What does IBM’s acquisition of SPSS mean?
THIS VERSION: RE_WRITTEN 7th April 2011
IBM acquired SPSS in the peak of the summer of 2009; I was in Provence. (IBM SPSS PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT) That deal was largely credited as a trigger for the SAP consideration of acquiring TIBCO and the on-consequent of TIBCO's acquisition of (the very wonderful) Data Synapse!
Dont forget that IBM had acquired COGNOS for FIVE BILLION DOLLARS (all cash) at the end of '07 in the parallel universe BI consolidation herd-instinct rush of that winter which (arguably) was topped in the 3D chess-move response by SAP when it acquired Business Objects for AN ALMOST IDENTICAL AMOUNT in the same period.
BO had a lot more clever stuff in my view than COGNOS & I think that is borne out in the period since! But what BOTH mega-vendors missed was "Large Data Sets" & "Predictive Analytics" not the rear view mirror of Business Objects OR Cognos
SAP buying Tibco would clearly be a deal to compete against IBM in middleware - but the IBM / SPSS deal doesn't drive SAP to buy TIBCO, does it?, you don't pay $1.5bn to acquire Tibco in order to acquire S+, which TIBCO paid only $25m for in 2008, when they acquired Insightfull (which was a disastrously low price) But effectively that is what IBM did, they paid roughly the SAP/Tibco number for the SPSS "pandora's box" which in my view is a box of tricks a lot smaller than that of TIBCO, a lot less functional. Is it not interesting that in both big corporate BI deals the number which either IBM or SAP pay is similar, its almost as if the acquisition target PRICE is an independent variable, which is not as one would expect is it? TIBCO then integrated Insightful into Spotfire which makes that whole greater than the sum, particularly in regard to visualization. IBM are going to do the same with SPSS as TBCO did with IFUL. It may be a harder job integrating SPSS with the IBM BI and supporting portfolio but there also the question one asks of SPSS ......
I think the real logic for the IBM / SPSS tie up is to do what TIBCO did with IFUL and SPOTFIRE, to copy that model. SPSS is old fashioned very limited product, with a long history of which I will not bore you BUT if IBM can do what it says is the purpose of the acquisition and effectively refresh SPSS then it could be on a winner, it has taken IBM an awful long time in my view to realise that a sexy dashboard which is a rear view mirror is about as much use as a "chocolate fireguard" in these recessionary and highly supervised times (as it has SAP of course!). IBM has a plethora of data mining and Predictive Analytic toolsets in its BAO stable now, ILOG BRMS, OmniFind, etc etc all to be offered alongside the InfoSphere Product/Concept, call it what it what you like BUT AS IBM state; SPSS will become part of the Information Management division within the Software Group business unit.
Thus the real opportunity for IBM is to traction the SPSS acquisition (in the Banking and Insurance Supervision space, which is my focus) with the InfoSphere platform and do what it says it is going to do with the IBM Smart Analytics strategy; i.e. IBM said it will release by year's end technology it calls an Analytics Optimizer, which combines hardware and software to perform even faster analytic queries.