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Big Blue Gets Smart about Analytics

For a while now, IBM has been shifting their focus from hardware to software, and recently, CFO Mark Loughridge told us that they were investing lost in business analytics. Today, the company announced a very large fruit of that endeavor: the IBM Smart Analytics Cloud. This product is the for IBM clients, and is accompanying the release of Blue Insight, which is an internal product that will be the world’s largest private cloud-computing analytics environment for business analytics.

Predating this release are the recent acquisitions of data analytics company SPSS for $1.2 billion, business analytics firm RedPill, and Canadian business intelligence developer Cognos. In addition, IBM recently performed a Global CIO study and found 83% of respondents were looking to business intelligence and analytics to boost competitiveness.

Blue Insight, the internal offering, will give IBM’s sales and development department (some 200,000 employees) the ability to gather data and information—from customer relationships to demand trends to shipping times—for more efficient decision making to gain further insight at point of sale. One of the most impressive aspects of Blue Insight is its scope: information will come from about 100 different info warehouses that make up more than a petabyte of information—100 times the content of the Library of Congress.

IBM Smart Analytics Cloud will provide customers with the same scalable architecture of Blue Insight, and like its internal sister, will tout many of the Cognos 8 BI tools. Customers will be able to create reports, dashboards, and scorecards for monitoring business performance, and also import data for strategic analysis. And the addition of this vast information source also gives IBM the opportunity to offer an impressive bundle: hardware, software, middleware, and consulting and maintenance services. And the folks at Forbes posit that if IBM adds data mining and real-time analytics, they will strike gold.

IBM’s foray into the software market has been extremely fruitful, and this new product will certainly spark copies from other software companies. It will be interesting to see who else joins the business analytics-cloud race.