IBM, BI and acquisitions

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Content Copyright © 2006 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

IBM and Business Objects have just announced a global strategic
alliance. Why is this interesting? Well, there are a variety of
reasons but one in particular relates to Cognos. For some time,
Cognos has been the best placed BI partner of IBM and, as a result,
there has been significant speculation that IBM might acquire

Now, when asked if I thought this was likely (not least by other
analysts) I have consistently said that I thought not. Not because
Cognos does not have excellent products but because this is not the
direction that I believe IBM wants to go in with its BI division.
One of the arguments put to me in favour of such an acquisition was
that IBM has, in fact, had a habit of acquiring those partners with
which it had the closest relationship. This may be true but now
Business Objects is sitting alongside Cognos I think the point may
be clear: IBM values both companies but is unlikely to acquire

The other potential acquisition that has been suggested most
often in the last couple of years has been Informatica. Again, I am
pleased to say that I never thought this likely, in part because I
couldn’t see who might buy them; and now this speculation seems to
have died away, largely because the new management team that the
company brought in some time ago has clearly got the company
focused and moving in a coherent direction.

Other interesting possibilities relate to both Information
Builders (there were rumours about its being acquired by Hyperion
earlier in the year, which I
wrote about
at the time) and SAS. The interesting thing about
both of these companies is that they are private and owned,
essentially, by individuals: Gerry Cohen in the case of Information
Builders and Jim Goodnight at SAS. Now, neither of these is a young
man and there must come a point at which they will choose to retire
or, at least, take more of a back seat: what will happen then? It
is difficult to imagine either company remaining private and a new
board is likely to take the company private or sell it. Still, that
may be some way away yet.

Turning the question of acquisitions around: whatever is
happening to ProClarity? This used to be Microsoft’s main BI
partner until Microsoft bought it earlier this year but now it
appears that the product is going to be killed. It remains
available at present and Microsoft has said that that will remain
the case until all of ProClarity’s capabilities are embedded within
PerformancePoint but that the product will no longer be developed
after that as an independent and stand-alone offering. In other
words it will only be available within the context of
corporate/business performance management and not as a stand-alone
BI capability.