IBM makes US$30 million biz intelligence push

IBM Corp. is spending US$30 million in marketing funds to get business intelligence systems at the top of customers’ IT agendas in 2000.

IBM is targeting mostly vice-presidents within marketing and sales organizations, by focusing especially on the use of the technology for winning and retaining customers, Ben Barnes, IBM general manager of Global Business Intelligence Solutions, said.

According to Barnes, businesses within finance, insurance and retailing will receive special attention. So far business intelligence systems are predominantly employed by rather large companies, but IBM hopes to get small and mid-size businesses on board by offering a package with hardware, software and services for US$60,000 and up.

The package, dubbed Fast Start, should get the customer up and running in six to 12 weeks, according to Janet Perna, general manager of Data Management at IBM Software Solutions.

The announced software products, centred around IBM’s DB2 Universal Database, include the following:

– DB2 Intelligent Miner for Data Version 6.1. allows customers to extract information from large amounts of enterprise data including e-commerce data. New visualization technology should increase the software’s ease of use and make it unnecessary to have “mathematicians” interpret the findings, according to Perna.

– DB2 Intelligent Miner for Relationship Marketing Version 6.1 includes a suit of Web-enabled applications that focus on customer behaviour.

– DB2 DataJoiner Version 2.1.1 now provides access to NCR Corp.’s Teradata database. NCR is a major IBM competitor in large-scale data warehousing and business intelligence, and customers have asked for easier access to Teradata, Perna said. DataJoiner now supports 55 types of databases.

The DB2 OLAP Server Version 1.1, an on-line analytical processing system that shipped in July, was also mentioned as part of the initiative.

Perna also discussed a standards initiative concerning data warehouses. IBM, Hyperion Solutions Corp., NCR Corp., Oracle Corp. and Unisys Corp. have just submitted a common warehouse metadata interchange specification to the Object Management Group, an industry standards organization.

The proposed standard contains APIs based on XML for systems that exchange data in an warehouse environment.

“We have actually made a toolkit available on the Web, so that customers and vendors can begin working with the standard,” Perna said.

IBM’s efforts to broaden the use of business intelligence is actively supported by several business units. IBM Global Services, for example, is ready with special offers to help customers get started and go further with the technology, Barnes said. IBM will also supply financing on special terms.

IBM has a 20-per-cent market share of the global business intelligence market, Barnes said, referring to numbers published by World Research Inc. in June 1999. According to Barnes, research companies predict a growth rate in the high double digits for the business intelligence market.