Lessons from IBM's Shopping SpreeBy Carolyn April | Posted 2009-07-28 Email Print
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The willingness to invest during tough economic times is smart business and provides a lesson for the broader channel. But you must invest in the right places for the commitment of dollars and resources to make sense.
Recession, what recession? Never one to shy away from shopping, IBM’s Software Group went on a buying spree this week, scooping up analytics provider SPSS to the tune of $1.2 billion and application security testing company Ounce Labs for an undisclosed sum.
The willingness to invest during tough economic times is smart business and provides a lesson for the broader channel. But you must invest in the right places for the commitment of dollars and resources to make sense. Let's consider IBM’s two acquisitions, which make sense because they map directly to hot spots in the market today.
Predictive analytics, the specialty of publicly held SPSS, provides foresight that allows customers to operate their businesses more efficiently with spot-on information about behaviors, patterns and trends. Those capabilities add up to cost-savings, more accurate resource allocation, faster ROI and the ability to one-up the competition. The SPSS solutions, which will become part of IBM’s Information Management group, are an example of technology that serves a direct business purpose. For solution providers, this provides a compelling message to take to customers: Forget speeds, feeds, bells and whistles and sell the customer with a business case that furthers their core mission.
The Ounce Labs acquisition is notable because it addresses what the industry has talked about for ages as part of the overall security discussion: securing data at the application level. Testing and remediating data security problems during the software development phase, which Ounce’s tools enable you to do, saves money and avoids more serious security implications that could arise once an application is deployed. It’s an organic approach heralded by many security experts as the most effective way to thwart malicious attacks.
IBM isn’t the only major technology player continuing to invest during tough times. Oracle went out on a limb to buy Sun Microsystems, and Dell, for its part, has stated it will continue a spate of smaller acquisitions over the next year. But Big Blue’s actions underscore a point that every company in the channel today should think about. And that’s this: Don’t simply tread water waiting for the recession to end. Smart companies that continue to invest strategically—be it in the form of acquisitions, marketing spend, hiring or training—position their organizations to thrive when things turn around.
It’s clear why. Continuing to market your business will keep your name and brand in front of customers, who while not buying today, will be again at some point in next 12 months. Make sure your company will stand out from among those that instead decided to pull down the shades and wait for economic daylight.
The same goes for investments, especially if your company is considering entering a new market or new technology area. Now is the time to accumulate the resources now and lay the groundwork to launch immediately when times improve. Caution is a good thing, but too much of it can put your business at a disadvantage down the road.
How has the recession impacted your investment strategy?