IBM adds strategy-mapping tool to Workplace

IBM Friday released tools for its server-based Workplace platform designed to help companies track their performance by providing end users with analytical data and collaboration features based on their role within the company.

IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution (WBSE) can display business data from a variety of sources as “dashboards” and “scorecards” that assess ongoing performance and overall progress toward specific business objectives, such as increasing revenue or launching new products.

The tool is a framework that is extended using software from any number of IBM partners, such as BusinessObjects with its XI portlets that plug into WBSE and provide business intelligence features, including alerts and interactive charts and graphs.

“We are taking information out of departmental silos and making it available to the people who need it,” says Jayne Landry, alliances marketing director for BusinessObjects.

WBSE is part of a family of tools for IBM’s Workplace platform, including Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting.

For small to medium-sized businesses, WBSE integrates with Workplace Services Express, which includes collaboration tools like instant messaging and document management. WBSE also runs on WebSphere portal. Both platforms provide the hooks to corporate data housed in backend systems such as financial applications and supply chain software.

WBSE is not designed to help users create a business strategy, but to map it out and break it down into smaller tasks.

Users can take a business strategy, such as delivering a new product, and divide it up into a number of objectives. Each can then be assigned to a specific end user, or role, with a customized interface that displays the data that end user needs to execute and track their responsibilities within the overall project.

“This is an easy-to-use interface that allows management to understand where their business problems are and what causes them,” says Steven Warshawsky, solutions director for systems integrator Perficient. “I would call it more a way of augmenting your data warehousing and consolidating information from multiple repositories, including unstructured data.”

The WBSE interface includes four main concepts that are implemented using software from partners. Scorecards monitor not only overall progress for higher-level executives, but also overall progress per user/role within the overall strategy. A dashboard provides the individual user with relevant information on a day-to-day basis.

Navigator lets end users find others, display information about them and initiate collaboration through instant messaging and e-mail. Alerts tracks information from the Scorecard, including approval notices, status changes and tasks requiring an end user’s attention.

The set of tools helps users monitor their own goals and objectives, link objectives to others in the company, and understand how their particular objectives relate to the overall strategy.

IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution is available for SMB and departmental deployments for US$99 per user. It is bundled with Workplace Services Express portal infrastructure and priced at $196 per user. WBSE costs $95,000 per processor for large corporate customers. It also is bundled with WebSphere Portal infrastructure and priced at $218,000 per processor.

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