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SPSS Modeler: IBM Watson Studio’s Best Friend

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Last month, we talked about IBM’s SPSS Statistics Package. But there’s more to the SPSS package than statistics. Wait till you see what SPSS Modeler has in store for you.  

Once you have IBM Watson Studio, are you all set?

The answer, of course, is that with IBM you’re never “all set.” There’s always one more product you can get to make your life complete. And that one product is SPSS Modeler, aka SPSS Software, depending on what IBM website you see. Yep, IBM really has a problem remembering what the names of their products are. Thank goodness I’m here to help you.

SPSS Modeler: What Is It?

What’s SPSS Modeler? I can only repeat what’s on the IBM website: The IBM SPSS software platform offers advanced statistical analysis, a vast library of machine-learning algorithms, text analysis, open-source extensibility, integration with big data and seamless deployment into applications. Its ease of use, flexibility and scalability make SPSS accessible to users with all skill levels and outfits projects of all sizes and complexity to help you and your organization find new opportunities, improve efficiency and minimize risk.

Or, in normal English, AI is not just about setting up a model, training it on a set of data, and then running it on another set of data to see what the predictions are. Maybe the most important step is to analyze the predictions that we create and see how close they come to reality. This is typically done via some sort of statistical package. SPSS Statistics does part of this, but the setup, the processing, and especially the scaling of that solution depends on very special software.

And that is what SPSS Modeler provides.

More Detail

What is really nice is that, if you order today, you also have the opportunity, for a completely separate price, to order the SPSS Modeler Package Studio.  

The Modeler Package fits in nicely with Watson Studio and can be ordered with it (it’s part of the subscription for Studio, actually).

The only problem with Modeler is that I’m not completely sure what it does. I asked IBM and got more of a marketing than a practical answer. For the SPSS Statistics package, the answer was pretty straightforward: It’s for statistical analysis (without having to do Python or R per se and using Pandas). OK, I get that.

The answer for what Modeler is, however, was “SPSS Modeler is a leading visual data science and machine-learning solution. It helps enterprises accelerate time to value and achieve desired outcomes by speeding up operational tasks for data scientists.”

I’m not sure what that means, and I’m curious what your interpretation is. I asked if that meant I could choose a specific model (like Random Forest or Naïve Bayes) and then use that with Watson Studio, but I didn’t get an answer on that.

I tried contacting someone a bit more technical than the sales chat person, but I didn’t get a reply to my inquiry.

I could have taken the free product tour, but that would require me to identify myself to IBM and frankly I have enough problems with my identity and the government as it is.

But it is available. And, of course, you can try all of these products for free from the same link as above.

I guess I have to believe it does something like letting you select a model and inject it into Watson Studio, but I’m not sure. Whatever it does, I’m sure it remains true to the IBM approach of making it more point-and-click than using a Python or R library. The problem for me is that many of these products, if I look at the IBM site verbiage, seem to do the same thing (prepare data, allow you to run it against the model, analyze the results), so it’s hard to see exactly what you get from each specific item.

Hmmm, it seems like I have some concerns about IBM Watson, so this may be the last article I’ll write about it.


As you might expect, pricing is very straightforward. I know, even for me it’s hard to say those words with a straight face.

If you look at the pricing for SPSS Modeler, there are three plans: 30-day free trial, Standard, and Premium Gold. Prices for Premium Gold are secret, so you have to contact IBM to get them. Standard starts at $499 per month per user, and you can buy that for Mac or Windows online. What’s interesting is that Standard includes both Modeler and the Watson Studio.

However, if you look at the pricing for Watson Studio, we see also three plans. The first is for a cloud version of Studio, which starts at $99 per user per month. This doesn’t include Modeler. It’s pay as you go (as a service), so the $99 is a base figure. The second Studio plan is $499 per month per user, and it includes Modeler. In fact, the terms state that all active Studio accounts will include Modeler. So there is some consistency. From this Desktop version, you can either deploy locally or use the cloud. The final plan is local only, provides for cluster implementation, and requires you to get a price quote from IBM.

And This Means What?

It seems like no matter how you slice it, if you buy the Watson Studio desktop, you get the SPSS Modeler (SPSS Statistics is separate; remember, there are two products here). And vice versa. So, even though I don’t know where the actual dividing line is between the two, it really doesn’t matter because they come as a pair.

That’s the story…and I’m sticking with it.

David Shirey

David Shirey is president of Shirey Consulting Services, providing technical and business consulting services for the IBM i world. Among the services provided are IBM i technical support, including application design and programming services, ERP installation and support, and EDI setup and maintenance. With experience in a wide range of industries (food and beverage to electronics to hard manufacturing to drugs--the legal kind--to medical devices to fulfillment houses) and a wide range of business sizes served (from very large, like Fresh Express, to much smaller, like Labconco), SCS has the knowledge and experience to assist with your technical or business issues. You may contact Dave by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (616) 304-2466.

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