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Analytically speaking, Dell delves into the Internet of Things

Dell recently bought Statsoft, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company that produces analytics software. What comes next might not surprise you, unless you're easily surprised.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

On March 24, 2014, one long-running era ended and a new one began when Dell purchased Statsoft, Inc., a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based analytics company. Its STATISTICA software is a world-renowned analytics package used by thousands of businesses. 

Living in Tulsa* for the better part of the past two decades, I've seen Statsoft grow up. I know a few people who've worked there over the years and I pass by their building on the "BA" on a weekly basis, always wondering what they're up to. I also have pondered, "Why Tulsa?" I don't have an answer for the latter, but the former question was answered by John Thompson, Dell's Executive Director of Analytics. Although John spends a good deal of his time in Tulsa (Sorry about that, John), he and I connected by phone for this interview.

From the Statsoft.com site:

StatSoft, Inc. is one of the largest global providers of analytic software worldwide. We are also the largest manufacturer of enterprise-wide quality-control and improvement software systems in the world, and the only company capable of supporting its QC products worldwide, with wholly owned subsidiaries in all major markets (StatSoft has 30 full-service offices, on all continents). STATISTICA software is available in Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and other languages.

The STATISTICA product line provides cutting edge, enterprise-wide, scalable, fully web-enabled distributed processing systems. These systems are utilized across a wide variety of industries and applications by leading global corporations in areas such as:

STATISTICA is widely used as an integral component of corporate computer infrastructures to boost productivity and the bottom line, to increase safety, reduce industrial pollution, and help save the environment. It is also used in mission-critical manufacturing applications, in regulated FDA controlled industries including to help achieve compliance with CFR Part 11 and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulations, and as a foundation of corporate-wide Six Sigma initiatives.

My focus for this interview was to find out why Statsoft was a compelling purchase for Dell and what Dell's intentions are. I postulated that Statsoft is a stepping stone for Dell's foray into the world of IoT.

Without telling me exactly what Dell's plans are, I did confirm that it has plans to explore a lot of possibilities, including IoT.

One of Dell's main thrusts in this area is to round out their analytics platform and offering with Statsoft's analytics software. The short-term plan is to build a data factory. With a data factory, Dell's products can bring in all of your data sources, including IoT, and develop actions around the analytics that you gather. Because as we all well know, data is just noise unless you can do something useful with it.

Dell plans to help you do something relevant with your data by using its other products in conjunction with Statsoft's STATISTICA software. John confirmed that there's a lot of talk within Dell surrounding IoT, predictive analytics, and product integration. You can look forward to some announcements related to cloud services and predictive analytics later in 2014.

Statsoft brings a lot of possibilities to Dell's table and its business expansion going forward. Though John couldn't answer all of my questions related to upcoming products and services, I do have some predictions about this marriage of two great companies. None of my predictions were confirmed by John, nor would he speak directly to questions concerning company direction or upcoming announcements.

These are my predictions from watching Dell's moves, including the acquistion of Statsoft. Only time will tell if I'm right about any of them. 

  • Dell will begin with STATISTICA as it is, and has been, as a standalone product.
  • It will integrate STATISTICA into its own suite as a new combined product offering.
  • There will be a cloud-based SaaS analytics offering.
  • Dell will offer a "soup to nuts" IoT solution including hardware, software and cloud capabilities.
  • Dell will acquire some fledgling IoT companies in the process of building this line of business.
  • Dell will rebrand itself as it anchors into the IoT market.
  • Dell will offer a physical analytic engine appliance.
  • Dell will relaunch itself with an IPO and it will be big. Facebook big. Google big. Apple big.

So there are my eight predictions for Dell over the next 18 to 24 months. Yes, I realize how aggressive that timeline is, but I also know that Dell hasn't been sitting around doing nothing in this area too.

I fully expect Dell to pick up the pace in acquisitions of startup companies in the IoT business. I expect that there will be at least two large acquisitions of established brands as well.

The only downside to this whole IoT/Dell/Statsoft thing is that I'm not involved. It's too bad that the company doesn't need an "Idea Guy"— a futurist of sorts to help define direction, to ponder new products, and discuss new services in this area. 

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But just in case there is, I'd gladly relocate to Georgetown, Texas (Yes, I know Dell is in Round Rock**, but I want to live in Georgetown). I'd gladly take some company stock (Pre-IPO, of course), and I'd gladly take a C-level seat to help drive the whole thing to the place where I think it's going to land: at the leading edge of IoT and predictive analytics.

What do you think of Dell and Statsoft's union? Big deal or big mistake? What do you think of my predictions? Talk back and let me know.

*AKA Orangeconeville. If you don't want to know, don't ask — it's a source of a major rant — one of my many favorites.

**It's called Round Rock because of some roundish rock formation in a creek or something. Look it up. I want to know why Little Rock is called Little Rock. I mean, couldn't it have been called Pebbles or Gravel or something just as easily? Not very creative, if you ask me.

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