IBM Tops in Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing

IBM's Symons: "The AS/400 has obviously made a significant contribution to IBM's business intelligence growth."

In mid-June, World Research Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) released its 1999 Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing (BI/DW) Program Competitive Analysis Report. The report named IBM as the 1998 worldwide revenue and market share leader in business intelligence and data warehousing. IBM shows no signs of relinquishing its lead this year, as META Group's (Stamford, Conn.) 1999 Data Warehouse Marketing Trends/Opportunities report indicates IBM is still the dominant choice of customers building data warehouses.

"IBM has been at data warehousing and business intelligence for a long time," says Wayne Eckerson, senior consultant with Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based consulting firm. "They have a ton of warehousing tools, their tools are robust and more importantly, they have about 1,300 consultants in the business intelligence and data warehousing markets who know the field very well."

Dr. Harry Kolar, manager of strategy and emerging technologies for IBM Global Business Intelligence Solutions, says one of the main reasons IBM is leading both markets is, "We're providing solutions that are very scalable and also have granularity."

Data warehousing and business intelligence solutions previously used by large corporations only now are available for small and medium sized business. IBM has lowered the price/point of entry on these solutions, allowing companies to purchase specific solutions. "We partitioned the models so that companies can afford them," Kolar says. "Now companies can start with a scaled-down version to support a specific area and then purchase added components if they want to later on."

As IBM markets these solutions for mid-sized companies, the AS/400 is growing in popularity. In fact, Van Symons, IBM business intelligence segment manager for the server group, says that over the past two-and-a-half years the AS/400 has enjoyed 100 percent year-to-year growth. IBM continues to prosper this year as well. "We now have 15,000 business intelligence customers worldwide, compared to 9,000 last year," he says. "The AS/400 has obviously made a significant contribution to IBM's business intelligence growth."

IBM began using the AS/400 as a business intelligence platform in 1996, but Symons says it's taken off in the past six to 12 months, citing IBM's decision to broaden its depth of solutions as the main reason for the growth in popularity. "We've increased data loading scalability 10-fold, backup and recover 50-fold, and query and analytical applications more than 100-fold."

Another reason for the AS/400's growth in business intelligence is its ease-of-use and implementation. Symons says IBM recognized that some of the small- and medium-sized firms that use business intelligence do not have the computer expertise or the money to run complex systems. "Customers realize it doesn't take a group of Ph.D. scientists to implement business intelligence solutions on the AS/400. The AS/400 is also very reliable and has a high level of integration, something customers are looking for."

Guy Creese, senior analyst for Aberdeen Group, shares Symons' opinion that the AS/400 has played a large role in IBM's success in the business intelligence and data warehousing fields. "IBM has done a great job of recognizing how good the AS/400 is; it's a lot more powerful than it was five years ago," he says. "The AS/400 is great for decentralized companies who don't have a lot of time and money to manage their system."

Kolar says IBM will continue to make advances in both fields during the next few years. He expects to see continued growth because, "Companies are realizing that getting the right information to the right people at the right time is vital to meeting their business objectives."