Anne Milley on DecisionStats

Great to see part one of Ajay Ohri’s interview with Anne Milley on today.

Yet with our annual subscription licensing model, SAS cannot rest on its laurels. Each year, customers vote with their checkbooks: if SAS provided them with business benefits, results and a positive ROI, they renew; if not, they can walk away. Happily for SAS, the overwhelming majority of customers keep coming back. But the licensing model keeps SAS on its toes, customer-focused, and always listening and innovating based on customer feedback.

Is an interesting take on it.

The debate, guessing, second-guessing, spinning and counter-spinning continues. Doom-mongers always come out on top in situations like this: if they’re right, they’re heroes, but if they’re wrong their errors are forgotten and they can go on to make further ominous predictions.

If only SAS® could swallow up R, this whole conversation could quietly go away. As it is, with R in the public domain, that’s not an option. It will be interesting to see how SAS responds, and I think there are a couple of likely responses:

Rely on the quality proposition – sure, it’s more expensive, …, but its better (Stella Artois)

Embrace open-source for the greater good of the analytics community, realising that if they can’t grow their market share, they can grow the market (IBM model)

But it all depends on what the longer term vision is: what will SAS look like in ten years time.

Will Dr Goodnight still be at the helm? If he’s not, will somebody have bought SAS – I can’t imagine SAS being bought by Microsoft – but who else has deep enough pockets?

I suppose these short-term issues could have a dramatic influence on the purchase price of SAS Institute: if licensing revenues fall and the value of the IP is eroded by open-source offerings, then what is left other than an estate agency? How deep would those pockets need to be?

If SAS weren’t sold, could the SAS Institute become a self-owned, or employee-owned, foundation?

I’m curious to know more about the long-term perspective: how does SAS see itself in a decade, it would be great if part two of Anne Milley’s interview gave us a taste for this.

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  1. [...] After reading the interview with Anne Milley, I laughed out loud when I saw Ajay Ohri’s earlier post (R for SAS users,) just what I [...]

  2. By SAS and R | on March 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    [...] Ajay Ohri posted part 2 of his interview with Anne Milley. [...]

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