RealTime IT News

IBM Gets Smarter with Buy

With a mind toward adding real-time analytical capabilities to its software line, IBM agreed to acquire privately held Alphablox for an undisclosed sum.

Alphablox makes software that allows customers to add analytics features that scrutinize information such as customer buying trends, company inventory and employee performance.

Viewed through a dashboard, the information is then rendered in a series of custom charts or graphs that are made available over the Internet to users with network access to help shape business processes.

In keeping with IBM's goal for enabling an on-demand e-business, developers will use the Alphablox technology to write business applications that render multiple views of real-time information from several data sources.

Analytics software is a subsection of the burgeoning business intelligence market, which experienced a lot of consolidation in 2003 and is worth more than $7 billion worldwide, according to research from IDC. That figure is expected to double in two years if current growth trends and the demand for detailed business information keep up.

IBM spokesperson Lori Bosio said that Alphablox's operations will be integrated into its Information Management software business to bolster its business intelligence platform. This suite allows business partners to deliver specialized reporting on enterprise resource planning (ERP), data warehousing and compliance to customers.

Bosio said Alphablox and IBM software will work together to allow managers to make faster decisions regarding business strategies and plans. For example, a manager can view current sales figures or be alerted to inventory dips or demand spikes and adjust to the changes on the fly.

Specifically, Alphablox software will be added to IBM's Data Warehouse Edition, WebSphere Business Integration Monitor IBM's Rational toolset and WebSphere Portal and IBM Workplace for the desktop.

In addition to helping drive IBM's on-demand mold, Alphablox software was attractive to IBM, because it works with products from several vendors, including Oracle, Microsoft and Sybase. The belief is that several choices show that a company is not prone to vendor lock-in, which customers dread.

The deal, IBM's 16th software buy since 2001, is expected to close at the end of July.

Last July, business intelligence purchases with a focus on reporting software were all the rage. Business Objects bought Crystal Decisions, Hyperion snapped up Brio Software and Actuate acquired Nimble Technology, all within two weeks. IBM employs reporting technology from partner Cognos.

Microsoft has even entered the business intelligence game, offering SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services and later adding ad-hoc reporting features to it by buying start-up ActiveViews.