September 11, 2013

SAP is buying KXEN

First, some quick history.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that KXEN is the second coming of Crystal Reports. Most of what I heard about KXEN’s partnership chops, after Roman’s original heads-up, came from Teradata. Even KXEN itself didn’t seem to see that as a major part of their strategy.

And by the way, KXEN is yet another example of my observation that fancy math rarely drives great enterprise software success.

KXEN’s most recent strategies are perhaps best described by contrasting it to the vastly larger SAS. 

That all sounds a bit like a disruption narrative, but KXEN CEO John Ball never gave me the impression he thought strongly in those terms. And indeed KXEN never disrupted much of anything.

So what will SAP do with KXEN?  Integrating predictive modeling and business intelligence is both important and difficult. So I imagine they’ll try, but I won’t hold my breath for great short-term success.

The bigger win could come on the application side. I’m skeptical about “analytic applications”, because it’s so tough to build complete ones. But let’s imagine an application that had elements of:

That would seem more plausible, because it allows the analytic aspects to be smaller and more circumscribed.

As for which specific application areas could use predictive components, the usual suspects are:

I imagine SAP will start trying to integrate KXEN in some of those areas.


5 Responses to “SAP is buying KXEN”

  1. SAP Buys KXEN | Building The Analytic Enterprise on September 12th, 2013 8:50 am

    […]   Several analysts have commented on SAP’s move, including Curt Monash.  Monash correctly distinguishes between analytic programming languages (such as SAS or R) and […]

  2. Thomas W. Dinsmore on September 12th, 2013 9:04 am

    Excellent summary. More than a year ago I expressed skepticism about KXEN’s future in these comments. My point then was that KXEN’s value prop was muddled — there are few buyers for black box analytics because the analyst types want some control over the process, while the executives don’t care about analytics per se, but want business solutions.

    KXEN’s technology made some sense when they partnered up with solution providers, but enterprise players have rapidly gobbled up prospective partners — Adobe’s acquisition of Neolane being the latest.

    Adding KXEN”s tooling to SAP’s existing Marketing Campaign Management tooling simply combines two dogs. In that space, SAP trails so badly they are challenged by the likes of Alterian and SmartFocus.

    There is zero chance that adding KXEN to its existing capabilities makes SAP a player in Fraud. They aren’t on anyone’s dashboard.

  3. SAP Cloud for Social on September 23rd, 2013 1:03 pm

    KXEN may probably be a good addition to SAP with the recent strategies KXEN has implemented. Thanks for the post.

  4. What matters in investigative analytics? | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on October 6th, 2013 8:10 am

    […] an obvious demand for agile predictive analytics. But if agility were all that mattered, KXEN — which excels in agility — would probably have done a lot better; KXEN’s problem […]

  5. Notes on predictive modeling, October 10, 2014 | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 28th, 2014 2:11 pm

    […] had my first meeting with them this week. To a first approximation, they’re somewhat like KXEN (sophisticated math, non-linear models, ease of modeling, quasi-automagic feature selection), but […]

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