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The proper management of data is ever more important and complex. Business people must have easy access to data from all over the enterprise, but unguarded access and distribution may enable users to bypass the IT organization’s rules for data management, copy and paste whatever they like into spreadsheets and share it in uncontrolled fashion. Firm control of enterprise data requires policies and practice for governance, yet our benchmark research found that only 12 percent of organizations are innovative in their data governance. Reaching this highest level of maturity is not easy when you have to manage a portfolio of policies and rules that span business units and IT and must take into account people, processes, information and supporting technology. Despite this it is essential to address this data governance need and as I wrote is a 2010 priority (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010“).

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At its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) analyst summit in Washington, D.C., IBM provided direction on the state of its software and services in this category of business technology. This annual event goes back to 2005 when IBM started making BAO-related software acquisitions in earnest. I have written before about IBM’s focus on analytics and optimization (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization”), but I want to point out the company’s focus is not just on software but also on services, hardware and larger efforts. At the executive level IBM has communicated to investors and shareholders four strategic areas of focus: Business Analytics, Smarter Planet, Cloud Computing and Growth Markets. IBM sees itself as leading the business analytics market with unified services, software, hardware and a platform for them.

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