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IBM Information Agenda Opens The Door For Professional Services

  • Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Miscellaneous

By Dwight Davis, Practice Leader at Ovum

InfoSphere Foundation Tools give IBM ground-floor entry to Information Agenda projects.

IBM’s Information Management Group takes the lead role in driving the vendor’s IOD initiative, but the effort is a cross-company program that draws from all of IBM’s software, services and hardware units. (For a detailed analysis of IBM’s IOD strategy see Ovum’s August 2008 report, UIM evaluation: IBM’s Information on Demand.) The company fields a range of products that collectively support three “layers” of information management:

  • a base layer of data management and content management systems in which a corporation’s information assets reside
  • a mid-tier layer of information integration, master data management, data warehousing and other functions that together ensure that information presented to users, applications and business processes is accurate, consistent and, ultimately, trustworthy
  • a top-tier layer in which business intelligence and performance management software mine and leverage the trusted information delivered by the middle tier to complete the process of turning corporate information into a strategic and competitive asset.

Much of IBM’s recent news of note has occurred in the middle layer of this information management hierarchy, where the company has been working to establish its InfoSphere-branded “information middleware” products. These include its flagship InfoSphere Information Server, which bundles a variety of tools and functions that let customers define information metadata models and integrate information from virtually any data or content source.

In what is arguably the most consequential of its recent IOD announcements, IBM has broken out the Information Server tools to offer them independent of that product as well as bundled with it. Now customers that want to get a handle on their existing information resources and begin to better exploit them can purchase the InfoSphere Foundation Tools package that is designed specifically for that purpose. IBM says the tools work with any vendor’s information products, so it can serve customers with heterogeneous vendor platforms, not only those based on IBM’s own information management products.

The InfoSphere Foundation Tools deliver a range of capabilities, including data discovery, modeling and mapping; business glossary stewardship; data profiling and analysis; metadata visualization and management; and business data mapping. By providing such a comprehensive suite of information-focused tools, IBM should be able to attract a new group of customers that aren’t already IOD product users and don’t want to purchase the full InfoSphere Information Server to gain access to the subset of tools they need.

Information Agenda push opens the door for many professional services

It’s no secret that corporations have become mired in a proliferation of disparate and disjointed information stores, and that the business and competitive imperatives to exploit these information resources have escalated dramatically. As such, companies are primed to buy into a range of information management solutions. IBM is correct, however, in pointing out that companies won’t be able to fully benefit from their information assets by approaching the problem piecemeal.

Hence the vendor’s promotion of the Information Agenda concept, under which IBM is exhorting customers to launch sweeping programs that identify the current status of their information systems and processes, that set clear milestone and end-point objectives, and that lay out roadmaps to get from their current state to their desired state.

Inevitably, a good percentage of customers going down the Information Agenda path will require a range of professional services. As it has done with its service-oriented architecture initiatives, IBM has smartly created a range of educational and consulting services to complement its extensive IOD product portfolio.

Among the IOD-related offerings and services IBM has recently announced are:

  • Information Agenda guides and workshops – IBM has created guides for 18 industries, depicting business imperatives, key information projects and a business optimization map. These guides form the foundation for workshops that IBM and its partners can run to get customers started in this area
  • Information Accelerators – more than 140 accelerators that provide data models and other assets to improve business performance, reduce risk and deliver results more quickly
  • Information on Demand Competency centers – centralized or virtual centers that provide assessment, planning and other IOD services. /PR

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