NEW YORK – IBM Corp. and Cognos Inc. on Wednesday launched the first integrated products following Big Blue’s acquisition of the Canadian business intelligence player, focusing on software to assist with legal compliance and retail issues.
The products include a “starter pack” to link Cognos 8 business intelligence (BI) with InfoSphere Warehouse, a data warehousing product IBM released last week. The company will also be offering pre-integration of Cognos 8 with IBM’s Information Management Server and pre-configurated templates for integrating Cognos 8 BI with FileNet business process management software.
IBM highlighted a Compliance Warehouse for Legal Control as an example of something that uses a combination of Big Blue content management and storage hardware alongside Cognos BI software to monitor and analyze information to deal with e-discovery issues. IBM’s retail division, meanwhile, has added “blueprints” from Cognos on how to improve store operations and planning.
Steve Mills, president of IBM’s software division, said he has gotten a lot of questions about Big Blue’s $5 billion purchase of Cognos late last year. The decision brings IBM, which has traditionally offered software infrastructure products such as middleware, into the business applications space for the first time, going head to head against partners such as SAP and Oracle. While Cognos and IBM have been longtime partners, Mills said the volume of data growing in organizations means that effective data management will require extremely low latency and the ability to more easily help companies study their prospective business, rather than analyzing historical customer information.
“The technologies have to be more tightly linked,” he said. “It was time to bring these things together.”
Mills said that while much of the software market is focused on application automation activities – such as capturing information about customers in through CRM or operations information in an ERP system – the faster-growing segment is around what he called “information automation.” This includes the ability to visualize data such as buyer behaviour and scheduling.
Cognos chief executive Rob Ashe, who now leads IBM’s business intelligence and performance management unit as a VP, said BI started out in many organizations as a point purchase at a departmental level. Finance departments, for example, might have wanted to do better forecasting. Now, however, companies are taking a more enterprise approach that requires some standardization of product offerings.
“The missing piece has always been a trusted source of information,” said Ashe, adding that the integrated Cognos and IBM products will not mean customers won’t be able to mix and match their software. “There will be sources beyond IBM that we will have to accommodate.”
Joint customers of IBM and Cognos include Fiskars Brands Inc., a maker of gardening and other tools based in Madison, Wisc. Garl Try, Fiskars manager of e-commerce and advanced technologies, said the company turned to Cognos about five years ago as it tried to get more benefits from data in its ERP systems. Fiskars also uses IBM’s Websphere portal software.
“What our CEOs want to see is what’s happening globally rather than just in North America – the sales in Sweden versus France, Germany and Canada,” he said. “From a sourcing and shipping standpoint, you can imagine what the cost implications are.”
Paul Valle, CIO of Papa Gino’s and D’Angelos Pizza, said his firm implemented Cognos BI software last year to improve the way information is managed across its 300 restaurants. Already, he said, reporting that had to be done at each location to senior levels of management has been standardized and made available at 6:00 a.m., freeing up approximately an hour and a half of a district manager’s time.
“I can’t see how it could do anything but help,” said Valle of IBM’s Cognos takeover, adding that Papa Gino’s is now looking at using BI to improve the timeliness of pizza deliveries. “We’re really moving towards more exception-based reporting.”
Other joint products in the IBM-Cognos lineup include a starter kit designed to speed up the time it takes Cognos BI customers to create dashboards that show important business information.