Most everything about James Goodnight, the co-founder and chief executive of SAS Institute Inc., is big.

There's his Cary, N.C., company — the largest, privately held software company in the world. And his stature, over six feet tall. And then there's the number of really big lists he has been on: the Forbes 400 Richest Americans, Inc.'s Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs, and Harvard Business School's greatest 20th century business leaders, for starters.

So certainly Goodnight, who's been in the computer and software business for decades, must have something really big to say about "big data" analysis and its importance to banks?

Or, maybe not.

"Big data has become very important right now, because people are tired of talking about 'cloud computing,'" Goodnight said with enough of a smile during a recent product briefing in New York that you know the joke is on you.

Banks actually have been dealing with the problems of big data for years, Goodnight said, because they collect so darn much of it.

But before big data, it was "software-as-a-service," and then "object-oriented programming" — and don't forget "agile software development," to name just a few.

"It is a new buzzword every couple of years. …You can go right back through our history," Goodnight said. "I can't even remember all the different ones."