IBM wants companies to predict the future

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IBM has thrown its full weight behind business analytics, placing its bet that it will be the next big enterprise software trend by unveiling new products.

The company's Information on Demand (IOD) conference in Las Vegas saw it continue its big push into business intelligence and analytics software.

IBM has spent $12 billion creating a new analytics portfolio, including $1.2 billion acquiring analytics company SPSS.

IBM sees business analytics as an extension of business intelligence (BI). Rather than just BI's reporting and slicing and dicing analysis, IBM's business analytics software should allow companies to look into the future by predicting future outcomes using existing data trends.

The company also announced an aggressive expansion of its multi-billion dollar investment in business analytics.

This involved new analytics software for sales, talent management and procurement, as well as content analysis software to analyse emails and blogs, and stream computing technology to make sense of data warehouse information in real time.

In an interview with IT PRO, IBM information management chief technology officer Anant Jhingran said although BI had been very useful, taking it further with business analytics allowed companies to make predictions at the point of contact and transaction.

"We want to predict customer behaviour. If we can do that, we can apply all the analysis in the context of the transactions," he said. "We know that the number of transactions is very, very large, and if we can get just one per cent lift in respect to that, it can make a big difference."

"That is a shift that we want to achieve through prediction," Jhingran added. "That's why we acquired SPSS, whose main capability was to predict in context. Of course you can analyse historic things, but prediction is the thing we're really focusing on."