IBM – Delivering Information Governance or just flogging more kit?

December 3, 2007

IBM – Delivering Information Governance or just flogging more kit?

By Nigel Stanley

Associate – Hurwitz

 

Few would disagree that their corporate information is probably their biggest strategic asset. Yes, people are vital as are good products and processes but ultimately none of these could function without access to corporate information of one sort or the other.

 

The problem with corporate information is that it’s inevitably locked up in silos that range in size from one person’s head through to departments and regions.

 

Unlocking this information is a huge challenge that needs to cross the boundaries of technology, politics, people and processes. No mean feat and probably one of the biggest challenges that face reasonably sized organisations.

 

I guess that is why few large entities would ever proclaim they have unlocked their corporate information in its entirety – It is probably easier to send an astronaut to Mars and back than deal with these issues.

 

Coupled with unlocking corporate data is the challenge of ensuring it is safe and secure. The more data that is revealed the more likely that it will be open to risk.

 

Earlier this year IBM announced a refocus on this area as part of their Governance and Risk Management strategy that focuses on protecting corporate information but in turn making it available for the organisation to consume.

 

This is a big program for IBM and appears to be forming the basis for a lot of marketing dollars over the coming months.

 

But is this just another cynical attempt to sell more products and services?

 

Of course IBM is in the market to sell stuff – it would be daft to think otherwise. In reality if you take a look at the abilities of IBM the organisation is probably one of the best suited to delivering a Governance and Risk Management strategy. The acquisition of ISS (Internet Security Systems) coupled with the Tivoli, Rational and WebSphere product sets and the consulting power of Global Services gives IBM a big toolkit with which it can play leader in this market.  Few other organisations can possibly fight head to head with IBM in this area. Yes, they may pick up tactical engagements but creating an IT governance and risk management strategy is exactly that, and about as far from a tactical engagement as you can be.

 

In the past some may have commented that IBM is just too big and unwieldy to execute such a big program. Internal IBM politics and fiefdoms would prevent any brave sole from knocking heads together and delivering the idea. Having put that notion to my contacts at IBM it would appear that the opposite is true. IBM sales, marketing and development teams “get” this governance program and – believe it or not – are actually enthusiastic about it, across the business.

 

Undoubtedly they see it as a chance to sell more stuff – and why not?

 

What does this mean for potential customers? Well shock horror I actually think that they have a realistic chance of implementing a successful governance and risk program by working with IBM. If I were brave enough to embark on such a program I’d certainly want an entity of IBM’s calibre working with me.

 

The cost to the customer of such a governance program? Lots.

The value of the governance program to the customer? Done right, probably immeasurable. 

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