Optimizing data and cash are significant mandates for tier one institutions, as banks weather the remaining recession and position for recovery. IBM's offer to buy Chicago-based predictive analytics giant SPSS for $1.2 billion reveals Big Blue's efforts to gain share by helping banks save money while making the most of the endless data pouring into banks' marketing, risk and fraud operations.

"At the highest level what we know is in all industries the amount of information is growing, and continues to grow at an exponential rate," says Eric Yau, vp of business intelligence and performance management at IBM. "And of course we know data does not equal useful information."

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