IBM has signed a $1.2bn deal to acquire Chicago-based predictive analytics software company SPSS.
Analysts said the acquisition will benefit end-user organisations by creating greater competition to the advanced analytics market, challenging SAS Institute's dominant position.
"As the only mega supplier with its own advanced analytics and predictive modelling, SAS has been able to charge a premium," said Dan Sommer, research analyst at Gartner.
The move will also challenge SAP and Oracle, which have built their predictive modelling strategies around partnerships with SPSS.
"The partnerships are unlikely to end immediately, but they will be much more vulnerable when SPSS is under IBM," said Sommer.
IBM customers will benefit from much deeper integration between SPSS technologies than former partners, he said.
IBM said in a statement it is increasing its focus on business analytics technology to meet customer needs to cut costs, reduce risk and raise profits.
"The ability to forecast future trends and spot shifts in consumer patterns or behaviour even before they occur can give businesses a competitive advantage," IBM said.
IDC estimates that the worldwide market for business analytics software will grow to $25bn this year as businesses attempt to cut costs and use resources more effectively.
The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2009, subject to approval by SPSS shareholders and US regulatory authorities.