This year IBM joined its annual Information on Demand conference with the new IBM Business Analytics Forum. Some 10,000 attendees came to learn about managing information assets using analytics for business, and the value of integrating business intelligence (BI) with information assets across the enterprise. All these topics are relevant, as large organizations have created thousands of silos that house data in many enterprise and personal computing environments. The conference was highlighted by the announcement of Cognos 10 that my colleague analyzed and of IBM’s emphasis on the business value of BI for performance management. The focus on business analytics is now a key part of the company’s overall strategy, and IBM has committed more trained consultants and employees to this market than anyone else.
IBM also has been busy on the information management side. It announced version 10 of the enterprise database DB2, which has significant improvements in performance and scalability. IBM also announced InfoSphere 8.5 for integration of information and data across the enterprise. IBM is also expanding its support for Hadoop in InfoSphere Big Insights, which is a timely step forward as Hadoop is growing significantly, which my colleague pointed out (See: “Hadoop Is the Elephant in the Room“). In its Enterprise Content Management (ECM) line IBM introduced IBM Case Manager for use in content-intensive areas such as government, healthcare, insurance and dispute resolution. This is a step forward along the roadmap outlined at the Information Governance event earlier this year that I attended and assessed.
IBM is also responding to Oracle’s Exadata appliance that I outlined from OpenWorld, and now IBM acquiring Netezza and continuing to introduce analytics systems optimized for specific workloads, and at Information on Demand introducing a new line of x86 based servers to run the systems. The appliance approach of blending software and hardware seems to be turning into a race between IBM and Oracle, with HP trying to energize its efforts and Teradata continuing to serve its customers with its appliances for analytics and data warehousing.
On another front IBM promoted its mobile software for devices such as the Apple iPhone, though its reluctance to design for specific platforms undermines the usability of its applications. So despite announcing mobile software for “smarter cities, campuses and businesses,” the company will have challenges in delivering simplicity with its current approach. Instead I am hoping to see a mobility approach for Cognos 10 and the analytics portfolio with more native support for Apple iPhone and iPad this has become a competitive requirement in the market for mobility as our research shows. I did examine some of IBM’s offerings on the Apple AppStore but found them limited in scope with no demonstration environment to show how they really operate before buying.
Turning to the IBM Business Analytics Forum, I looked into the dedicated tracks and keynotes for finance and customer areas. IBM has expanded its footprint in the office of finance by acquiring Clarity Systems for improved financial closing and reporting software that my colleague assessed along with Open Pages for GRC software that helps companies make their finance and operational processes less risk averse and more automated. The forum had good attendance from business professionals engaged in learning about its new offerings, and IT representatives were there to investigate the new offerings from their point of view. Judging from the conference and the demand for analytics shown by our research in every line of business and vertical industry, I think IBM’s momentum here could speed up rapidly. Now it must prove it understands the requirements of the lines of business and their processes; that demand that is much larger than any vertical industry. It is clear that IBM is advancing in business analytics and information management through the multiple approaches of product development, acquisitions and added services that should pay dividends to its customers and yes, IBM shareholders.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research