‘Unsexy’ SAS plans listing

One of the least sexy-sounding software companies in the world is planning to go public.

One of the least sexy-sounding software companies in the world is planning to go public.

US-based SAS Institute, whose origins are in statistical analysis software, is getting itself ready for a possible listing on the Nasdaq exchange by the middle of next year.

But the company’s strategy boss, Allan Russell, who is based in Germany, says if market conditions aren’t favourable, listing will be delayed.

“We’re not doing this to raise capital,” says Russell, who was in New Zealand last week telling customers about a change of focus at the company. “Our motivation is to get a bit more discipline in our internal processes, marketing and branding.”

Those are the benefits SAS sees its publicly floated competitors, which increasingly include ERP vendors including SAP and Oracle, enjoying. Russell says the downside, of being beholden to the whims of the market, is considered worth putting up with.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that it’s worth the trouble.”

Paying closer attention to image has already persuaded SAS to drop the “Institute” from its branding. Russell, who has been with the company 20 years, concedes the name left many wondering what the company does.

He’s busy telling customers, who in New Zealand include “energy companies and banks”, that the company has left behind its past as a statistical analysis tool maker.

The company’s approach today is to try to show organisations how to answer specific business questions, which it is doing through an expanding consulting arm, and will increasingly do in conjunction with management consultancies and systems integrators.

Consulting services contribute about 20% of the company’s $US1 billion revenue, and figure which Russell would be happy to see grow to 50%.

“I’d be a bit worried if we were making more from professional services than software, though, because then we’d no longer be able to call ourselves a software company.”

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