Last year, Fair Isaac (NYSE:FIC) helped businesses make more than 25 billion decisions. With its latest deal with IBM (NYSE:IBM), that number looks certain to grow.

The total size of the deal -- by which IBM becomes a reseller of Fair Isaac's analytical software tools -- is not clear. What is clear is that shareholders liked it, bidding the stock $2.55 higher yesterday, to $53.96.

You probably know Fair Isaac from its famous (or perhaps, infamous) system of credit scoring known as FICO. But that's just one part of the business. The firm also develops modeling solutions that help enterprise customers grapple with decision strategies, as well as financial risk and data management.

And the deal with IBM is comprehensive, involving the full range of Fair Isaac products on a global basis for sale to financial services companies. There will also be joint development of future products, as well as integration with existing product lines.

All of this speaks well for Fair Isaac. IBM understands that partnerships are critical, and that means offering best-of-breed solutions. The company has moved into Linux, for instance, with deals with Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL). The "On Demand" initiative, of which Fair Isaac is a part, is equally ambitious.

IBM likewise recognizes that its own clients need advanced analytics. Providing financial services in the digital world is increasingly complex and dangerous -- with increased regulation, globalization, and fraud. These very concerns, and high-profile deals like this, represent long-term opportunity for Fair Isaac.

Tom Taulli is the author of six books on investing, such as Investing in IPOs (Bloomberg Press), as well as a professor of finance at the USC School of Business. You can reach him