Consolidation and Other Trends
What's your role going to be under the IBM umbrella?I spoke with Information Builders' CEO recently and he talked about his commitment to remaining independent, and in the past you have talked about Cognos' plans to remain independent. Both perspectives beg the question, Is it just too difficult to remain a stand-alone BI vendor in this market? Well, shareholders have a say, right? Look, in the space of a short year these large transactions [by Oracle, SAP and IBM] have bought up 70 percent of the BI performance management market. So for those that are left in the 30 percent-first of all, independence is important and they can talk about independence, but the issue is that they're going to come under a lot of pressure in large accounts where standards are going to emerge from these large vendors. So I don't want to say that they don't have a path, but it gets to be a more difficult path. We were happy to be independent, and IBM, they pursued us. It worked out well in the terms we put together and we're kind of happy that we wound up on a side where we have a lot of influence. What are your thoughts about BI on demand? I think it continues to percolate. But the broader market for BI on demand is quite formative at this stage. The challenge with BI: There's a lot of data to move. It's not a one-to-many relationship like Salesforce.com or [where] you and a million people like you enter data back into a database and it gets accumulated. Once you feed that back to customers everybody's data is different and they use it differently. So a lot of data gets moved. You have to model it differently. So there are challenges. It's a market that will develop over time, but there are challenges. Any other big trends you see coming down the pike? I think Web 2.0 is big. I think we're in a stage in the market where the things we know are going to continue to drive the market-integration platforms, performance platforms-so there's a big wave and we have yet to see a crest on it. The things I am most excited about are these Web 2.0 capabilities, because it's a really breakthrough barrier for performance management, which is all about collaborating. We're going to see the idea of you mashing up with what [someone else] does, or subscribing to what somebody else does, as long as everyone lets you. So it's a little bit fanciful at this stage, but in that fancifulness there are some interesting ideas about how to collaborate. Do you think companies, particularly BI software developers, can go too far in enabling Web 2.0 capabilities-for example enabling an employer to electronically go out to Facebook or MySpace to get private information about an employee? I think the Facebook promotion where Facebook was providing information to your contacts about what you are buying, so a guy's wife can find out what he's buying for his mistress, is an example of that. So one, there is a line you can cross. And two, there is a complexity wall where it just all gets too damn complicated. The Holy Grail is enough simplicity for a really important problem to solve. You find these over-engineered solutions for things. So I agree you can go too far. Is it an engineering issue, or should software developers put out some standards? I think it is a customer demand issue. Engineers will want to run wild connecting everything to everything else. You want to go where there's an opportunity and people will pay for it. So it's a matter of picking those sweet spots.
I am going to run the segment within IBM's Information Management group. And I am committed for the long term to do that.