IBM Acquires Tealeaf, Continuing B.I. Buying Spree

Tealeaf's software lets e-commerce workers analyze customer interactions on a granular level.

IBM is continuing to snatch up business-intelligence companies, announcing May 2 that it would acquire Tealeaf Technology, Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition, which both companies announced would close in the second quarter of 2012, will give IBM additional analytics capabilities for marketing and e-commerce professionals, including real-time and automated insights into online customers’ purchasing habits. Those insights will apparently extend to online purchases made via mobile devices, in addition to PCs.

“With these new capabilities from Tealeaf,” Craig Hayman, IBM’s general manager of industry solutions, wrote in a May 2 statement, “we can not only provide chief marketing officers and other marketing leaders the qualitative insights into how customers actually experience their brands, but show them how to react in real time across marketing, sales and service.”

On a more granular level, Tealeaf’s software will let those professionals examine instances and scenarios related to purchasing experiences. If customers are leaving an e-commerce Website without buying a product because they find the interface confusing, for example, the software can help determine the exact cause. That ability to drill down into patterns and issues can potentially save companies a lot of time, money, and overly emotional boardroom meetings.

“Tealeaf’s patented technology can be deployed into a business’s current environment with no needed modifications so they begin capturing customer data and delivering optimal experiences immediately,” Rebecca Ward, Tealeaf’s chairperson and CEO, wrote in a May 2 statement. The company’s clients include Dell, Crate & Barrel, Best Buy, and Expedia.

Tealeaf marks IBM’s second business-intelligence acquisition in as many weeks. On April 25, Big Blue announced the purchase of Vivisimo, an analytics firm specializing in data-discovery automation. Vivisimo’s technology will be incorporated into IBM’s Big Data platform, which is based on open-source Apache Hadoop.

IBM faces increasingly fierce competition in the business-intelligence space, with SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and a host of smaller companies all scrambling for a piece of an expanding market. “IT continues to spend and earmark money to B.I., despite constrained budgetary environments,” Dan Sommer, principal analyst at Gartner, wrote in an April research note. “Gartner’s CIO survey showed that analytics and B.I. is the No. 1 technology priority for CIOs in 2012.”

Gartner’s data suggested that organizations are most interested in analytic applications and performance management, followed by B.I. platform and CPM suites. Whatever their preference, their willingness to spend could drive B.I. vendors to look for still more companies to acquire in coming months.