Jul 30, 2009 (04:07 AM EDT)
Global CIO: IBM's Game-Changing Plunge Into Predictive Analytics

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When IBM agreed two days ago to acquire predictive-analytics specialist SPSS, it marked the 27th acquisition IBM has made in the broadly defined sector of BI and analytics. Ho-hum, just another deal for the highly acquisitive IBM, right?

Well, as the kids like to say, not so much.

I think IBM's acquisition of SPSS will mark a seminal moment in that company's evolution, and that it will also accelerate -- perhaps even greatly accelerate -- the broader evolution of the IT industry from one fixated on boxes and code that run internal operations to one that's focused on providing insight and expertise that helps customers grow. It's going to force IT companies of all stripes to stop spending way too much of their time thinking about the transaction that occurs when they make a sale and instead begin concentrating on driving interactions for customers.

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Yeah yeah yeah, I know, every company does this already -- they all sell solutions, not products. Their joint motto is win-win. The customer's happiness is more important than their own quarterly performance against quotas. Riiight.

But back here on Planet Earth, the days of IT as efficiency machine and of CIO as efficiency expert are winding rapidly to a close. The primacy of being able to generate history lessons more quickly than ever before is waning. The expectation that it's sufficient for IT systems to serve as fairly passive repositories of what has already happened is being extinguished.

And IBM's acquisition of SPSS is the big straw stirring that very potent drink, as my insightful colleague Mary Hayes Weier points out in her news analysis of the acquisition.

Look at this comment from IBM general manager for Information Management Ambuj Goyal: "With this acquisition, we are extending our capabilities around a new level of analytics that not only provides clients with greater insight -- but true foresight." If IBM and its new SPSS infusion can hold up their end of that promise, they will truly reset the bar for how the IT game is played. Here are eight reasons why: