RealTime IT News

IBM Pumps $1B into Information Management

NEW YORK -- IBM today announced a $1 billion investment in information management software, a space the company expects to top $69 billion by 2009.

The company, intent on gaining a big slice of that pie at the expense of rivals Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, also unveiled two new software products from its WebSphere brand.

Information management is an increasingly important practice for corporations trying to merge information trapped in disparate software engines, such as databases and content repositories.

As the business world bows more and more to the will of federal compliance regulations, IBM officials and its customers presented a case for why solutions that help companies corral various bits of data and present them in a clean, unified manner.

Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBM Software, said the company is making the three-year investment in software and services to help meet customer needs for finding relevant information without spending inordinate amounts of time to find it.

"These are people in roles that are often customer-facing, supplier-facing -- people engaged in 'moment of truth' activities where the time delays associated with finding the relevant information has fundamentally impacted their ability to deliver effective customer service," Mills said.

The executive said 60 percent of CEOs believe their organizations need to do a better job of using information, according to a recent IBM survey.

As part of the $1 billion investment, Mills said his software team will jointly develop new solutions with the global services unit, led by Ginni Rometty, senior vice president of IBM Enterprise Transformation Services.

The $1 billion price tag isn't much of a stretch for IBM, which has spent well over a billion dollars on acquisitions, such as Ascential Software, SRD Software and iPhrase in the last few years.

These buys, and IBM's swift integration of them, have put them in a solid position in the information management market.

Gartner analyst Dave Cearley said that while Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, all have bits and pieces of information management technology, IBM has the most complete portfolio to date.

The Software

To help remedy the challenges businesses have faced, IBM created WebSphere Information Server, which uses a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to integrate large amounts of different data and preserve its quality.

IBM acquired the technology components for the Information Server, which will be made public in the second quarter of 2006, through its purchase of Ascential Software last year.

The second new software product, WebSphere Content Discovery Server, is available now. Content Discovery Server is a piece of high-powered search software that employs technology from the vendor's 2005 purchase of iPhrase.

This software includes content integration and contextual information capabilities to "provide the right information to the right people at the right time," according to an IBM statement. IBM said this software can boost online sales and improve customer support.

The Content Discovery Server will be targeted at commerce, contact centers, self service and case resolution.

The company also said that it has created a new "center of excellence" to help customers better use information. At the center, IBM software and service experts will develop six new software solution portfolios.

The will include: business analysis and discovery, master data management, business process innovation, risk and compliance, workforce productivity and business performance and process management.