Exclusive: Dell Management on Analytics, Data Mining, Statistica future

In March, Dell bought StatSoft, a maker of popular Statistica platform for data analysis. I recently talked with Dell management about the acquisition, role of Statistica in Dell, and Dell plans for Analytics, Big Data, and Data Mining.

By Gregory Piatetsky, @kdnuggets, August 2014.

Dell bought StatSoft Dell bought StatSoft in March 2014, and its press release said
The acquisition of StatSoft bolsters Dell Software's growing portfolio of information management solutions, while further enhancing the company's open approach to data management. StatSoft adds advanced analytics to a robust set of software capabilities ...

In June, I published a summary of 2014 KDnuggets Annual Analytics/Data Mining Software Poll results, and commented that
Statistica share has now declined for 2 years in a row (from 14% in 2012 to 9% in 2013 and 1.7% in 2014). With the recent acquisition by Dell, it seems likely that Statistica will continue to lose market and mind share.

This comment got the attention of Dell, and they arranged for me to talk to its key executives on analytics side.

In the past, I had interviewed Dr. Thomas Hill, StatSoft VP of Analytics and co-author of key papers on Cognitive Mining - see Exclusive: Cognitive Mining, Data Mining, and StatSoft - Interview with Dr. Thomas Hill and I was interested to see what is happening to StatSoft and Statistica after acquisition.

I spoke to John K. Thompson (General Manager, Global Advanced Analytics) who himself joined Dell only recently) and John Whittaker (Senior Director, Product Marketing), responsible for all of Information Management business. Thanks to Scott Desiere from Dell for arranging the conversation.

Where does Analytics fit into Dell?

Dell is a very large company, which delivers comprehensive, platform- and data-agnostic, modular solutions, delivered via many data platforms including Oracle, SQL Server, Hadoop, MongoDB, and IBM DB2.

Its major business units include
  • Hardware (PCs, laptops, servers, etc)
  • Services: IT/business alignment, infrastructure readiness, analytics maturity, performance measurements
  • and more recently, Software, which includes BI and data discovery, and with the acquisition of StatSoft, also Advanced Analytics.

Since Dell is not providing their own data platform, they can be an integrator and offer best-of-breed solutions. Dell message of lower TCO, aligning business and IT finds its sweet spot in the middle market - companies with 500 - 5,000 employees (although Dell also has Fortune 50 customers).

Dell BI/Analytics software solutions include
  • Boomi: integration platform as a service - data integration network
  • SharePlex, a high-speed data replication and data integration solution, popular for Oracle to Oracle replication and recently enhanced with ability to replicate from Oracle to other structured and unstructured databases, including SQL Server, DB2, Sybase, Netezza, Teradata, Hadoop and Greenplum.
  • Oracle to Hadoop replication solution
  • ToadBI - Toad data point - intelligence central, data provisioning linked to a mashup server - a next gen way of doing mashups
  • Kitenga, provides integrated information modeling and visualization capabilities in a big data search and business analytics platform, including connection to NoSQL databases.

However, Dell was missing an advanced analytics tool and Statistica nicely filled that void.

Statistica fills a missing piece in Dell offering

Plans for Statistica

First, the name will be changed to Dell Statistica, with "StatSoft " gradually retired.

Former StatSoft CEO Dr. Paul Lewicki became CTO of Dell Software information management group, while StatSoft VP Dr. Thomas Hill became Executive Director of Analytics, reporting to John Thompson.

Dell Statistica has more than 1 million users worldwide, with vertical-specific expertise in a number of areas including pharmaceuticals, financial services, technology and manufacturing. Dell does not break out user totals by region, but StatSoft was known to have a strong user community in Europe.

From over 100,000 employees worldwide, there are thousands whose jobs in some form or function involve analytics. StatSoft group was about 100 people, half of them in analytics roles. Post acquisition, Dell hired 18 new people, 15 of them in sales and marketing.

Dell is very excited about the future of Statistica, both in terms of its synergy with the broader Dell Software portfolio and its continued impact on the advanced analytics industry in general.

The acquisition of StatSoft was in March, and John Thompson, General Manager, Global Advanced Analytics, came on board after that, so he is still working to determine the specifics of the product roadmap for Statistica and related products over a multi-year period.

Statistica screen-shot

I have asked some specific questions and here are the answers:

Roadmap? Dell is aggressively investing in the development of Statistica, hiring new people, and is committed to delivering market-leading functionality, not only in the product itself, but through Dell ability to support key industry standards, as well as complementary products and technologies.

Pricing? StatSoft pricing was very complex, and Dell plans to simplify the pricing, ranging from about $2000/seat to enterprise-wide licenses.

Cloud? Cloud deployment of Statistica is a part of the roadmap planning.

Hadoop? Statistica can access data in many file formats and storage systems including Hadoop.

Integration with R? Statistica was an early supporter of R. Dell continues to support the R community and the language to extend and leverage the value that they obtain from a joint Statistica+R environment.

PMML? Dell supports PMML and will continue to do so going forward.

Conferences you plan to exhibit Dell Statistica?

Some of the notable conference at which the Dell Statistica team will be in attendance include
  • TDWI Boston in July,
  • the Gartner Catalyst Conference in August,
  • Predictive Analytics World Government (DC) and
  • TDWI San Diego in September,
  • Predictive Analytics World (Boston) and
  • Strata + Hadoop World in October,
  • Dell World (Austin) in November, and
  • TDWI Orlando in December.

Statistica would be a valuable addition to a Dell integrated solution, especially for mid-size companies. However, Dell emphasized to me that they will continue to support the standalone tools marketplace, and plan to strengthen the core Statistica offering.