Analysis Software Gives Boost to Area Firm
Byline: Shabnam Mogharabi Medill News Service
When Northwestern University graduate student Christiana Henry needed software to analyze data she collected during a research project, she turned to the program she knew best.
"SPSS is pretty cool because you don't have to program anything," said Henry, who has taken two statistical analysis courses as part of her integrated marketing and communications coursework. "It's user-friendly, given what it does. They've got them loaded in all the computer labs at school."
Henry is familiar with the SPSS line of data-mining products because Chicago-based SPSS Inc. has taken advantage of a distinct marketing opportunity - statistical courses in higher education.
Loyola University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and other schools across the country teach students how to use SPSS products.
SPSS programs are also used by government agencies, corporations and organizations to help analyze consumer patterns and make predictions about consumers' future behavior.
Now, with a revamped release of its basic software earlier this month to coincide with the company's 35th anniversary, SPSS Inc. hopes to generate new interest in its solutions in order to survive the increasingly competitive data-analysis market and return to profitability after a two-year period of financial tumult. But not all analysts are convinced.
"This is probably one of the most exciting releases of SPSS in decades - the most feature-rich," said Jack Noonan, president and CEO of SPSS. "We have a whole new graphics element, a number of customer care features."
Since its founding in 1968, the company's products, which include the SPSS line as well as Clementine, LexiQuest and NetGenesis brands, have been installed on more than 250,000 customer sites.
The company holds a 10 percent market share in the $2 billion analytics and data-mining industry, according to the 2001 Software Tool & Application Sector research report, and it has garnered a 60 percent market penetration in providing data-analytic software to the market research firms that conduct national surveys, like The Gallup Organization and Nielsen Media Research.
There are signs that SPSS, which has a current market capitalization of more than $300 million, is on a recovery track. In the second quarter, the company reported net income of $2.2 million, or 13 cents per share, as compared to a net loss of $259,000, or 2 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. This bodes well for the company's potential to turn a profit by year's end, after losses in 2002 and 2001 and only a slim profit in 2000. …