This year is the year IBM has chosen to get more intelligent about BI (business intelligence).
While the company has delivered BI-related applications and tools for some time, Big Blue is now making a commitment across all of its major software groups to deliver core products with a healthy dose of BI baked in. One of the major goals of this multi-division effort is to seamlessly integrate the massive data stores of historical data that corporate users typically have with real-time analytics. Company officials see this as mandatory if corporate users are going to successfully establish a true on-demand environment.
Janet Perna is the IBM executive squarely in the middle of helping piece this strategy together. As IBM's general manager of data management solutions, Perna has been in charge of IBM's multi-billion dollar DB2 business since the mid-1990s and was a key player in IBM's $1 billion acquisition of Informix in 2001 which doubled IBM's distributed database business overnight.
More recently Perna has been helping shape and deliver the company's next generation of database and content management products that will comprise the infrastructure for creating an on-demand environment. Perna sat down with InfoWorld's Editor At Large Ed Scannell and News Editor Tom Sullivan to discuss some of IBM's latest directions in this market.
InfoWorld: IBM has been in the BI market for quite a while, but the company's On Demand initiative appears to have given it renewed purpose. What is the strategic intent of BI for IBM?
Perna: If you look at what companies are doing as they integrate their systems horizontally, they want to optimize their overall business processes so they can respond to changes quickly. It allows them to quickly maintain their existing business processes based on both internal and external factors. In order to do that you need to have insight as to what is happening, and that really everything to do with intelligence.
InfoWorld: Can you give an example of this?
Perna: Look at Laughing Cow Cheese, which is mentioned in The South Beach Diet, but not by its specific brand name. [Laughing Cow] had no idea that the brand was being referenced in the book; that was something happening external to their business. Imagine if they had known that. You start thinking about technologies like Web Fountain that allow you to go out into the community of external sources and get insight into what is happening out there that might effect your brand and business, either negatively or positively. So when you think about this whole notion of On Demand and what companies are trying to do, BI gives you business insight through information on all types On Demand data. Web Fountain is a technology we have now in [IBM] Research and one of the things it does is crawl many sources on the Web to gather data that might be relevant to your business. One of things Laughing Cow would have been able to realize was their brand was mentioned in a best selling book, and so if a lot of people were asking for it at the grocery store, they could anticipate that added demand and been ready for it.
InfoWorld: What is IBM's strategy for merging the massive amounts of historical data a large company has with real-time analytics? Is it just an extension of your existing integration strategies or something else?