At IBM Information on Demand (IOD) in Las Vegas, the conference started today to introduce the latest insight to the fastest growing components of their business with analytics they have announced. IBM has invested over $12 billion in expanding their portfolio and organic development of their own technology. IBM General Manager of Analytics and Optimization Ambuj Goyal started the conference keynote discussing the expansion of focus on information management and range of acquisitions that have driven their expansion in the software. Interesting that previous years strategic partners like Cognos, FileNet and recent acquisition of SPSS (See: “IBM Boldly Elevates Analytics with Acquisition of SPSS”) are now part of IBM enterprise software efforts. IBM has made significant advancement from last year where they provided the vision for what they call the information led business (See: “The IBM Frenzy on Information Agenda for IT and Business”).

The keynote was transitioned to Frank Kern the SVP of IBM Global Business Services who leads the consulting services organization and recently announced business analytics and optimization consulting group reporting to him. This new group has been active for seven months with over four thousand consultants driving services engagements with organizations worldwide. IBM has opened new competence centers to energize these business analytics and optimization efforts in: Berlin, Germany; Beijing, China; New York City, NY; Tokyo, Japan; along with new ones to open in Washington, DC; and London, England to help work more closely with organizations. This commitment to consulting services on analytics and range of information management, business intelligence and performance management comes at a market inflection point when many consulting firms have consolidated and down-sized their organizations but IBM is now ready to address needs as the business begins to invest into this segment even further.

Frank provided some research statistics at IBM states that one in three frequently make decisions from information they don’t trust and one in two say they do not have access information they need for their jobs. But this should be no surprise as our benchmark research in data governance and decision making and performance has indicated even worse environment of a situation that trust is not the issue but the level of errors from decisions using inaccurate data. Our research also has founded a vast disconnect between business analysts and management who spend significant time on spreadsheets, presentations and email that operate virally as the tools for analytics and decision making. I did not see a conversation from IBM on how they can help lead this transformation of more accurate and consistent information and onto dedicated systems across business and IT that is simple and easy to accomplish.

A keynote panel discussion across IBM customers Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chevron and Elie Tahari state their further investment into data and analytics for supporting their specific needs. I have a little insight into some of these organizations who have business and IT collaboration challenges on addressing the business needs and have their workforce using personal spreadsheets, presentations and electronic mail along with the most valuable keystrokes in business being CTRL C and CTRL V to get data from reports and dashboards into their personal spreadsheet playground. The challenge of embracing and integrating spreadsheets into an enterprise environment is one of the largest issues facing IT as found in our 21st Century Spreadsheet benchmark research.

Ambuj Gowal introduced the new general manager of IBM information management, Arvind Krishna who is no stranger to IBM and this focus as he has been leading these efforts for Ambuj. Arvind provides further management focus on the information platform and tools including IBM InfoSphere. This is no easy job as many organizations are re-evaluating their underlying database technology and providers of information platform and tools. This is also fueled by competitive announcements and focus by Oracle (See: "Larry Ellison Stumps Oracle Exadata and Fusion Applications") and Teradata (See: "Teradata Steps Up Version 13 into Cloud Computing and New Appliance") place extreme pressure on IBM and their DB2 and appliance efforts. This recent activity does not seem to bother IBM as they see the combination of technology in the platform and not just the storage of content and data as critical in servicing IT organizations. IBM did briefly discuss their Smart Analytics Systems which is their pre-configured hardware and software appliance to simplify the installation and deployment of their suite of database for data warehousing with what is called InfoSphere Warehouse and the pre-loading of business intelligence and analytics. All of this is fine but no reference to the performance and TCO of this approach by IBM and limited discussion has many of us wondering if they are fully prepared to battle in the open and very competitive market by other large and small vendors.

IBM also re-introduced their InfoSphere Streams technology for harvesting event streams across the enterprise and recently analyzed by my colleague (See: “IBM InfoSphere Streams Elevates CEP for Operational Intelligence”). This is part of the dialogue on using events that are streamed across the network and providing what I call Operational Intelligence that requires Complex Event Processing (CEP). This is becoming a very hot area of the technology market we have benchmarked with Oracle advancing their efforts recently, Informatica acquisition of AgentLogic and Cisco with their network mining technology. The use of events to streamline real time processing across a business and IT environment is part of CEP that can be used to analyze events as IBM Cognos can do since their technology advancements in acquiring a company called Celequest. IBM is no new supplier of event streams and processing as their work in the 80’s with point of sale systems and use of SDLC were a precursor to this focus.

I had a chance to also to get an update on IBM efforts in data discovery to support a range of data needs from data quality, data integration and master data management along with product information management. IBM addressed this segment through their acquisition of a company called Exeros for data discovery which is now called IBM InfoSphere Discovery and our analysis (See: "IBM Scores Data Discovery Technology for Information Agenda”). IBM has continued to leverage this technology into the portfolio and provides key capabilities for IBM Optim Integrated Data Management efforts to help support data lifecycle management.

It is clear from the first day of the conference that IBM is continuing to double down on their portfolio of information related investments from analytics and business intelligence to the information management needs of organizations. IBM is also working through a new generation of analytics and performance management solutions that will build upon their current and recently acquired SPSS which will advance them even further in the market. I expect to see more from IBM on assembling broader set of what I call Information Applications that expand upon their portfolio of information and analytic technology investments. Now IBM will need to help provide pragmatic roadmaps for business and IT transformation to truly establish better processes and technology to support an organizations need for truly trusted information in any form at any time.