IBM is acquiring SPSS. My initial thoughts (questions by Eric Lai of Computerworld) include:
1) good buy for IBM? why or why not?
Yes. The integration of predictive analytics with other analytic or operational technologies is still ahead of us, so there was a lot of value to be gained from SPSS beyond what it had standalone. (That said, I haven't actually looked at the numbers, so I have no comment on the price.)
By the way, SPSS coined the phrase "predictive analytics," with the rest of the industry then coming around to use it. As with all successful marketing phrases, it's somewhat misleading, in that it's not wholly focused on prediction.
2) how does it position IBM vs. competitors?IBM's ownership immediately makes SPSS a stronger competitor to SAS. Any advantage to the rest of IBM depends on the integration roadmap and execution.
3) How does this particularly affect SAP and SAS and Oracle, IBM's closest competitors by revenue according to IDC's figures?
If one of Oracle or SAP had bought SPSS, it would have given them a competitive advantage against the other, in the integration of predictive analytics with packaged operational apps. That's a missed opportunity for each.
One notable point is that SPSS is more SQL-oriented than SAS. Thus, SPSS has gotten performance benefits from Oracle's in-database data mining technology that SAS apparently hasn't.
IBM's done a good job of keeping its acquired products working well with Oracle and other competitive DBMS in the past, and SPSS will surely be no exception.
Obviously, if IBM does a good job of Cognos/SPSS integration, that's bad for competitors, starting with Oracle and SAP/Business Objects. So far business intelligence/predictive analytics integration has been pretty minor, because nobody's figured out how to do it right, but some day that will change. Hmm - I feel another "Future of … " post coming on.
4) Do you predict further M&A?