how you made it happen? Did you stage it first? Who got an early look? How did you drive adoption? Did you get executive buy-in? Did you have any key iterations?
Once executive management moved SAS Global Forum 100% online, it was clear SAS Support Communities was positioned for the moment. When marketing leadership charged us with enriching the customer experience, here's what we did:
… and after the conference:
3. What were the results?
During the pandemic, the SAS Support Communities helped amplify important collaborations on the SAS Software GitHub, including a partnership with Cleveland Clinic to help health systems plan their capacity (https://github.com/sassoftware/covid-19-sas).
Top-level trends that indicate our pandemic pivot was successful:
Overall community health and success metrics are up and to the right:
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