SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company that has made analytics its bread and butter, and IBM (NYSE: IBM) are “Double Victors” in a new report that examines the increasingly competitive field of predictive analytics.

In the past month, SAS added two high-profile customers for its analytics suite: The Pittsburgh Pirates and Kelley Blue Book. Among other uses, predictive tools help companies forecast customer behavior and buying decisions, detect and prevent fraud, analyze healthcare trends and treatment effectiveness, and optimizing marketing.

IBM has made analytics a major point of emphasis in recent years, making several acquisitions to boost its market presence.

Earlier this year, research firm Gartner reported that the business intelligence and analytics market had topped $10 billion.

Hurwitz & Associates, a research, consulting and analysis firm based in Massachusetts, cited SAS, which is based in Cary, and IBM’s SPSS group in its first “Victory Index.” StatSoft and Pegasystems also repaed the double honor for performance across a spectrum of categories analyzed for the report. Pitney Bowes and Angoss were “Victors” in one category each. Other firms included in the report were Megaputer Intelligence, Rapid-I, Revolution Analytics, SAP and TIBCO.

Interestingly, in a report earlier this year, research firm Gartner forecast that IBM’s deal for SPSS would increase competition for SAS in the analytics space. (Read details here.)

“Predictive analytics is no longer relegated to statisticians and mathematicians,” the report concluded. “The user profile for predictive analytics has shifted dramatically as the ability to leverage data for competitive advantage has placed business analysts in the driver’s seat.”

SAS was cited for strength of brand and for its suite of solutions while also receiving the top customer satisfaction scores.

“For our inaugural Victory Index report we selected the field of predictive analytics as this has become a key component of a highly competitive company’s analytics arsenal,” said Fern Halper, author of the report. “Companies realize that simply looking in the rear view mirror to gain insight and make decisions is not enough to remain competitive. Our research shows the clear business value of this technology and highlights the great potential for continuing innovation and market growth in this space.”

Hurwitz describes predictive analytics as: “A statistical or data mining solution consisting of algorithms and techniques which can be used on both structured and unstructured data (together or individually) to determine future outcomes. It can be deployed for prediction, optimization, forecasting, simulation, and many other uses.”

The report focused on four areas: vision, viability, validity and value with an emphasis not on just technology but a firm’s “ability to provide tangible value.”

“Predictive analytics has become a key component of a highly competitive company’s analytics arsenal,” Halper wrote in a blog about the report.

“For the Victory Index we examined more than fifty attributes including: customer satisfaction, value/price, time to value, technical value, breadth and depth of functionality, customer adoption, financial viability, company vitality, strength of intellectual capital, business value, ROI, and clarity and practicality of strategy and vision,” she added. “We also examine important trends in the predictive analytics market as part of the report and provide detailed overviews of vendor offerings in the space.”

Hurwitz focuses on emerging technologies such as cloud computing as well as information management.

For a free excerpt of the report, read here.

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