I had the good fortune to attend IBM’s user conference this week in Las Vegas. Apparently over 7,000 folks attended – covering all of IBM IOD oriented technologies that span business intelligence, content management, and data management. First I had a few main observations:
- Key Note: IBM did not make any significant announcements at the event re MDM. The high level position however was clear however: IBM talked about an “information agenda” and an “application agenda” which emphasizes where IBM’s vision for information on demand is of more value to firms than business applications (think: SAP, Oracle etc). However, what IBM calls “applications” is very different to what you and I call applications. IBM implies“transactional” applications only such as finance, accounting, inventory control, even order management. They do not mean solutions that address the needs of the business for rapid process change, complex/innovative business processes, or competitive processes supported by business applications.
- BM has positioned Cognos as the source of “business optimization” which supports the “information agenda”, while the rest of the IBM data management tools help streamline the complexity of integrating all systems in the business
- My observation is that from the information agenda perspective, IBM is headed toward the same place as Oracle and SAP, in that all three vendors talk of the convergence of business intelligence and business applications, but IBM maintains that their view is different due to their focus only on information and its use in supporting “applications” not sought after by others (Oracle, SAP). IBM talks of “analytical applications” as if this implied embedded analytics in a business process context. SAP and Oracle are both headed toward the same place but uses different words to describe their starting points.
- MDM was conspicuous by its absence; it was not a focus of any high level message yet there were several examples where master data and the need for “single view” was prominent. Worse, a case study of NYC.gov, shared with the audience in the key note, referred to “single view of case” which included technology for harmonization and name matching – a form of MDM. But IBM said that this had not been an MDM issue. So IBM is confusing “selling tools” with business problems and this could result in confusion in the market.
Bottom line – the event was very well attended and there was lots of interest from users about how to leverage their information architecture to further the benefit to the business. IBM’s message certainly emphasizes that IBM comes at this conversation from a different perspective than, say, SAP. But where the two vendors end up is not, and should not be, that different.