Tools vs a Tool Chest of Tools

Back in the day when I owned free-standing homes, I used to go to Lowes or Home Depot probably twice a week. Buying a condo where most of the maintenance is provided was the smartest thing my wife and I did. It cut my Home Depot visits down to maybe once a month and freed up my time to pursue and work on other tasks.

What made me think about this was a conversation thread where two “quants” were arguing over which software products they use. The were extremely specific about the problem they were trying to solve, and one referred to his search as looking for the best tool. That statement made me think about Home Depot, which got me to wondering… are analytical software products best viewed as independent tools or a tool chest loaded with “tools”?

It depends on the software provider and how they look at the market. I think most analytical software providers view the customer as someone who is only interested in a basic set of tools and beyond that will purchase additional tools at an additional price. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule here. Some customers are only looking to solve a problem such as a forecasting problem. They are only interested in a package that forecasts.

Other customers look at the breadth of the toolkit and are interested in applying the tools in the tool chest to other analytic problems. For example, WPS comes quite complete with a well-rounded set of tools for handling data collection, data acquisition, ETL, reporting and many of the more advanced statistical tasks. WPS tends to include all the tools in one package and is priced with heavy discounts when compared to other providers.

Our competitor on the other hand views the customer as one who should buy each tool set individually. If you want graphics, you buy the graphics package. If you want more statistically oriented procedures, you then must buy the statistics tool set. If you want to access data in a database, then you need to buy a specific tool for accessing that data.

This is one aspect that distinguishes WPS from its competitor, SAS. SAS makes sure that you pay for each tool set individually and strives to optimize the tool sets so that you must purchase multiple tool sets to do a task. Of course, this costs you a lot of money.

This practice also has another negative and that is it retards your ability to apply analytical tools to your specific problem. Many of us in the BI space are problem solvers. We are assigned a task to solve and set out to solve the problem. How often have you found the situation where the tool or library that you want, or need is not available? It’s one of these issues that profoundly impacts our ability to completes assignments in a timely fashion and within budget.

When you license WPS on a Windows or OS X Workstation or on a Windows or Linux Server the library modules and database engines that are included with the current release (v3.3) are:


If you are a small business or a startup, purchasing analytical software piecemeal is a costly headache. It is not start up or small business friendly and is designed to gouge the customer as much as possible when cash flow is a precious asset.


Which brings us to the practice of charging extremely high initial fees to acquire the software and then offering discounts for “maintenance” after the first year. I’ll go into more specifics about pricing along with real world examples in another blog post, but suffice to say, this is another excuse for the practice of gouging the customer. The argument that is often used for sustaining this practice is that the cost of bringing on the customer for the first year must include the substantial cost of support. I’m going to lay it on the line and call this a myth. It is not reality and is simply an argument set forth to price the software at the very highest levels.

Seriously, what is the added cost? The software provider still has to provide documentation to existing customers and that is in electronic format. It is the exact same documentation for new customers. So, the cost is the same.

Shipping the software is almost always done by digital download. It is the same downloaded software for existing customers as for new customers. Hence, the cost is the same.

It is well known that our competitor is very difficult to do business with. Even they know it but I’m willing to bet that the sales and marketing culture at that place is so ingrained that it cannot change.


When you and your organization are looking to add new licenses, reduce annual cost and be able to provide your employees with a tool chest that can solve a whole host of problems without having to go back to purchasing for a new acquisition, then WPS is easily the product for you.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS consulting and contract programming services and is an authorized reseller of WPS in North America.