Monday 6 May 2013

NOTE: SAS Global Forum 2013 Feedback #sasgf13

I just completed the conference survey. Overall I had a good conference - nobody booed during either of my papers, so that's a positive outcome! I liked the conference city (San Francisco), the conference venue was relatively compact (avoiding long walks between papers), I attended a number of well-presented papers, I learned useful stuff about current releases of SAS plus additional stuff about forthcoming SAS releases and how to plan for them.

I tried to offer some constructive feedback in my survey. Here's what I wrote. What do you think? Did your experiences match (or diverge)?
  • I was very disappointed to see the loss of the Closing Session. It felt like the conference just petered-out. There was no opportunity to say "thank you" to organisers and volunteers, and no recognition for presenters (best paper??). A big shame

  • I was greatly disappointed with the conference wi-fi. Even stood in one place it still seemed to come-and-go, and required a fresh login every time the signal was lost. As an overseas attendee (with very expensive data rates because I was roaming) I relied on conference wi-fi to keep in touch with emails, etc. The wi-fi caused me huge frustration

  • I'd like a few more papers on general software development best practice, e.g. requirement, design and testing. It's great to learn about the technology and the language(s), but my clients' investments are wasted if they don't build stuff effectively and efficiently. So, I don't mean papers about syntax, I mean advice, recommendations and experience about the operation of a SAS development and support team

  • I liked the conference's Android app. Hopefully it'll be a bit more "finished" next year, e.g. maps of the venue included in the app rather than requiring an internet connection to access them (see my comments re: conference wi-fi above). The ability to search for papers by name-of-author would be appreciated. An ability to filter My Agenda would be much appreciated because it involved a lot of scrolling to see my plans for Wednesday (having to scroll past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to see Wednesday)

  • I enjoyed the keynotes from Billy Beane and Roger Craig. Both were eloquent and amusing speakers, but both were talking about analytics and hence there was a strong tie-in with the conference.
Organising a conference is a demanding task. Organising an international conference for 4,200 attendees must be a mammoth task. My list of "enhancement opportunities" is miniscule when viewed in the context of the conference's organisers achievements. But there's no harm in trying to make next year's even better!