IBM Launches $1B Information Management Effort

With new portfolios and products, IBM sets out to deliver breakthrough data integration to help solve crime in real time, model the financial market, track customers and more.

NEW YORK—IBM is throwing $1 billion, 15,000 experts and two new server software products at the problem of wrangling business information.

In an event for analysts, press and customers here on Feb. 16, executives from IBMs Software Group and its Enterprise Transformation Services Group pledged to create a new era of working together to connect data across disparate business processes.

The new push brings IBMs expertise in data integration, business consulting and math science into the equation in an investment that will stretch over three years.

Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBMs Software Group, said that thanks to years of technology acquisitions and advances in mathematical analysis, the time is ripe for breakthrough solutions that a few years ago couldnt be delivered.

"The capability that exists today in terms of technology allows solving problems that couldnt be solved easily a few years ago," he said in an interview following his presentation. "The cost of solving the problem, the challenge of the quantity of data and the speed [at which it can be accessed and analyzed], along with the growing speed of hardware, now allows things to be [tackled] that couldnt before."

The new age of information management will bring about "profound changes" in myriad industries, from health care, real-time crime fighting, financial services, government entitlement programs and manufacturing, he said.

"Profound changes in health care, for example, will come not just from basic research but from having a complete record view, not just of a patient but [other patients] whove gone through similar ailments, have received similar treatments," he said.

One of the examples given by Mills of the direction IBM is going with information management is New York City police use of databases linked across counties, states and even the nation to find crime suspects relations to other people, known addresses and known aliases.

This information, delivered wirelessly through parole cars, is helping police to solve crime in near real time, he said.

Giving an example, "An initial piece of information [regarding a nickname used at a crime scene] allowed for them to do a search, come up with a suspect based on a limited amount of information: a tattoo and a nickname," Mills said. "Databases have been connected, they can run searches, they can deliver information to detectives on the scene.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read more about how police departments can use technology to fight crime, click here.

"Theyre also able, because we created linkages to other databases across the state and nationally, to go into hundreds of millions of records online," he said. "They can do cross-checks against other information: summonses, information relative to location, neighborhood maps, maps of where other crimes have occurred. They can then try to understand the relationship of this crime event and [other] events that might lead them to other, similar crimes."

Change the details, and the scenario is applicable to pretty much any industry where quick decisions based on solid business intelligence are needed. Financial services firms need to model markets fast, and Medicaid administrators need to quickly decide if theyre being double-billed or, for example, being billed by a party whos deceased.

Next Page: Business applications of information management technology.