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Tibco on The Spotfire

Tibco  is looking to make its software a little smarter. The company agreed to purchase business intelligence software startup Spotfire for $195 million in cash.

The bid, announced at Tibco's Tucon user conference in San Francisco today, will add predictive analytics to Tibco's infrastructure software portfolio, which has been retrenched to accommodate legacy and modern applications via service-oriented architecture (SOA)  and business process management (BPM) .

Spotfire, a privately held company based in Somerville, Mass., makes the Enterprise Analytic platform, which has been designed to give business managers who are not necessarily tech savvy accurate and incisive insight into their business processes.

Tibco said Spotfire's platform allows users to ask and answer "virtually unconstrained questions" about their business.

Tibco Chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadivé said on a conference call the trend in analytics is moving from software that analyzes the past to predicting future business processes. Ranadivé also said the deal will help Tibco appeal to a broader set of customers looking for more insight into their data.

Spotfire CEO Christopher Ahlberg added that his company's technology is designed to meet the complex requirements of today's Web 2.0 technologies by sifting through technically diverse environments to bring data to users in a "rich, visual and highly interactive experience."

For example, Spotfire's Enterprise Analytic platform employs 3-D ad-hoc querying to give users a holistic view of their business.

Tibco, which competes with IBM , Oracle , Software AG and others in the SOA and BPM software space, will also inherit Spotfire's 800 customers. These include ABN AMRO, AMD, Chevron and Pfizer.

The acquisition will close in Tibco's third fiscal quarter. Tibco plans to retain the Spotfire brand and operate Spotfire as a business unit within Tibco to be led by Ahlberg.

Acquisitions of BI vendors by non-BI vendors is rare, but not shocking when one considers the growing convergence of BI with BPM software in the industry.

In the BI-BPM convergence, the goal is to make the information that is relevant to a specific business process available in the right context and in real time.

According to a Forrester Research report from June 2006, "in most circumstances, business processes determine the context for information, and yet the BI act on processes.

"These two separate technology areas, BI and BPM, complement each other and will converge over the next three to five years, exploiting the evolving information workplace, which will be used to deliver the information and process."