IBM’s decision to acquire human resources management company Kenexa is “one that CIOs should tune into and see for what it is: IBM is moving up the application stack to deliver more value to your business executive peers,” according to Forrester Analyst Ted Schadler. In a new blog post, Schadler argues that the $1.3 billion acquisition signals that “IBM has its eyes firmly fixed on improving workforce productivity through systems of engagement, including social business software. And that’s where IBM’s social business goals intersect with Kenexa’s business model: Sell software and services to a business executive, then help that executive improve workforce productivity through the smart application of analytics, social connections, search, information capture, activity alerts, and real-time communications — the software anchors of social business.”

If the future of software lies in business productivity improvements, then IBM will need to court and win and serve business technology executives, not just CIOs. This acquisition proves that it’s willing to spend money to do that.