Quick thoughts on IBM-SPSS

Quick thoughts on the deal. We will have a full report for clients tonight. This is mainly thoughts about the text analytics part and I haven’t had a chance to speak with either company at the time of writing, so bear that in mind.

  • This is long-predicted, by us and many others. I recall a chat with SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight a couple of years ago and he said it me – and I’m slightly paraphrasing –  in so many words, “why doesn’t IBM just buy them, I don’t understand why they haven’t already?” Well IBM finally has, or at least has made the initial move. And for $50 per share or almost $1.2bn.
  • Of course like almost every IBM deal in recent years, the two are partners, IBM signed an OEM deal for the SPSS’ PASW statistics software in Q2 and has had other deals with it going back many years.
  • IBM has text anlaytics tools, of course but they really are just that; tools. It is not a major player in text analytics applications at this juncture. The vast majority of its engagements tend to be very large, custom-based ones and are still few and far between, as far as we can gather, mostly in financial services and telecommunications.
  • SPSS, on the other hand has tools, workbenches and applications and has found  some hot spots in this area, including analyzing customer feedback surveys, in particular the open-ended questions that can provide some of the richest material in such surveys but are often ignored because they’re too manual-intensive to analyze by hand.
  • SAS Institute now has a much bigger analytics competitor. Goodnight didn’t rate SPSS much as a competitor, but IBM? That’s a bit different.
  • SAP-Business Objects must be thinking of making a move too.

More considered thoughts from myself and my fellow 451 analysts later on today.

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