Forrester: SAP, others will make analytics acquisitions

IBM's acquisition of SPSS is the first wave of a trend driven by a need for deeper insight into future events and unstructured information

IBM's recently announced plans to buy SPSS, maker of specialized analytics software, will result in a wave of further consolidation in the space, according to a new Forrester Research report.

"IBM's acquisition of SPSS marks an industry tipping point. In the advanced analytics segment, the deal is having the same impact that IBM's Cognos buy had on the BI market," Forrester said.

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Advanced analytics software goes beyond the reports and dashboard capabilities of traditional BI (business intelligence) tools, helping users answer questions about future events and explore "what-if" scenarios, as well as pull together and analyze unstructured information from a variety of sources, the report said.

While Oracle, SAP, and other platform companies already have some of these capabilities in their portfolios, IBM's SPSS bid has competitors scrambling for a response, according to Forrester.

In the next year, a range of top BI vendors will either merge, partner or buy up many pure-play analytics vendors, such as KXEN and Angoss, according to Forrester.

Forrester particularly singles out SAP, saying the vendor will make a deal "soon," and could even submit a competitive bid for SPSS. SAP is already planning to buy SAF AG, a German company that makes analytics software aimed at retailers and wholesalers.

An SAP spokesman declined to comment on Forrester's report.

Meanwhile, a major potential acquisition target is SAS Institute, which reported $2.26 billion in sales last year, and has a large portfolio of data mining, predictive analytics, and traditional BI tools.

It's unlikely that SAP would buy SAS because of "a huge overlap" with its own portfolio, but other potential suitors include Hewlett-Packard, EMC, and Oracle, Forrester said.

Even IBM may not be done buying companies, according to Forrester. "There are still plenty of opportunities in the next generation of BI for IBM to go after, such as free-form in-memory analytics (QlikTech), end-to-end BI life-cycle management (Kalido), guided search (Endeca), and many more."

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