Why IBM’s Information On Demand Strategy Has Legs
By Carol Baroudi
Never before have organizations had to contend with so much data. E-mail, website, chat room, IM, VOIP data. Analytical, statistical, logistical, operational data. A wealth of information – en potentia – or death by drowning. The vision is clear – all the data you want, all the time, where you want it. Good, clean, accurate, reliable data. To address this opportunity IBM is pouring an additional billion dollars into developing and acquiring more technology in support of all things data. They have named this initiative Information On Demand and are hiring another 10,000 professionals to help make it happen. That?s no small change ? and one smart bet. Short and simple: Information Rules. Long and short: Information is only as good as its availability, accuracy, and leveragability. And herein lies the IBM advantage.
Data, Data Everywhere and Not a Thought to Think
For decades businesses have been acquiring more and more data. But unless data can be accessed, searched, validated and integrated with other data, rules, processes and applications, its value is limited. Liberate the data ? validate it, serve it up, slice and dice it ? and the world changes. With better information come better decisions. With quicker access, search and discovery, information can change processes. Better, faster, more accurate data can translate into real business advantage ? game-changing advantage. And that?s what an information-on-demand strategy is all about.
Today?s enterprises have myriad data stores ? customer-facing data, logistical data, operational data, analytical data, competitive data. As disparate entities they more or less serve their original purposes. Bring siloed data stores together into an integrated, searchable, actionable, validated whole and every process has more integrity, the company is more ?self-aware? and more intelligent, expeditious, and advantageous strategies become possible. To make information consistent, accurate, timely and complete is no small feat and will ultimately only be accomplished by making information available as a service as a part of service-oriented architecture.
Information as Strategy is not a point solution
Traditionally the idea of actionable data is relegated to analytics and data integration where data integration focuses on extracting information from particular business applications or databases, each complete with their own metadata, business rules and search capabilities. No longer is data constrained to well-defined schema or structures. Data takes many shapes and sizes, can be structured or unstructured, text, image, sound or video. The labyrinth of rich data expands exponentially, daily. RFID alone is creating terabytes of data every day and it?s barely out of the gate. Strategy comes from understanding the implications of data ? the implications of bringing different sets of data together. And no point solution exists that can bring all conceivable data together. Determining what is relevant and creating process around it will require very skilled people and will provide unprecedented advantage.
Beyond strategy, information on demand changes the playing field. When data, previously tied to manual processes, is liberated and therefore free to participate in other processes, worlds open. For example, traditional mammography x-rays are giving way to digital imagery. Digital images are easily replicated and transported. Sharing test results goes from being a very labor-intensive, costly process, to the click of a mouse.
IBM has been innovating around all things data for a long time. Beyond being a long-established database vendor, IBM Research has been focusing on technologies to collect, store, and analyze massive amounts of unstructured as well as structured data.The Web Fountain project has made enormous inroads into search and into understanding the implications of context, semantics and nuance. When as much as seventy percent of people?s time can be spent looking for relevant data, perhaps the biggest single lift in individual productivity can come from improved data discovery and access. Beyond individual productivity, creating processes that can leverage previously inaccessible or disparate data means new targets for automation and competitive advantage.
Beyond what it has invented and is inventing, IBM is actively seeking and acquiring all kinds of technology that can contribute to the actualization of Information On Demand. Acquisitions such as Ascential Sofware (data integration, data cleansing, and metadata management), iPhrase (repository based search) and SRD (entity analytics) are just the tip of the iceberg. With a billion dollars to spend, you can be sure that some will be targeted toward acquiring technologies to augment their already vast portfolio.
Hurwitz & Associates believes IBM?s Information On Demand Strategy is right on target. At the end of the day, everything is data. Organizations that harness and leverage information well can gain enormous competitive and operational advantage.
Copyright 2006, Hurwitz & Associates