SPSS Broadens CRM Scope

Launches new division to market company's analytical software in tandem with services.

SPSS Inc. is taking software that it has developed for analysts and repurposing it for a broader audience.

SPSS new CustomerCentric Solutions division, which was announced last week, will market the companys analytical CRM (customer relationship management) software in combination with services and middleware.

To be sure, SPSS is no stranger to statistical analysis. The company, which has more than 30 years experience in the field as well as with data mining, introduced an analytical CRM product called CustomerCentric about a year and a half ago.

The focus of the new division will be on providing complete analytical CRM solutions of software, services and what company officials call the "glue" software that creates an easy-to-use environment for business users.

"Historically, the people in an organization who used our software were analysts," said Susan Phelan, general manager of the Chicago-based companys division. "But the kinds of people using it now arent analysts but marketing professionals, middle management and senior executives."

The division will target deals of $1 million or more. Those deals will involve a large amount of services, and Phelan said the solutions will have a "high degree of tailoring" to customize them to each customers needs.

SPSS will remain in the statistical analysis and data mining businesses, though the former is no longer a growth area for the company, Phelan said.

Todd & Holland Tea Merchants, a high-end specialty tea retailer in River Forest, Ill., is a beta site for the CustomerCentric package. SPSS analytics form the basis for the companys Web site recommendation engine, which recommends products to Web surfers based on what customers with similar buying habits have bought.

SPSS consultants are also analyzing Todd & Hollands customer database to form profiles based on demographics and customer value.

"We want to target the group of customers thats just below our top group that has the potential to become a part of that top group," said William Todd, president and co-owner of Todd & Holland.

Ultimately, Todd said, the company wants to retain its existing customers, sell more to them and acquire qualified new customers.

"Were a small entrepreneurial startup," Todd said. "We pour the bulk of what we get [in revenues] into marketing, so our marketing dollars are very precious to us. What we want to be able to do is target marketing, so that if were going to send out a direct-mail piece to 50,000 people, using the SPSS technology maybe we can send it to 20,000 instead and have it be more productive."

Although the program is still in a pilot phase, Todd did note that the first two customers who made purchases at the companys Web site after the recommendation engine was installed also bought products that were recommended to them.

Todd & Holland plans to extend the recommendation engine technology to the point-of-sale system at its retail outlet.

"We think we have a very high-end customer, and we want to respect that customer in the way we reach out to them," Todd said. "We dont want to sell them something they dont want or that doesnt meet their needs."