Does IBM Understand BI? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Information Management
Commentary
5/7/2007
02:03 PM
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Commentary
50%
50%

Does IBM Understand BI?

IBM software executives have long insisted that [BI] components are applications and not middleware and that IBM is not in the applications business. Recently, though, that monotone is fading, to be replaced by a new note: They now say "No Comment," or when they do comment, talk about Hyperion-like technology as though this part of the BI market involves just the writing and delivering of reports.

With Oracle's recent acquisition of Hyperion, the expectations of other industry heavyweights has heated up significantly. I've already examined SAP; now I move to IBM and what it will do to address this key information middleware technology.

IBM recently made the point to me that it did considerably less work with Hyperion than had Business Objects, Cognos and SAS and so it's not particularly worried about its acquisition by Oracle. Historically, IBM's software executives have insisted that these components are applications and not middleware and that IBM is not in the applications business. Recently, though, that monotone is fading, to be replaced by a new note: They now say "No Comment," or when they do comment, talk about Hyperion-like technology as though they believe this part of the BI market involves just the writing and delivering of reports.But of course, BI technology involves lots more than a report writer desktop backed by a database. Thousands of organizations, likely including yours, know that managing BI is still more art than science. Business users running dashboards, scorecards, reports and searches through middleware layers will tell you that regardless of vendor, performance is less than stellar. It's unquestionably an area where some leadership from IBM would be welcome.

It would hardly be a massive challenge. IBM already has applications scorecards and goals and objectives and compliance tools that are built by and sold in the IBM Workplace group. Unfortunately, IBM's perspective on BI technology and on the differentiation of applications that are designed for line of business or vertical applications runs counter to the prevailing industry view.

IBM sees BI as more than the "tip of the iceberg" and includes within that label the underlying database, integration, data mining, master data management and other related technologies. The IBM division that focuses on these areas is called Information Management and not Business Intelligence. We agree; this is why we have defined our Information Management practice area. Does this view of the world mean that IBM is now looking more closely at partners like Business Objects, Cognos, MicroStrategy or others as acquisition targets? Time will tell, but the head of IBM Software Group stated recently that IBM is focused on partnering and not making acquisitions in this market. Will IBM step up and fill in the significant missing component of its middleware software strategy and meet its global client needs by providing information technology like Microsoft and Oracle? Without this layer, IBM is failing to address the next layer of the partner ecosystem, helping to solve companies' business problems by leveraging the BI technology that rides on top of information management layers in the IT stack. IBM historically has taken a partner-friendly approach, but its partners are getting acquired and building more integrated stacks to compete against Big Blue.

Let's see if IBM wants to be strategic with its clients and take charge of the top of the iceberg, the part of its anatomy where thousands of companies - many of which don't have IBM on their radar screens - are investing into significantly. Do you believe IBM will have to step up and address BI more strategically?

Mark Smith is CEO And Senior Vice President of Research at Ventana Research. Write to him at [email protected].IBM software executives have long insisted that [BI] components are applications and not middleware and that IBM is not in the applications business. Recently, though, that monotone is fading, to be replaced by a new note: They now say "No Comment," or when they do comment, talk about Hyperion-like technology as though this part of the BI market involves just the writing and delivering of reports.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll