SPSS to launch new division

SAN MATEO (05/04/2001) - Looking to drive the value of analytics across the organization, SPSS on Monday will launch a fifth corporate division, known as CustomerCentric Solutions.

Through the new unit, the analytics vendor will offer software and services designed to help customers get the most out of their CRM systems, according to Susan Phelan, CustomerCentric's general manager, at SPSS in Chicago.

"CRM is not going to reach what it was intended for without analytics," she said.

Indeed, this past week saw SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc. touting products designed to help companies analyze CRM data as well as provide a big-picture view into how smoothly a customer is operating. Oracle Corp., Siebel Systems Inc., and Computer Associates International Inc. also offer similar analytical capabilities.

Additionally, N.Y.-based PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is extending the scope of its data warehousing practice to include integration of enterprise applications and running analytics on top of them.

Although PwC and enterprise applications vendors are offering a broader range of analytics than simply CRM (customer relationship management), SPSS is concentrating primarily on customer-related data at this point.

"We are looking at other places this can be applied, but CRM is where we started," Phelan said. She added that SPSS began with CRM because companies are collecting a lot of customer data and looking for a return on their CRM investments.

In keeping with perhaps the most significant BI (business intelligence) trend of late, SPSS is also aiming to make its analytics solutions accessible to more users within an organization.

One means to do just that is the Executive Center, which Phelan explains as a dashboard replete with key performance indicators, as selected by users, pertinent to a company's particular business.

So a typical dashboard includes 8-10 performance indicators as well as forecasting and modeling capabilities, and the analytics are run behind-the-scenes. The Executive Center and the overall software will be customized for every organization, Phelan added.

"We want to translate analysis into dollars and cents for executives so they can understand the impact of their customer relationships," Phelan said.

Henry Morris, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said analytics can help companies realize a return on their enterprise application systems.

"Using analytics with applications is a good way to earn back the price of the software," he said.