SPSS Strives to Raise Analytical Profile in Public Sector

SPSS Strives to Raise Analytical Profile in Public Sector

Arlene Garcia

By Lisa Terry, Contributing Writer

SPSS Inc. of Chicago is seeking to raise its profile as a provider of analytical applications to government by retooling the management of its public-sector division and launching a new partnering program.

The data mining company hopes to tap government agencies' need to better know what citizens want and develop superior electronic government solutions by enabling agencies to understand and predict what people will do.

More agencies want to use customer relationship management tools, and agencies face increased accountability to the citizenry, said Arlene Garcia, a former Oracle executive who was hired in September 2000 as vice president of public sector for SPSS.

"Everything from the way the government interacts with citizens to the way we as citizens go about demanding services from government is completely different now than three years ago," she said.

A driving force behind the changes at SPSS was a disappointing third quarter performance by its public-sector division, which, as the company's largest division, brought in 15 percent of SPSS' $142 million 1999 revenue. Sales in the public sector did not keep pace with the 14 percent growth rate the company as a whole experienced during its third quarter, which ended Oct. 31, 2000, according to the company.

Part of the reason was there was no one in a senior management position to guide the division serving the federal, state, local and higher education markets in the United States and Canada.

The company in September began addressing this weakness by bringing in Garcia to head the public-sector division. Garcia has hired former Oracle colleagues Ellen Smith Gajda as national director of federal systems, and Steve Greenberg as national director of business development for the public sector. Both come from government backgrounds.

In late December, SPSS added another former Oracle executive, Sarah Mattingly, as director of partner alliances. She is responsible for working on relationships with systems integrators as well as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and relational database providers.

The 32-year-old software development company also wants to spread the word that it can supply more than statistical products, which account for two thirds of its revenue and are primarily used by the scientific community to crunch large amounts of data. SPSS products include Systat 10, which helps researchers plot data and present it graphically.

SPSS' more broad-based analytical products fill several important government needs, such as its need for complete understanding of citizens, Garcia said. The company's eMine product, for example, can help an agency track how a citizen navigates its Web site, in order to create more efficient paths to information.

Among the steps the public-sector division is taking to expand its government customer roster is the formation of a partner program, to be announced in the first quarter of 2001. Previously, the bulk of sales were direct, with just a handful of partners such as IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and NCR Corp. of Dayton, Ohio, which embedded SPSS solutions in their own offerings.

"We're really looking at the whole gamut ? [large] systems integrators and smaller ones as well," Mattingly said. "Our goal is to understand who our customers are using and target those, and look for places where we see value-add."

SPSS will provide training, tools and information to its selected partners. "We're not just looking for 'add us to your arsenal,' " but for development of specialized, value-added services and support, she said. Mattingly plans to have five partners on board in each public-sector segment ? state and local, federal and higher education ? by the end of the first quarter.

"SPSS is well-known for its statistical prowess and traditional data mining [expertise]," said Bob Moran, research vice president and managing director for research firm Aberdeen Group, based in Palo Alto, Calif. "They've had to fight smaller upstarts in order to get attention in analytical solutions."

SPSS has some government customers for its analytical products, including the Defense Department, which will use SPSS' Clementine data mining products in a pilot program to track fraudulent activity in vendor pay transactions, as well as to target students likely to be receptive to military recruitment programs.

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice is a long-term SPSS user, using its products daily for tasks such as predicting the need for treatment facility construction, calculating the impact of proposed legislation on the agency and performing regression analysis on the effectiveness of treatment alternatives.

Research firm International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass., classifies most of SPSS' business among companies that develop enterprise decision support solutions that users can customize for uses such as end user query and reporting, online analytical processing, executive information systems, data mining and packaged data marts.

SPSS' position in the packaged analytical application market is growing, according to IDC. This market, which stood at $1.9 billion in 1999, includes products such as market research and retail-specific analysis tools, said Henry Morris, vice president of applications and information access for IDC. The company garnered about $15 million in revenue in this category in 1999, he said.

The firm faces a competitive marketplace in the decision support and data mining space. Aberdeen's Moran said, "It's a crowded market where it's difficult to make differentiation."

The company's chief competitor is the $1.02 billion SAS Institute Inc., Cary, N.C.

The company is a victim of its own success, battling its own high profile to expand awareness of its newer capabilities and needing to balance the preferences of its long-term users with those of newer customers, Moran said.

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