So I took copious notes from the morning sessions at IBM’s IOD 2009 conference! In fact I took so many that I might have to get them into a note format. But, to there were three items that stood out for me that I have to tell you about. The first is good news, the others are little more circumspect. Firs the good news:
IBM is firmly focused on ‘decision making’ in the organization, and how such decisions should lead to better business outcomes. This goes to the center of how the firm works.
It was refreshing to hear the messaging around how users make decisions – at every level of the business, across different time periods, in every industry. Much of our own research looks at this also – and I saw in the IBM message a lot that aligned nicely with ours.
This focus leads to some good things – an understanding of how some firms win, and more importantly, how many firms fail. Decision making is one of main jobs we all have; if decision making was not needed, we would not be needed. But decision making is not just about data, or BI, or even predictive analytics. Knowing that a train is about to hit your car, at rest on the railway tracks is one thing. Someone has to do something about it. Decision making does not exist outside the context of the right action. Someone has to cut the order, move the product, pick up the telephone, issue the credit note, or get out of the car and get as far away from the train as possible. Decisions are made in context, and are related to action. This seems to have been a “gap” for IBM at IOD 2009. Let me explain this “gap” with the other two observations.
IBM’s Information led-transformation and IOD strategy fell short compared to Gartner’s Pattern-Based StrategyTM.
There were numerous case studies, examples, and customer speakers in several sessions – highlighting some real good stories. Many were from the BI-rich (predictably) industry segments such as insurance, public sector, oil and gas, healthcare, and retail; where examples are predicated on a BI approach and much less on process or operations. There were some real innovative examples mostly in isolation with the NY Fire Department (monitoring building integrity as a means to predict when fires might start). This was good – as far as it goes – but this highlighted, for me, the gulf between IBM’s strategy and that part of the planet that encapsulates its decision making routines within business processes and applications (think Oracle and SAP and the rest of the world’s application infrastructure).
More importantly the examples tended to look a lot like “more BI” and “better BI”. There was no distinction between BI and performance Management (PM). For Gartner, there is a BIG connection, yet a BIG distention. PM is not about a cleaner report; but the alignment of behavior across the organization to assure the desired (business) outcome is maximized. In other words, PM can be achieved with BI, but not always, and not everywhere, and in some cases without it. In fact, for many organizations, PM will be achieved when BI is “transparent” and hidden within the business process and attendant application. In our language, IBM’s message was lacking Optemo and PM-based culture (enablement) – and instead focused too much on “if you can build the predictive analytic, it will be used”.
IBM’s strategy hinges on data consistency. At the heart of this is MDM. Unless IBM has a credible strategy for “owning” MDM enterprise wide, and in an Oracle or SAP application environment, IBM will never dominate.
IBM has a lot of great technology (and some process) assets lying around, but there is little vision publicized to wrap the key pieces together. IBM is doing a pretty good job in MDM land when it comes to current market requirements (see our two Magic Quadrants for MDM) but when we consider MDM in its broader sense (all industries, all use cases all domains, enterprise wide) there are gaps (as there are for all vendors).
- Enterprise-wide Meta Model of Master Data (Design MDM)
- Master Data Services across all master data stores
- Alignment of Analytical MDM to Operational MDM
Governance of master data is the key to the IBM strategy. So where is IBM’s strategy for this? At our MDM Summit 3 weeks ago we highlighted this emerging need – for specific solutions – yet it is not present in IBM’s overall MDM vision. IBM’s Metadata Workbench (demoed alongside a Cognos product for data lineage) is required, in some fashion, for governing master data hubs and application data sources. Several vendors are looking at this “crown jewels” space and no one is making the right moves, yet. Oracle, SAP and IBM are chasing the same crown jewels.
Though much of the IBM message and examples this morning were good, value added and useful, I did not see the linkages I had hoped for.
It turns out that the afternoon was enlightening for me. Clearly IBM has experience in the area of “governance” – a lot in fact. I had forgotten the work I had looked at some 2 or 3 years ago with their Governance Council. So I should qualify now the point I made above: IBM still needs to package up all the pieces needed to operationalize and formalize master data governance.
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