One of the wonderful things about IBM SPSS Statistics is its ubiquity. I realise that it is not a household name in the way that big consumer brands are, but if you have ever had the need to analyse data, either professionally, in an academic context or in the public realm, the chances are that you have stumbled across and used SPSS Statistics.
SPSS Statistics is a remarkably widely used software application and it is probably one of the oldest commercial software products, while still acquiring significant numbers of new users today. The first punch card versions were available for academics and political researchers as far back as 1966. Indeed, we blogged about the 50th anniversary of SPSS a few years ago. For my own part, I first used a mainframe and command line version of SPSS in 1990 (ageing myself somewhat with that admission!).
Over the years, SPSS has moved on enormously in terms of functionality, ease of use and general accessibility. That said, it has always required a reasonably significant investment of money to access licenses for non-academic use. As such, extensive use has mostly remained the preserve of established businesses with commensurate funding. However a new era of SPSS licencing is now dawning and there are now a number of significantly more flexible options for accessing the software including a monthly subscription model.
That may sound like a grand introduction to what is, essentially, a slight revision in the way SPSS Statistics can be purchased. But I believe the grandeur is warranted. The subscription licence model brings with it a flexibility which opens up the use of SPSS to many who might previously have struggled with the upfront costs. The subscription licence allows you to rent SPSS Statistics a month by month basis rather than committing to the alternative annual contract options. As with the existing licence formats, SPSS Base (the core software component) can be rented on its own, or else additional modules can be rented to meet your specific analytical needs.
To follow are 5 trends that we are already seeing with the advent of the short commitment, relatively low cost licensing options of the SPSS subscription offering:
- Short term project work – If your organisation provides analytical and data science services as part of some projects but not others, it is not always practical or economically optimal to maintain an ongoing license and support contract for SPSS. Whilst the benefit of having the latest versions of SPSS and an active support contract with a support providing business partner such as Smart Vision Europe is important for compliance and credibility, it can be a luxury if the license is not fully utilised. An SPSS subscription takes this headache away, enabling you to rent SPSS, with many of the add on modules available, on a rolling 30 day basis.
- Scale up fast, scale down fast – We work with a lot of quite large and established bureau and service agencies that deliver analytics-focused projects for their clients. These companies have expertise and existing investment in SPSS and data science tools. The challenge here is that the size, shape, scope and volume of projects can vary quite dramatically over time. When project demand scales up our clients can use more flexible licensing to quickly scale up software licenses to meet that demand. As and when that demand alters again, SPSS license provision can adapt accordingly. They only ever pay for what they need.
- Small businesses providing niche expertise – At the other end of the company size spectrum, there are a great many micro and one person companies providing specialised analytical services to their clients on an ad hoc basis. Short term SPSS licensing is a real boon if this is where you operate. An SPSS subscription enables affordable investment in the best tools for the job.
- Risk management – an SPSS subscription is also a great way to introduce SPSS and data science into your organisation, without having to convince budget holders to make a more significant investment. A monthly subscription allows analytical specialists and teams to license for a short term period, demonstrate the value tools like SPSS bring, then use the results of these initial projects to warrant a longer term commitment and the economies of scale that can bring.
- Students’ home working – Students will have access to academic licences of SPSS Statistics via their place of study which means they can use the software freely to support their education. That said, there are occasions when a student’s need for SPSS access occurs out of the range of the academic site licence. In those cases the SPSS Subscription licence can be a useful short term go to.
Once you are up and running with whichever licence type best suits your needs, Smart Vision Europe Ltd offers a well-stocked online training catalogue as well as many free resources designed to help you get more out of your SPSS software. Providing this benefits both our clients and us. By learning how to get more out of the software in which they have invested, clients can achieve more from their analytics projects, and as they start to achieve more they often approach us about expanding the licences they own and investing in more SPSS software. It’s win win.