SAP Goes After Predictive Analytics Software Market

Enterprise software maker SAP became the latest company to jump into the increasingly hot predictive analytics software market as it recently unveiled its new BusinessObjects Predictive Analysis application.

The company claims that the application's easy-to-use user interface, combined with advanced visualization offerings, its predictive algorithms, and its support for the R open-source data analysis and statistical language, enables users to bring greater productivity to their modeling and visualization work.

"We believe that predictive is no longer just a technology for statisticians and professional data analysts. We think it's the next extension of business intelligence in that it's officially for everybody in the business," maintains Jason Kuo, group product marketing manager at SAP.

The application, currently in "ramp up" mode (a controlled initial release period), is intended to enable customers to understand how historical sales, costs, and other key metrics translate to future performance; compare predicted results with goals; find correlations in data for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities; and provide other data insights as well.

In addition, while the BusinessObjects Predictive Analysis software works as a standalone deployment, the software can also be integrated with the SAP HANA database, which provides a data mining and statistical function library. Combining the two gives users added speed and greater predictive modeling capabilities, explains Kuo.

"HANA has its own predictive analysis library algorithm embedded within it, so that if you need to do some type of clustering or classification, or model execution, all of that processing just takes place...on the HANA server. That's a huge productivity gain and a huge benefit in terms of the insight that's available to the organization."

Customers can also layer analytics on top of non-SAP databases, such as Sybase, SQL, Oracle, etc., as well as access flat files and spreadsheets, and pull data from other SAP BusinessObjects applications.

SAP's predictive analysis software, which is competing against similar software already offered by IBM, Oracle, SAS Institute, and others, has been long overdue, according to David Menninger, vice president and research director at Ventana Research.

"SAP has been too long without their own predictive analytics capabilities, so this is an important addition to their product line," Menninger notes. "Readers should be aware that this is a first release and as such they should not expect as broad a feature set as some of the competitors, but the feature set will grow over time. Our recent predictive analytics benchmark research (www.ventanaresearch.com/pat) shows that integrating predictive analytics into customers' information architectures is the most common obstacle they face. As a result, SAP customers will probably welcome these features."

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