IBM Focuses on Raising Business IQ
With each passing day, the world of e-business continues to grow in size and competitiveness, forcing companies to look for ways to stay one step ahead of the competition. With that in mind, IBM recently kicked off a major initiative emphasizing business intelligence as the next wave of e-business.
"Once you get beyond the basic Web-commerce, if you want to differentiate yourself, it has to be an information driven e-business," says Ben Barnes, general manager for IBM's global intelligence solutions. "Companies need to gather information, store it and analyze it if they want to succeed. That's what business intelligence does."
Business intelligence is one of fastest growing segments of IT, according to a study by Survey.com
(Silicon Valley, Calif) which says the worldwide business intelligence/data warehousing market will grow to $113 billion by the year 2002, compared to $36 billion in 1999. "It's a smart move by IBM with the market growing the way it is," says Peter Auditore, president of Survey.com. "Companies who do not go to business intelligence are going to be seriously impacted in a negative way."
Backed by a $30 million integrated marketing campaign, the program, which was kicked-off as a teleconference on September 22, includes: a Fast Start program for small and medium businesses, new industry and consulting offerings, product announcements across the corporation to increase BI capabilities, and two servers that IBM is touting for their BI capabilities, the RS/6000 S80 and S/390 Multiprise 3000.
In spite of the fact that there are only a few mentions of the AS/400 in the press releases highlighting the campaign, Barnes says it's not an indication that the AS/400 will not play a big role in IBM's BI push. "We were highlighting the two new servers (RS/6000 S80 and S/390 Multiprise 3000) because they're new," says Barnes. "That doesn't mean that the AS/400 and Netfinity won't play a large role in BI, it was just because there wasn't any new announcements about either server."
Barnes also added that IBM expects the AS/400 to be a major player in its BI push, pointing out that more than 8,000 customers bought new AS/400 servers for data warehouses and data mining applications in 1998.
The Fast Start program is designed to deliver complete BI solutions to small and medium businesses for a price starting at $60,000. Customers can choose either the AS/400, Netfinity or RS/6000 servers as their platform.
The new service offerings for telecommunications companies, retailers and insurance companies join the existing portfolio of BI services introduced by IBM Global Services in June.
Many of the product enhancements are designed to improve DB2's BI/DW capabilities. DB2 Intelligent Miner for Data version 6.1 includes new statistical functions and built-in templates that allow users to get customer profiles from distinct perspectives. Other new releases were DB2 OLAP server version 1.1 and DB2 Data Joiner.
The RS/6000 S80, announced September 14, features a new 24-way symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) copper technology that will be coming to the top AS/400s next year. The S/390 Multiprise 3000, announced on September 20, offers midrange companies an integrated solution for running BI applications.
According to Barnes, IBM began looking at BI in regards to e-business over three years ago. "As we begin to do surveys with customers and analysts, we realized it was a growing market," says Barnes. "Customers told us it was the way they saw to sustain competition."
Auditore says some companies are overlooking BI, which forms the basis for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). One of the most important issues for CEO's is customer profile analysis, a component of CRM. "Companies want to get closer to customers," says Auditore. "Customer profile analysis will tell how customers buy, when they buy, when is a good time to send catalogs, things like that are all very important."
To position itself for the BI campaign, IBM has also dramatically increased its number of business intelligence partners for DB2. "We've established a specific set of business partners, like ShowCase and Silvon who add to our BI capabilities," says Barnes. "Overall, we've grown from about 150 business partners in 1998 to more than 380 partners.
One of those partners is Brio Technology (Palo Alto, Calif.), which developed an IBM specific product, Brio Enterprise for DB2, designed to give AS/400 users state of the art business intelligence solutions. "DB2 is an exceptional platform for business intelligence and data warehousing," says Chris Grejtak, executive VP of marketing at Brio. "IBM is definitely going in the right direction. Business intelligence is one of the cornerstones of e-business."TriNet Corporate Realty Trust, Inc.
(San Francisco) is one company that has already reaped the benefits of Brio Enterprise for IBM DB2. Brio updates TriNet's entire accounting system, enabling their remote offices and mobile workers to access information (property status, tenant status, etc.) through a Web-browser. "That type of information was not available to our users before we started using Brio," says Philip Burke, system VP of technology. "It's helped our business immensely, it's reduced redundancy, given us a single point of entry, and the accessibility is just great."
IBM was the 1998 worldwide leader in the BI/DW market with an estimated $4.25 billion in revenues, up from $2.4 billion in 1997, according to another study by Survey.com.
With the launching of this major e-business initiative, Auditore says IBM is looking toward bigger things. "They're trying to position themselves to take over e-business," he says. "IBM is in a great position because they're the only ones who have hardware, software and consulting services."