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IBM has agreed to plunk down $1.2 billion to acquire SPSS, a maker of predictive analytics software and solutions based in Chicago.

IBM says the all-cash deal, still subject to regulatory approval, to acquire SPSS will broaden its existing Information on Demand (IOD) software family and expand its range of analytics capabilities and offerings.

The thrust behind IBM’s IOD portfolio is to drive solutions that help end customers – through their solution provider partners in many cases – turn data and other information into a strategic asset. The theory being that greater visibility into such things as customer buying habits, credit histories, crime patterns and other data will enable companies to predict future trends and to adapt their products and services to accommodate, according to IBM.

“Predictive analytics can help clients move beyond the ‘sense and respond’ mode, which can leave blind spots for strategic information in today’s fast paced environment — to ‘predict and act’ for improved business outcomes,” said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM Software Group’s Information Management division.

At the outset, IBM will continue to support SPSS’ products and solutions as they are today, but will also pair IBM products that work in concert to create more robust solutions. Predictive analytics is a cornerstone to IBM’s work on smarter business systems that aim to tackle the complexity companies face as they experience a massive proliferation of data, IBM said.