IBM Accelerates Analytics Push with Cognos 10 and More

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-10-25

IBM Accelerates Analytics Push with Cognos 10 and More

LAS VEGAS-IBM has introduced new software that combines the company's information management and analytics capabilities with tools that mark the way today's workers expect to be able to interact-delivering social collaboration and analytics.

At the IBM Information on Demand (IOD) 2010 event here on Oct. 25, IBM is delivering new analytics software such as Cognos 10 and attempting to address the needs of today's evolving workforce by providing new offerings that combine social networking and collaboration capabilities for the burgeoning mobile workforce, expected to reach more than 1.19 billion by 2013.

In an interview with eWEEK, Rob Ashe, general manager for business analytics at IBM, said IBM has been placing a major focus on analytics over the past few years, as evidenced by the $14 billion the company has spent in making 24 acquisitions related to business analytics.

"Combined, the acquisitions, investments and IBM research adds up to the emphasis we've put on analytics," Ashe told eWEEK. "And analytics is a key part of our 2015 roadmap. Last year, analytics contributed $9 billion to our revenues, and we expect to see that grow to $16 billion in 2015."

Meanwhile, IBM is bringing information and analytics capabilities to the masses with a new look and feel that more closely mirrors people's every day use of technology, including support for new mobile devices and integrated social networking capabilities for faster, more collaborative decision-making.

The new software takes analytics out of the traditional format of reports and charts to a more interactive design and broader analysis and insight making it easier by providing built-in images and videos to guide business users, Ashe said. Business users can now gain instant insight with analytics in an easy to use format anytime, anywhere on their mobile devices. These new capabilities will have an impact on the way all business users interact with information teams, partners, managers and customers around the globe.

Steve Mills, IBM senior vice president and group executive for software and systems, told eWEEK business analytics is in IBM's DNA.

"The good news about being old is you have a perspective on the way technology builds on technology," Mills told eWEEK in an interview. Computers have always been analysis tools. However, what we saw coming was a growing and renewed interest by businesses to become more predictive. This is a boardroom issue - companies want to know how they can see more in advance and can they be more predictive. External forces are driving businesses to think of this. External forces are pressing companies to invest more. We saw that trend line coming. And the question was at what point does the market show evidence of wanting to make a shift and invest more."

In that regard, IBM took its nascent analytics capabilities, "and we acquired a lot of technology and also did a lot of building from within," Mill said. Meanwhile, when it comes to competition in the business analytics space, Mills said, "We don't think anybody puts it all together like we do. So much of what we are doing around things like stream processing are unique. IBM has the industry's largest and most comprehensive offering."

Meanwhile, spurred by the growth of mobile transactions, expected to grow by 40 times by 2015,  the increase in the rate and pace of data is accelerating the IT opportunity around information and analytics. When combined with the unprecedented growth of the mobile workforce, this presents an opportunity for businesses to embrace the borderless office and extract intelligence to better interact with customers. A recent IBM study with 1,900 CFOs globally revealed analytics-driven organizations had 33 percent more revenue growth with 32 percent more return on capital invested.  

To address these changing market dynamics, IBM is announcing a set of new business analytics and information management offerings:

  • New software that brings together the power of social collaboration and analytics for business users to gain real-time intelligence in a single, user-friendly interface--online or through mobile devices such as ipad, iphones and blackberries.
  • New database software that helps businesses combine data - from past, present and future, with 40% reduction in IT cost.  
  • New software capabilities that redefine how an organization handles data behind the scenes with faster and more accurate integration of diverse forms of data, and the ability to see the quality of data before its used.

One Unified Experience


And with the launch of Cognos 10, IBM is delivering the most significant analytics offering since the acquisition of Cognos, one of the largest acquisitions in IBM history. IBM closed its acquisition of Cognos in January 2008 for about $5 billion. And for the first time, this new software brings together the power of social collaboration with Lotus Connections software and business analytics with Cognos in one unified experience with intuitive navigation capabilities and simplified user experience. This removes the frustration of having to interrupt user train of thought resulting from the need to switch between views to get right information. The software supports the natural path of seamless views from browsing to investigation to decision making.

Cognos 10 provides business users with an integrated view of historical information with real-time updates to give users a complete picture of their business, IBM said in a press release describing the technology. Now, business users can benefit from accessing information with a range of views from simple real-time information to advanced predictive "what if" analysis. The integrated social networking capabilities with analytics allow the employees to interact with each other in real time in communities, wikis and blogs. This combination fuels the exchange of ideas and knowledge that naturally occurs in the decision-making process, but is typically lost in meeting notes, manual processes and e-mails. Users can now initiate activities, engage others with their expertise, post messages, files, links, and discuss or review opinions - all in real time for faster, more accurate decision-making.

For example, IBM official said a regional sales manager can spot a spike in sales in a popular pair of shoes with the store manager and marketing team in real time to identify the cause and brainstorm to resolve the issues around managing supply and demand. Doctors can spot trends for patient treatment of certain diseases, share insight with other doctors and agree on a preventative course of action and treatment with a team of doctors, all without having to change a single view with this in-depth information. A brand manager sees product sales declining and needs to discuss the issue with the store manager, production department, and marketing team - all at the same time. The manager can instantly set up a decision network to connect the right people and information to share insights and capture annotations.

A video of IBM's Ashe talking about analytics and the IoD news can be found here.

"We're bringing more of an unconstrained interface into the data," Ashe said. "We're bringing some social interface stuff into the data - more searches, more images, not just tabular information. The other big thing is collaboration, What we've been trying to do is give people a platform to make decisions more effectivlely. We've integrated and will ship Lotus Connections with Cognos 10 out of the box."

In addition, "We're making sure everything users do they'll be able to do in any environment they're in. So we're supporting mobile, with new iPhone and iPad support.

Meanwhile, one example of IBM business analytics at work is at Office Depot, which identifies customer buying patterns with mobile analytics. With more than 49,000 associates worldwide, Office Depot is a leading global provider of office products and services with annual sales of more than $15.5 billion. It provides products and services to its customers through 1,598 worldwide retail stores, a dedicated sales force, catalogs and a $4.2 billion e-commerce operation. With IBM's analytics software, Office Depot can track, analyze and report on store performance in real-time to help drive profits, reduce losses and provide business insight to management.

Seamless Access to All Data


In other news, IBM is announcing new database software to brings simplicity to analyzing past, present and future trends and data. Developed out of IBM's Silicon Valley Lab, IBM is introducing new DB2 database software for System z, that simplifies analyzing past, present and future data for faster, more accurate decision-making. Typically, a timely and costly process for database administrators to correlate, access and integrate information from a variety of sources, DB2 10 enables seamless access to all data for faster analytics. Because of the explosive growth of data it is more critical now than ever before that businesses have high performance cost effective data management systems. New DB2 10 database software delivers up to 40 percent performance improvements while also providing 10 times more scalability to manage future growth. This translates into more efficient use of systems resources and cost savings to System z clients.

The automotive world's BMW Group is using DB2 for z/OS. DB2 for z/OS plays a key role in managing BMW's global supply chain from manufacturing to managing third-party suppliers and producing custom-ordered parts, the company said. BMW has been evaluating DB2 10 and is already seeing significant performance improvements of many of these critical production workloads, IBM said in a press release. According to BMW, they have measured an almost 40 percent reduction in processing power required for insert-intensive workloads for their data, which translates directly to lower costs for their IT department. Also, the reduction in time to process critical supply chain data helps BMW deliver its parts even more efficiently to its customers.

IBM also has introduced a new version of its InfoSphere Information Server, which acts as the data backbone for organizations, integrating all relevant data resources and governing the quality and completeness of information. For instance, new pop-up menus integrate data quality and lineage information directly into business applications so users can monitor the quality of their data before they use it, IBM said. In addition, new quality capabilities improve how data is standardized and combined, making it easier to integrate diverse sources of information into a single view. For example, a business with operations in multiple countries can now easily integrate customer data across systems in multiple languages and ensure it adheres to consistent name and address standards.

And IBM is showcasing a technology preview of its InfoSphere BigInsights portfolio running on IBM's commercial Development & Test Cloud and launching the beta program for the same software in on-premise deployments. Invented by IBM researchers and software developers and powered by Apache Hadoop, an open-source technology designed for analysis of big volumes of data, IBM's Big Insights portfolio helps organizations analyze and visualize petabyte-size quantities of structured and unstructured data.  

The preview highlights the benefits of a test cloud development model including simplicity of set up, straight forward cost structure and lack of infrastructure changes. Having this software on the IBM Cloud environment makes it simple for an organization to get started with Big Data analytics and determine how they can best use big data before bringing the actual deployment in house for operations on sensitive data. By simply adding their test data to the cloud they can get started with Big Data analytics and show the long term benefits of enterprise Hadoop deployments.

IBM continues to expand its multibillion dollar investment in the business analytics and optimization market. Over the past five years, IBM has invested more than $14 billion in 24 analytic-related acquisitions. Today, more than 7,000 IBM industry consultants are dedicated to analytics.

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