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The Inherent Value of Business Information

A clich long embraced by the IT industry is that business information carries inherent value. But there is a dangerous thorn on that particular blossom. Information is only as valuable as it is accessible, usable, and manageable, so if these factors degrade, then the value of information becomes difficult or impossible to realize.

Recognizing this phenomenon, the goal of IBM’s strategy presented at its recent Information on Demand 2008 conference in Las Vegas is to help business customers fully capture the value of their information assets and investments. The company’s IoD 2008 conference presented a host of new solutions designed to do just that.

For example, the new Cognos-based, industry-specific, and financial management solutions highlight a powerful IBM development model. Since companies across specific industries use many of the same business practices and applications, those comparison points offer a framework for designing and building replicable new solutions. Similarly, IBM’s new IoD Competency Centers leverage the company’s long history (and sizable investments) in analytics technologies to help clients gain deep insights into their information assets.

There are some brand new tools in IBM’s IoD arsenal. We found particularly notable the InfoSphere Traceability Server, which aims to bring better order (and demonstrable value) to the RFID tags that are commonly used in retail outlets to identify and track goods. According to IBM, the number of RFID tags in circulation is expected to grow to some 30 billion by 2010, suggesting that now is definitely the time to create effective management tools for the little buggers.

While these solutions are impressive, we believe that IBM’s broader notion of aiding customers in establishing Information Agendas to be particularly profound. Considering that the sheer volume of information is becoming ever larger and more complex, and that (in the words of one IBM executive) “the world is becoming more instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent,” setting and pursuing an agenda encompassing an organization’s information assets qualifies as an act of self-preservation for most organizations.

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