SAP goes after SAS, IBM with predictive analytics software

BusinessObjects Predictive Analysis will support the R open-source language for statistical analysis

SAP is hoping to stake out some turf in the predictive analytics software market with a new application, BusinessObjects Predictive Analysis software, which was announced Tuesday.

The application is now in "ramp-up," SAP's term for a controlled initial release period. It comes with a set of predictive algorithms and also allows the use of algorithms from the open-source R language for statistical analysis.

Predictive analytics differs from traditional BI (business intelligence) software. Instead of running static reports on sales data or inventory levels, the point is to explore and model business data, searching for correlations and trends that provide insight into future events, customer behaviors and other areas.

"The market and our customers have been anxiously waiting to hear a concrete predictive strategy from SAP," said Mani Gill, vice president and general manager of business intelligence solutions in a blog post on Tuesday. "The time has come."

SAP will compete with well-established predictive analytics products from the likes of SAS Institute, IBM's SPSS division and Oracle, as well a number of startups, such as Revolution Analytics, that are based on supporting R.

BusinessObjects Predictive Analysis will be offered in stand-alone form, but SAP also plans to couple it with the HANA in-memory database, which has a library of statistical functions, according to a statement. The software will also support access to other databases, including Oracle's, according to Gill's blog post.

Users will have access to "beautiful advanced visualizations and data exploration, all with a drag-and-drop interface for data selection, preparation and processing," SAP said. It will be possible to push results out to other SAP BI applications, mobile devices and Microsoft Office, SAP said.

"Predictive analytics is still a data statistician game, but people across the organization are demanding predictive insights," Gill said in the blog post. "We want to give all users what they need."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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