SPSS Improves Its Business Analytics

Acquisition of DataDistilleries makes sense, as products are highly complementary.

Although known primarily as a statistical and data mining power, SPSS Inc. has added additional business acumen to its solution stack with the acquisition of Dutch analytics specialist DataDistilleries.

SPSS agreed to acquire privately held DataDistilleries in a cash and stock deal worth $6.4 million. Netherlands-based DataDistilleries markets a suite of analytic applications that includes marketing (DataDistilleries for Marketing), fraud detection (DataDistilleries for Fraud Detection), and call center (DataDistilleries for Call Centers) components.

In addition, the Dutch company also distributes an “Analytic” suite—which supports several predictive modeling technologies, including regression and forecasting—and a “Real Time” suite, which provides an interface between its own products and those of third-party operational CRM systems from Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., and Siebel Systems Inc.

Analysts say the deal makes a great deal of sense, as DataDistilleries rule-based analytic and predictive data mining tools are actually complementary to SPSS’ own products. “The product and technology footprints actually don’t overlap much, but that is partly true because SPSS discontinued its CustomerCentric line of analytic applications last year,” writes Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc.

In particular, Schiff notes, the analytic capabilities of both companies’ products are highly complementary. For example, SPSS markets a predictive analytics model-building tool called “Clementine,” while the capabilities of DataDistilleries’ analytic tools are more rules-based. On the integration front, Schiff notes, DataDistilleries has invested significantly in the creation of application workflows and user-friendly business interfaces—features that SPSS can exploit to enhance the business-friendliness of its own tools.

Although the two companies’ products are highly complementary, Schiff concedes that there is overlap in at least one area. “Currently the only real overlap on the application side is with SPSS’s Predictive Marketing application and DataDistilleries for Marketing,” he says, noting that SPSS has disclosed plans to merge both products. “Another immediate project will be to integrate the SPSS Clementine data mining workbench with the DataDistilleries product set.”

Schiff suggests, however, that competitors may attempt to raise questions about SPSS’ longtime track record as a purveyor of analytic tools, as distinct from analytic business applications. With this announcement, he points out, SPSS seems to be abandoning its CustomerCentric analytic applications, which it launched more than three years ago. “The company seems to have had limited success with these products and this looks like its way of replacing them,” he speculates.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.