SAS Institute

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Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute Inc.
Type Private company
Industry Software
Founded 1976 (1976)
Founder(s) Anthony James Barr
James Goodnight
John Sall
Jane Helwig
Headquarters Cary, North Carolina
Key people James Goodnight, CEO and Co-founder
John Sall, Co-founder and Executive Vice President
Revenue Increase $3.02 billion US$ (2013)
Employees 13,814 (2013)

Coordinates: 35°49′37″N 78°45′44″W / 35.82694°N 78.76222°W / 35.82694; -78.76222

SAS Institute is a Cary, North Carolina- based developer of analytics software. It owns the largest market share for advanced analytics[1] and is one of the world's largest private software companies.[2][3] SAS (pronounced "sass") develops and markets its software (also called SAS), which helps companies gather, store, access, analyze and report on corporate data to aid in decision-making.[4] SAS’ software is used by about 79% of Fortune 500 companies.[5]


SAS began in the 1960s as a research project at North Carolina State University led by James Goodnight and Anthony J. Barr. It was intended to analyze agricultural data from the United States Department of Agriculture in order to increase crop output.[5][6][7] A consortium of eight land-grant universities that made up the University Statisticians of the Southern Experiment Stations, which was primarily funded by the USDA,[8] funded the project under a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).[9] When NIH discontinued funding in 1972, consortium members chipped in $5,000 each per year to keep developing and maintaining the system.[8]

By 1976, the project had more than 100 customers and the four leaders of the SAS project left the university to incorporate SAS Institute.[9][10] Its first SASware Ballot, where customers are asked for suggestions to improve the software, was introduced the same year.[9]

By 1978, the company had 21 employees and 600 SAS customer sites.[9]

In 1980, SAS moved its headquarters to its current location in Cary, NC.[10]

During the 1980s, SAS was one of Inc. Magazine's fastest growing companies in America for six consecutive years.[11] During the 1990s, SAS grew to 7,000 employees.[12] As of 2011, SAS had more than 50,000 customer sites and 200 products.[1]


SAS has been profitable each year for 35 years as a private company. Approximately 25% of revenue is spent on research and development.[13][14][15][16][17] SAS CEO Jim Goodnight has been able to keep the company private, because the company has no debt and large cash reserves.[5][18]

SAS had revenues of $138,000 its first year in business in 1976. It grew to $1.02 billion in 1999 and $3.02 billion in 2013.[19] SAS' partners include Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, EMC Greenplum (a division of EMC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, Oracle and Teradata.[20]


SAS has a reputation as a good place to work. Its workplace benefits are based on the idea that they allow employees to focus completely on their work, by relieving staff of causes of outside stress that may be distracting. SAS CEO Jim Goodnight describes it as a triangle, where happy employees make happy customers, which makes a happy company.[21] In academics it’s well-established that this approach is effective, but some feel it’s rarely implemented.[5][22] In 2010, the on-site healthcare center saved the company an estimated $6 million.[5][23] These benefits may also account for SAS' low turnover: SAS lost 3.7% of its employees in 2000, which is about one-tenth of competitors' rates.[13]

Employees are given a large amount of autonomy and trust, all the while being well-compensated and well-taken care of.[13] In return for those benefits, the company expects a high level of performance from its employees.[13] As one employee put it, “Here, I know everything I do has an impact on the final product. That gives you a sense of responsibility to get things done right and on time… Here, a goof is a deliverable goof."[13]

Entrance to SAS Campus in Cary, NC.

The SAS campus has a number of employee perks, including childcare centers, "M&M Wednesdays", soda fountains and snacks in every breakroom, and a 58,000-square-foot (5,400 m2) recreation and fitness center.[13] Some company traditions were established during the 1970s, when it employed 20 people.[22] Staff were taken out for pizza each time 100 customers were won. Profit sharing was offered. Fresh fruit was provided every Monday and M&Ms every Wednesday.[5][17] Today employees eat 22.5 tons of M&Ms a year.[5][24]

SAS opened its first on-site childcare center in 1981, when an employee planned to become a stay-at-home mom after her maternity leave.[5] It was also in the 1980s that SAS opened the recreation and fitness center, a healthcare center and a café. In the 1980s, SAS won one of its first awards as an employer when Health and Living magazine named SAS in a list of “Healthiest Companies to Work for” in the U.S.[9][24]

The SAS headquarters in Cary, NC features a 66,000 square foot recreation and fitness center and an on-site health care center that are both free to employees. The health center conducted 40,000 visits in 2009.[25][22] The company covers 89% of health insurance premiums and has unlimited sick days.[5] SAS subsidizes the cost of childcare, fitness and similar programs for remote employees.[26] SAS also sponsors work/life balance programs including support for elder care, adoption, financial planning, lending libraries, and a summer camp for children.[5][25][17][22] An onsite childcare center is available at a significant discount to SAS employees. Three subsidized on-site cafeterias served 500 breakfasts and 2,300 lunches a day in 2010.[5]


SAS Institute is frequently included in lists of the best places to work. SAS has been listed on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list every year in the US since its inception in the late 1990s.[5] In 1999, SAS Australia was the first non-US region to be recognized as a great place to work. SAS was identified as a best place to work in a 2004 USA Today article.[14] In October 2008, SAS's Canadian division was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's. Later that month, SAS was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers.[27] In 2010 and 2011 SAS was named No. 1 on Fortune's best places to work list.[28][29] SAS Belgium, SAS Norway and SAS Sweden have also been named No. 1 in their countries by the Great Place to Work Institute.[30][31][32] In 2011 the Best Place to Work Institute ranked SAS No. 2 in a list of top multinational companies to work for.[33] and in 2012 was ranked No. 1.[34]

Management style[edit]

As SAS Institute has grown, it has chosen to create new divisions, instead of adding layers of management, leading to a very flat and simple organizational structure. According to Fast Company "the sense of accountability at SAS is so ingrained and the lines of reporting there are so simple," that it doesn't need a formal organization chart.[13] According to Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business School, there are only three levels in the organization and CEO Jim Goodnight has 27 people who directly report to him.[35]

Because the organizational structure is fluid, the promotion process is not very significant. An employee can easily go from software developer to project manager back to software developer in this system (Kurtzman, “An Interview with Jeffrey Pfeffer”). SAS also does not have a very formal evaluation process. CEO Jim Goodnight says he evaluates staff on how well they attract and retain talent, because he feels keeping and motivating the best talent, will cause everything else to work out.[35]

SAS does everything in-house. At its facility in North Carolina, every employee, from the gardeners to the cafeteria workers to the child care center workers are all SAS employees. The company does not outsource anything. This is because SAS believes it is more cost effective and the workers do better work.[36]

At SAS managers are involved not only in management, but in doing the work itself side-by-side with those they manage. In an interview in Fast Company, an employee said, “My manager is doing what I'm doing. She is in the trenches, writing code. Dr. Goodnight was once in the same group that I'm in.”[13] According to a report in Software Business Magazine, this breeds respect among management and staff, speeds up the decision-making process and produces a flatter organization by limiting the bureaucratic middle-men.[36]

There is a large degree of autonomy within the system and job descriptions are often very fluid. This leads to employees being able to work on projects that they’re passionate about and committed to.[35] Furthermore, this is a significant deterrent to the type of alienation Marx described because employees are choosing the projects and departments they want to work on.

Charity and community[edit]

SAS Institute provides free web-based teaching curriculum to more than 50,000 teachers and 12,000 schools through its Curriculum Pathways program.[37] The company is a founding member of the North Carolina 1:1 Learning Technology Initiative.[38] In 2010, SAS supported the Triangle High Five Algebra Readiness Initiative and started hosting the first annual Algebra Readiness Summit for 400 math educators.[39] SAS is part of initiatives that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching and careers; examples are the Change the Equation (CTeq) program and Computer Science Education Week.[39]

In 2010, SAS donated about $400,000 worth of laptops to high schools, $1.2 million in cash, and $170,000 in surplus equipment/hardware. SAS maintains an Executive Sustainability Council focused on operational sustainability and the company’s senior management is involved in several environmental organizations.[40] SAS sponsored the SAS Soccer Park (now Wake Med Soccer Park) in Cary. SAS Hall, the new mathematics and statistics building at North Carolina State University, is also named after the SAS Institute. SAS used to be the principal sponsor of SAS Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina (now "WakeMed Soccer Park"). Jim Goodnight is one of the major contributors to Cary Academy.


Year Company Business Country References
2012 rPath, Inc. Software appliance  United States [41]
2011 AssetLink Integrated Marketing Management  United States [42]
2010 Vision Systems and Technology (VSTI) Advanced Analytics Professional Services  United States [43]
2010 Memex Intelligence Management Software  Scotland [44]
2008 Teragram Natural Language Processing  United States [45]
2008 IDeaS Revenue Management Software for the hospitality industry.  United States [46]
2006 Veridiem Customer Intelligence  United States [47]
2003 Marketmax Merchandise Planning and Analytics Software  United States [48]
2003 Risk Advisory Risk Management  United States [9]
2003 OpRisk Analytics LLC Management Consulting Services  United States [49]
2002 Verbind Software Behavioral Tracking and Event-Triggering Software  United States [50]
2002 ABC Technologies Inc. Software Developer and Wholesaler  United States [51]
2001 Intrinsic Ltd Campaign Management Software  United Kingdom [52]
2000 DataFlux Data Quality, Data Integration and Master Data Management  United States [53]
1997 Statview Life Sciences software from Abacus Concepts Business Analytics  United States [54]
1993 GESCAN International, Inc. Document and Workflow Management Systems  United States [55]
1988 NeoVisuals Inc. 3D Computer Graphics and Animation Software  United States [56]
1986 The Lattice C compiler, often considered the first C programming language on the IBM PC C Compiler  United States [56]
1984 The System 2000 Database Management System from Intel Corporation Database Management  United States [56]


SAS Institute develops and markets business analytics software collectively called SAS. SAS draws from statistics, predictive analytics, data mining, data visualization, operations research, quality improvement, graph theory and text analytics to help organizations predict, measure, analyze and decide based on data. It is used in detecting fraud, risk management, regulatory compliance, performance management, customer/marketing analysis and supply chain management.[57]

A SAS application may combine data integration, data quality, data mastering, enterprise data access and data governance to source, cleanse and pool operationally generated and third-party data into an accurate source of input for analytical modeling. Analysis engines then apply a series of transformations, models and testing routines relevant to the use case. Analysis results are delivered to operational systems, dashboards, reports and other graphical user interfaces where they are consolidated, presented and used for automated or business-level decisions.[57] SAS utilizes grid, in-database, and in-memory computing algorithms and methods to address extremely large data volumes.[58] SAS also refers to the SAS language, a fourth-generation programming language.

Community and support[edit]

The SAS Global Certification program was established in 1999 and includes credentials in SAS Programming, Predictive Modeling, Administration, Data Management and Business Intelligence.[59] In early 2005, the program had issued 5,000 certifications.[59] As of 2011, more than 35,800 SAS certifications have been awarded in 77 countries.[60] Exams are delivered in a proctored environment at users groups, SAS facilities, universities, and other locations.[61]

SAS Publishing has an online bookstore and an in-house writing staff that develops product documentation for all SAS products and features. In the early 1990s SAS Press was founded as an independent publishing arm of SAS that publishes books written by SAS users, for SAS users.[62] Researchers and academics who have published their work with SAS Press include Neil Timm,[63] Ravindra Khattree, Dayanand N. Naik,[64] Peter Westfall,[25] and R. C. Littell.[65] By the end of 2010, more than 160 books were published by 250 authors.[66]

The SAS community includes users groups on the local, regional, and international levels, and within customer organizations. The structure of each group varies by country, region and group. Typically users groups are led by volunteer boards and committees of SAS users.[62] SAS Institute often supports users-group events by inviting local users, providing logistics support, contributing speakers or sharing expenses.[citation needed]

SAS Global Forum is a worldwide user conference, held in a different city each year to promote education, training, networking and professional development.[67] The event is led by SAS Global Users Group, which is a non-profit organization governed by an executive board. The board is composed of 25 SAS users and three SAS Institute representatives.[68] The first SAS Global Forum was in 1976 in Kissimmee, Florida and had just over 200 attendees. At the time it was called SAS Users Group International (SUGI), before being renamed to SAS Global Forum in 2006.[69]

Online communities[edit]

An e-mail list called SAS-L was started in the 1980s and is still active today. SAS customers and programmers on SAS-L began a tradition of saying "a little birdie told me" when SAS made covert contributions to the SAS-L community by providing authoritative answers to SAS user participants.[70][71] In 2006, SAS Institute started the online support community forums.[62] In 2007, SAS Global Users Group announced, an online SAS community with Wiki-style collaboration and information sharing. SAS employees were openly invited to contribute.[70][71] It includes events, articles, Sasopedia, TIPs and related social media sites.[67][72][73]

User groups[edit]

There are five regional SAS users groups (RUGs) in the US. They typically hold annual regional conferences, but may also support local users, smaller events and workshops throughout the year. Each regional group is led by its own executive committee, which determines the frequency, length, and content of its conferences.[74][third-party source needed]

There are special-interest SAS users groups for specific industries or job roles. For example, there are special interest groups for JMP users, pharmaceutical, insurance & finance, retail and for statisticians. Some meet annually and others meet more frequently.[74][75]

In-house SAS user groups (IUGs) are composed of users within a single organization, enabling its members to discuss confidential topics and share real data from their projects. Local users groups (LUGs) support users within geographic regions like a city, county or state. LUGs are more localized versions of regional users groups (RUGs), but act independently. There are also international users groups for various geographic regions around the globe.[74]


Boeing 737-700 BBJ of SAS Institute.

SAS also maintains six aircraft for use in company operations including Bell 407 helicopter, a Boeing 737 Business Jet, an 8 passenger Cessna Citation X, a pair of 12pax Dassault Falcon 900's and fractional ownership in a six-passenger Hawker 400.[76]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b By Chris Baysden, Triangle Business Journal. “SAS grows analytics market share.” June 13, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
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  76. ^ "FAA Registry". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 

External links[edit]