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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
to the tune of $1.2 billion and application security testing company Ounce
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?