If SAS Institute CEO Jim Goodnight is feeling pressured by IBM's recent purchase of rival predictive analytics vendor SPSS, he's not showing it. "I haven't noticed much difference, really, since IBM bought them," he said in an interview.
"We have competed with SPSS for 35 years. We've competed with IBM that same amount of time. Nothing really new competitively has taken place as far as we're concerned," said Goodnight.
SAS bills itself as the world's largest privately held software company, reporting $2.26 billion in sales during 2008. It has seen heightened competition of late, as vendors such as IBM, Oracle and SAP aggressively flesh out their BI (business intelligence) strategies.
IBM's SPSS purchase particularly seemed aimed at SAS, given the latter's long track record in predictive analytics, which center on modeling future outcomes and conducting "what-if" scenarios, rather than generating reports from historical data stores. Forrester Research has predicted further consolidation in the predictive analytics space, which includes a range of smaller vendors as well as open-source projects, in the wake of IBM's move.
IBM is hoping to boost predictive analytics projects with a new 4,000-strong services arm it formed earlier this year. "I hope they can find work for all of them," Goodnight said. "Analytics is big, it's certainly the next wave, but I'm not sure it can grow as rapidly as IBM thinks it can."