Attendees of IBM's Information On Demand conference this week in Las Vegas will be bombarded by a rash of product and service announcements and a lot of discussion about how to create an "Information Agenda."
IBM launched the IOD strategy, which pulls together a wide range of data management, storage and analysis technologies, a few years ago. Since then, the company has made a string of acquisitions to support the strategy, including its purchase early this year of business intelligence vendor Cognos Inc.
Announcements at this year's conference are expected to include the following:
- Foundation Services, consisting of a one-day workshop followed by 12 weeks of follow-up consulting, that are meant to help customers create an internal Information Agenda. IBM hatched the latter phrase in September when it announced a set of tools, services and industry-specific data models for helping companies use information "as a strategic asset across their businesses."
- The C3000 and C4000 editions of the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse. These data warehousing appliances aimed at small and midsize businesses now include Cognos 8 BI.
- Seven new performance management and financial offerings based on Cognos technology. Among them are Clinical Resource Planning, for pharmaceutical makers to use in modeling and forecasting, and Earned Value Management, which federal agencies can use to monitor capital spending.
IBM is also expected to discuss news around master data management, enterprise content management and a range of releases due before the end of the year as part of its Optim product line, which the company acquired last year through its purchase of Princeton Softech Inc. The Optim products focus on data archiving, classification, data privacy and test-data management.
About 7,000 attendees are expected at this year's conference, compared with roughly 6,000 last year, according to IBM.
IBM's IOD strategy is broadly relevant simply because so many companies "have bet the business on a large swath of IBM solutions," said Forrester Research Inc. analyst James Kobielus. In a weak economy, customers may consider consolidating their data management technology "down to fewer, but more strategic and comprehensive, vendors, such as IBM," he added.
As far as the BI portion of its arsenal, IBM could be in a better position to innovate in coming years than rivals Oracle Corp. and SAP AG are, according to Forrester analyst Boris Evelson.
Oracle still has a good deal of work to do to integrate products from its Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, while SAP, which bought BI vendor Business Objects SA in January, has "some tough decisions to make on how to help their customers migrate from NetWeaver BI to the new product line," Evelson said.
Meanwhile, the IBM-Cognos merger saw few product overlaps, and Cognos "already took the time a few years ago to streamline and upgrade the platform," he said.