Why Use ODBC?
ODBC can be used as a translation engine, facilitating the movement of data between different applications with dissimilar file structures. While most applications have some sort of import file command that performs much the same task as ODBC in this kind of situation, ODBC typically provides a more versatile and in some cases easier to use interface for transferring data between programs.
SAS and SPSS can read a variety of different file types (e.g. Lotus, Excel, dBase, etc.) without having to resort to using ODBC. With ODBC serving as the translation engine, however, you can easily access data files from any application and any version -- as long as the proper ODBC drivers are installed.
Next: Setting up an ODBC Data Source