Jim Goodnight

Software Entrepreneur

Age: 59

Claim to fame: In 1976, he co-founded SAS Institute Inc. in Cary, N.C. At $1.1 billion, it is now the world's largest privately held software firm.

What he's doing now: SAS chairman, CEO and programmer

Could a couple of college professors today start a software company in a garage and see it grow to $1 billion? Of course that would be possible. This is America. The cost of entry into the software business is a lot lower today because you can buy a computer for $1,000 and off you go. But in my day, it cost that much for a keypunch machine, and then you had to rent time on a big mainframe.

What's the future of data mining and data analytics? We see data analytics as helping to close the intelligence gap that so many companies are struggling with right now. They have enormous amounts of data in their [enterprise resource planning] systems and all their other online systems. The ability to get that data warehouse where you can do data mining and predictive work with it, that's what we are going to see a lot more of over the next four to five years.

What benefits might companies get? Some large companies recognize the value of their data, the ability to predict which customers might be leaving, which are likely to buy additional products, which ones you might be able to up-sell and so on.

Will Microsoft take over everything? I guess they have the ability if they wanted to. In general, Microsoft will continue to dominate on the desktop. We are seeing a move from the desktop to more of a browser interface, and it's pretty obvious Microsoft will dominate in that area as well.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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