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A “Sweet” Prediction for Big Blue

May 14, 2012 | By Mark Levinson

Big Blue just keeps growing. On April 13, IBM announced an agreement to acquire Varicent Software, a privately held Toronto-based provider of compensation analytics and sales performance management software.

Big Blue just keeps growing. On April 13, IBM announced an agreement to acquire Varicent Software, a privately held Toronto-based provider of compensation analytics and sales performance management software. This is an interesting move by the global IT powerhouse, prompting me to gaze into my crystal ball to make a prediction on where IBM may be headed next.

For context, let’s start with a brief acquisition recap. In 2007, IBM acquired Cognos, a business intelligence (BI) tool. In 2009, Big Blue bought SPSS, adding predictive analytics to its very impressive arsenal. And in 2010, both Sterling Commerce (configuration, pricing and quoting application) and Unica (marketing automation platform) were acquired. I’ve focused on these acquisitions because they all lead me to a theory: Is IBM building a sales application toolkit?

If you think about the core tools that sales organizations need to bring efficiency into their organizations to drive sales productivity, you get the above list – with one missing piece: There’s no sales force automation (SFA) platform. The question of whether IBM was looking to get in the SFA game was actually asked back in 2010, following the Unica acquisition, and IBM rejected the notion.

However, fast forward to 2012: IBM walks away from its long-standing relationship with Oracle’s Siebel platform and decides to implement SugarCRM. Interesting? Very. OK, I’m not going to sugarcoat this prediction: SugarCRM may be the next company on Big Blue’s radar. It certainly makes sense.

Mark Levinson

Mark Levinson is Vice President and Group Director of Sales and Channel Services at SiriusDecisions. Mark’s nearly 20 years of experience includes a wide variety of sales operations issues including strategic planning, territory optimization, compensation plans, account management, sales tools and sales analytics. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBLevinson.