The Inherent Value of Business Information

IBM's Information on Demand strategy is to help business customers fully capture the value of their information assets and investments

November 7, 2008

3 Min Read
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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.That companies run on information is a simple truism, but fully leveraging complex, widely distributed, and continually expanding information assets should also result in innovative new ways to leverage business data. For example, IBM Research offered Advanced Technology Demos at the conference that highlighted emerging company solutions. One demo showcased a Medical Analytics Platform that uses integrated IBM hardware, software, and database tools to create a single, holistic view into a patient’s medical condition and treatment regimen. Using the Platform would potentially streamline overall patient care, but it could also be used for practical purposes, such as tracking multiple medications and avoiding negative drug interactions.

At the end of the day, IBM’s IoD strategy is not a magical concept or simplistic marketing pitch. By helping organizations to unlock the essential value of their information, the company will also help them achieve consistent, measurable business success. As a result, IBM’s Information on Demand 2008 qualifies as a conference of the very best sort; one that provides companies the tools and solutions they require to solve common business problems today and prepares them to face more profound challenges in the future.

— Charles King, President and Principal Analyst for research firm Pund-IT Inc. , focuses on business technology evolution and interpreting the effects these changes will have on vendors, their customers, and the greater IT marketplace. Since founding Pund-IT in December 2004, Charles has published the Pund-IT Weekly Review, which contains a variety of industry analysis features, including this blog.

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