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IBM Opens Analytics Center In China

Researchers will focus initially on building smart grid applications for country's transportation and utilities industries.

IBM said it launched a new facility in China that will focus on developing software designed to help companies in the People's Republic make better business decisions.

The China Analytics Solution Center is located in IBM's China Business Innovation Center in Beijing, IBM said Monday. It will be initially staffed with 300 software engineers and mathematicians, with plans to add another 300 workers "as demand grows," according to IBM.

To develop products, technical staffers at the center will draw upon a range of disciplines from within IBM, including analytics and optimization, mathematics modeling, software engineering, and architecture research and consulting.

They'll focus initially on building smart grid applications for use in China's domestic transportation and utilities industries.

"Business leaders today need to move beyond intuition to a more predictive capability and certainty about outcomes," said D.C. Chien, CEO for IBM's Chinese operations, in a statement. "It is now possible to see patterns in vast amounts of data to extract critical insights and move to a new level of enterprise intelligence," said Chien.

The announcement comes amid IBM's campaign to push deeper into the business analytics market and challenge industry leader SAS. The company opened its first two analytics labs in Berlin and Tokyo earlier in the summer. It plans to open additional centers in New York, London, and Washington, D.C.

Last month, Big Blue agreed to acquire SPSS Inc., a Chicago-based developer of software that helps companies predict demand environments, market opportunities, pricing trends, and other business conditions.

IBM will pay $50 per share, or about $1.2 billion, to acquire SPSS. It said it expects to close the transaction by year's end. IBM said it would add SPSS's operations to its Information on Demand software unit, which specializes in providing tools that help businesses extract and interpret data from internal and external sources in order to aid decision making.

Industry watcher IDC believes the market for business analytics software is on pace to grow 4% in 2009, to $25 billion.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on IBM's cloud computing strategy. Download the report here (registration required).

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