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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Climbing the language barrier during international expansion

Goodnight notes that travel creates difficulties for SAS's expansion into Asia, but the company has smoothed its path by producing its product in different languages.

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Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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JG: We have expanded throughout Asia, but you've got to remember that Asia is a huge place. The actual cost of doing business there is quite high because of the expansive territory. Flying from Japan to Australia is just a huge, huge area. The one thing that we have in the US and Europe is the compactness of the territories. It makes it easy to move a marketing person that has an expertise in particular area. You know if you're in Poland and you need him in Hungary, it's not a big travel issue. They can be there in half a day or less. That's one of the biggest problems I think we have with Asia is it's just very difficult to move around. The new market is not as advanced as the US and Europe. They're still so many places that aren't even using computers in those areas. JM: Given the essential character of the SAS product, does that help reduce or eliminate the entire issue of somehow transcending cultural barriers because you're in the end talking about statistical manipulation of data? JG: I certainly think so. Plus, we go to a great extent to, a great effort, to make sure that SAS is converted to whatever language we're running in. If we're in China, you'll see a lot of Chinese characters on the screen. If we're in France, you'll see French. In Germany, you'll see German. We have a very active translation department that translates our software. We developed methods, many, many years ago, that essentially everything -- any words or phrases that are printed out -- has got to be stored in external files so that, if we want to convert to a foreign language, we don't have to reprogram anything. We just have to go change the external files that have the phrases and words in them.