IBM Taps SPSS Analytics Software - InformationWeek

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6/4/2009
04:15 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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IBM Taps SPSS Analytics Software

In a deal that will bolster IBM's ability to bring analytics to the enterprise masses, it was announced yesterday that the IT giant has licensed PASW Statistics software from Chicago-based analytics vendor SPSS.

IBM has been putting a full-court press on analytics in recent months, and it's pretty clear it will do whatever it takes to prevail in a field in which it currently has more depth than breadth. In a deal that will bolster IBM's ability to bring analytics to the enterprise masses, it was announced yesterday that the IT giant has licensed PASW Statistics software from Chicago-based analytics vendor SPSS.

IBM has deep thinkers, promising research and development, hundreds of high-end custom projects under its belt, and more than a score of new analytic applications available. Analytics has become so important a hot button that IBM has also reassigned more than 4,000 consultants from its BI, information management, performance management, content management and enterprise integration practices into a new Business Analytics & Optimization Services practice. (No doubt these folks will be doing much the same sorts of work, but under the banner of analytics.)What IBM has not had (with a couple of minor exceptions) is dedicated analytics tools that it could put into the hands of the many BI and analytics power users out there working for corporations and government agencies. PASW Statistics (formerly SPSS Statistics) is such a tool. It's used to access, manage and analyze various types of data to spot ways to improve customer loyalty, decrease marketing costs, minimizing risk and otherwise improve business performance.

IBM Cognos and SPSS already had a co-selling agreement in place, but the OEM deal will enable IBM to embed and tightly integrate the statistics tools with Congos BI software.

"Previously you could use the products side by side, but you had to transfer the data and the results from one product to the other, which was a cumbersome process at best," says Erick Brethenoux, vice president of corporate development at SPSS. "With the integration, the data-exchange steps are eliminated and you can directly invoke the SPSS application without formatting the data."

The integration is already completed, according to Brethenoux, having been in the works since the initial co-marketing agreement was signed in early 2008. The new OEM arrangement is similar to SPSS's relationship with SAP BusinessObjects, but the latter has licensed PASW Modeler (formerly Clementine) rather than the PASW Statistics module chosen by IBM Cognos.

"SAP is targeting business users rather than data analysts and [BI power users,]" Brenthenoux explains. "The Modeler made sense because we've built a lot of automation into the tool. We were talking to SAP before they acquired BusinessObjects, and they were looking to integrate analytics with their financial applications."

SPSS hopes IBM and SAP will expand their OEM arrangements to additional software over time -- logical steps being for IBM to add PASW Modeler and SAP to add PASW Statistics. In the meantime, the OEM deals give SPSS a foot in the door with IBM Cognos and SAP BusinessObjects customers who might be interested in SPSS's text analytics or model deployment capabilities.

It's surprising and perhaps reassuring for some to know that despite its many acquisitions in recent years, even IBM doesn't have a lock on all the crucial information management and BI technologies out there (a vulnerability also revealed in this week's Informatica acquisition of AddressDoctor, which supplies address validation technology for IBM's Quality Stage product).

At the April unveiling of IBM's Analytics & Optimization practice, I asked Ambuj Goyal, General Manager of IBM's Information Management unit, if and when Big Blue would get around to acquiring SPSS (or, alternatively, SAS) to bolster its analytics drive. His quick answer was "we can't buy everything," but the extended response boiled down to something closer to "never say never."

I've said this before, but if I could develop a predictive model, I'm sure it would indicate a high probability of IBM (or a shrewd rival) acquiring SPSS.In a deal that will bolster IBM's ability to bring analytics to the enterprise masses, it was announced yesterday that the IT giant has licensed PASW Statistics software from Chicago-based analytics vendor SPSS.

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