Indeed, the spectrum of possible information management applications is broad enough to represent a technology market thats estimated as being bound to hit $69 billion by 2009.
"Were pouring $1 billion in this space because we think the opportunity is far greater than anybodys estimated," Mills said.
IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., will initially devote 15,000 practitioners globally to the opportunity and will expand that population by 65 percent, to a total of 25,000, over the next three years.
At this stage, IBM is solidifying domain expertise in order to get a firm grasp on what the given problems are in specific industries and how technology can be applied to them.
"Now what were doing is hardening this and making it repeatable," Mills said, explaining why IBM isnt yet providing packaged products in this area. "Its not about understanding the mathematics. Its about making it repeatable and making it available in the market."
Thats what the 25,000 IBM experts will be doing over the next three years: gathering more domain expertise and making the front ends of these complex mathematical-technological solutions adaptable, Mills said.
"For many businesses, theyre looking for us to come forward with something much more prepackaged," he said. "In coming years it will be us coming up with technology packaged in something industry-specific, whether its in real-time crime fighting, in giving financial services customers a common view of the customer, … in manufacturing and distribution, in how do they deal with product data, how do they deal with suppliers, do they have redundancy, is the supply chain clogged with duplicate material?"
Joe Monk, CIO for Retail Bank and Channel Technology at Wachovia, based in Charlotte, N.C., said the banks ultimate goal is to achieve a single view of the customer that spans all channels, whether the customer calls the call center, walks into a branch office, uses an ATM or signs up for an account online.
Over the past years, Wachovia has made over 80 acquisitions.
"Were looking at extensive growth through acquisition, and we had to make sure we had robust, expandable capability" to serve customers, he said. As the bank moved through the application integration stage, it started looking across its key vendors and asking how it all comes together. IBMs information management strategies have been "key" in helping Wachovia navigate change while keeping optimal customer experience as one of the foremost priorities, Monk said.
At this point, Wachovia is looking at implementing an enterprise services bus with IBM.
"[Were looking at] how to bring it all together from a [point of view of] services, SOA [service-oriented architecture], and at the top of the stack … from the data perspective. [How do we get to a] common view of who the customer is, how to meet their needs, what products/services they need, and what kind of relationship we have with them?"