Dell's Statistica: Revamped, Free To College Students - InformationWeek

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11/1/2015
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Dell's Statistica: Revamped, Free To College Students

Dell's Statistica 13 updates the user interface of its advanced analytics software. Now the company is making the software free for US college students and professors.

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It's been a couple of big weeks for Dell's advanced analytics efforts. Last week the company rolled out the newest version of its Statistica software, along with an analytics-as-a-service offering. This week too the company announced that it would offer a free version of Statistica to all US college students and professors.

Dell said it is making the software free to students and professors to help boost interest in and readiness for careers in analytics. John Phillips, Dell's managing director of worldwide education strategy, said that a big driver for the free version is the "dangerous nationwide shortage in professionals with data analytics skills."

The outlook for such careers is good. That skills shortage that Phillips mentioned translates into a golden age for practitioners of data analytics. For instance, a recent report showed data scientist topped the list for best jobs for work/life balance, with salaries averaging about $114,000 annually. Another report, the 2015 Burtch Works study published in April, said median salaries for entry-level data scientists hit $91,000 -- a 14% increase year-over-year.

Dell has been pushing its analytics agenda. When it acquired StatSoft, owner of Statistica, in March 2014, Dell said that advanced analytics are transforming the business landscape. "Organizations that use smart algorithms to harness and learn from the masses of data found in operational systems, social networks, and demographic stores will gain competitive advantage."

[Do you know what data is being collected about you? Read 14 Creepy Ways To Use Big Data.]

Dell's buy of this software led to the company's debut on Gartner's Magic Quadrant for advanced analytics in February, in the same spot where StatSoft used to be in the Challengers' quadrant. Gartner indicted the company excelled at execution, but did not quite meet the same level of vision as those in the Leaders' quadrant -- SAS, IBM, KNIME, and RapidMiner.

In version 13 of Statistica, Dell addressed some of the cautions Gartner expressed in that Magic Quadrant report, such as an outdated, hard-to-use GUI. The new version completely modernizes the user interface and makes it easier to use, Dell said. The company has also added deeper integration with the new Statistica Interactive Visualization and Dashboard Engine to help visually communicate data.

Version 13 also provides tighter integration with open source R for easier sharing and control of R scripts.

In addition, Dell said the new version includes a new stepwise model tool that progressively recommends optimum models for users -- a wizard to help with each step.

Statistica 13 Dashboard screenshot

(Image: Dell)

Statistica 13 Dashboard screenshot

(Image: Dell)

There's also a new native distributed analytics capability that lets users run analytics directly in the database where the data lives. That removes the need for users to first import data to an intermediate server or desktop. The change will enable organizations to fully leverage Hadoop clusters with Statistica, Dell said. Statistica 13's native distributed analytics (NDA) capability will first be available for Microsoft SQL server databases, and additional databases will be added in subsequent releases.

"Statistica version 13 has brought a lot of new capabilities," said Nik Rouda, senior analyst at ESG in a video blog. "It does prettier front ends with visualization -- nice pretty pictures to look at, a better GUI. It also has auto-modeling, and being able to help the data scientist come up with what's the optimal model: What's going to use the right blend of resource, to accuracy, to time, and figuring out what's best for the environment."

The Dell Statistica Free Academic Program provides college students with free access to the software, plus support materials, including a free online statistics textbook, how-to videos, and access to a community of users. The Statistica software package available to students includes the following components: Advanced, Base, Power Analysis, Workspaces, and Graphics & Plots.

Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: ... View Full Bio

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