SPSS statistics company buys into business data mining

SPSS Inc. is in the business intelligence market with its $7.1 million purchase of
Integral Solutions Ltd., a British data mining company.


“The data mining market is rapidly consolidating down to a small number of
vendors,” said Don MacTavish, a senior research analyst at Meta Group Inc. of
Stamford, Conn. “SPSS has the potential to be one of the leaders.”


SPSS of Chicago, until now a statistical software vendor, plans to develop and sell
Integral Solutions’ Clementine tool, which does advanced modeling via neural
networks, regression and rule induction. It uses data manipulation and visualization to
help users extract information from large data sets.


The fact that SPSS is a U.S. company “should enhance our ability to get support
and upgrades,” said Jesus Mena, a research analyst at the IRS’ Research Division
in San Francisco.


A longtime user of neural network and decision-tree products, Mena has been evaluating
Clementine for six months and has used SPSS statistical products for several years.


Through classification, clustering, segmentation and optimization techniques, Mena
said, IRS researchers try to predict taxpayer behavior. That helps the tax agency decide,
say, how many operators to hire for different hours of the day and times of the year.


Some statisticians want only descriptive services from the tools sold by SPSS or SAS
Institute Inc. of Cary, N.C., Mena said, but data mining can provide richer business
intelligence.


“I used to do this manually,” he said


of Clementine’s reporting, which makes streams of data by linking nodes using
icons. “It’s a third- or fourth-generation data mining tool.” Mena said he
also likes Clementine’s canvas-type graphical interface.


SPSS sells to the government through a General Services Administration Information
Technology Schedule contract. 


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