IBM buys BI company

IBM Corp. added another piece to its ongoing business intelligence initiative on Wednesday, acquiring Alphabox Corp., a small software company in Mountain View, Calif. that specializes in analytics software.

Alphabox’s operations will be melded into IBM’s Information Management Software business with Alphabox’s products being sold through IBM and its network of resellers and business partners, according to IBM officials.

Alphabox software allows users to more effectively embed analytics into their existing business processes, thereby making information available to a wider spectrum of users and applications, company officials explained. The goal of the software is to help corporate IT shops deepen their business insight by being able to access data from across the enterprise and then presenting that information in a customized way.

Driving the deal is the growing demand from IBM’s larger accounts to gain more value existing data and technology assets.

“We see the combination of our products better enabling customers and business partners to deliver business insight and drive higher returns from their information assets,” said Janet Perna, general manager of IBM’s Information Management Software group, in a prepared statement.

IBM will integrate Alphabox’s technology into its middleware portfolio including its Data Warehouse Edition, the WebSphere Business Integration Monitor, the Rational collection of tools, and the WebSphere Portal and IBM Workplace.

IBM has had an overarching strategy centreed around business intelligence for the better part of the past year. One of the goals of that strategy is to deliver technologies capable of marrying the mountains of historical data that Fortune 1000 companies typically have on mainframes with the millions of transactions that occur every day. The hope is that tying this information closer together will result in better analysis of that combined data and therefore more informed business decisions.

Alphabox’s software is compatible with both IBM and non-IBM server-based applications including those of Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Sybase Inc.

Recent market numbers indicate IBM may be justified in its focus on the technology. According to IDC, the overall opportunity for business intelligence will total more than US$7 billion worldwide for 2004, with the market researcher predicting that amount will double by the end of 2006.

The Alphabox acquisition is the 16th by IBM’s US$14 billion software group and the fifth for the company’s DB2 Data Management Division.

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