Friday, February 17, 2006

Blue sky thinking?

IBM continues to invest in "information management", creating a major practice in this area. It has been active for some time in its software division in acquiring technologies related to data integration and various aspects of master data management. Now this latest reorganization puts in place the services side that accompany the software products. Clearly information management goes well beyond just technology, involving ownership of data (business or IT?) governance issues, project management, change management, perhaps setting up competence centers, etc. Hence there is clearly a large services component. Estimates of the BI/data warehouse market vary, but the total market is perhaps ten times larger than that purely for the software technologies. This reorganization makes clear that IBM sees this is a growing opportunity.

Someone once described IBM as the "beige" of the computer world i.e. they go with anything, meaning that IBM raises less hackles in customer organizations than some other high profile organizations e.g. Accenture is loved by some, but loathed by others. Hence in some ways IBM ought to be quite well placed to provide advice on projects that tend by definition to span wide areas of the business, and touch many other technologies. At some point systems integrators need to stop sucking on the comforting teat of ERP implementations, ERP re-implementations and ERP consolidation projects (surely at some point customers are going to stop paying for re-implementing these huge projects for the nth time?), so it would seem timely for enterprise software consulting teams to have a major alternative to draw on.

It must be generally good for the industry that IBM is addressing information management in a serious way, as if nothing else it will raise its profile. Delivering better information to decision makers is something that has always seemed to me obviously higher value than just automating operational processes, yet the bulk of the IT spend has always been on such projects. Perhaps this latest IBM move is another straw in the wind indicating that information management is finally moving up the agenda?


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