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IBM unleashes tools to make data 'capital asset'

IT giant unveils new suite of information management software and services, alongside plans to beef up its Asia-Pacific partner network.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor

PHILIPPINES--Software giant IBM has unveiled a new suite of information management tools and services, along with plans to beef up and leverage its partner network in the Asia-Pacific region.

IBM said the announcement marks the first time the company is offering a "complete set" of offerings to manage information across an enterprise--independent of the business process software used to create the information. Dubbed IBM Foundation, the new software and service offering is the result of a US$1 billion research and development effort, the company said.

In a conference call Wednesday with media in the region, Ambuj Goyal, general manager of information management at IBM Software Group, said the new set of software tools will answer a global trend toward making information a "capital asset".

Goyal said many companies globally are looking to take advantage of the vast amounts of information they have.

While these companies have deployed information-related processes and projects such as business intelligence, the data needs to be "converted" into a more tangible form and optimized to reduce costs and improve management, he explained.

"[Based on] the thousands of customer analysis that we conducted, we see the need for global companies to convert information into a 'strategic' asset," the executive said.

Most information reside within software applications, but companies today are looking for ways to make information more "open". While businesses do have a strategy to guide their business processes and applications, the data that supports their processes is often restricted because it is so tightly associated with applications.

In short, Goyal explained, businesses do not have a "cohesive, industry-specific strategy to take advantage of the information they have".

He said companies need to set up an "information agenda" to allow them to better manage, integrate and draw insights from the volumes of corporate data to improve overall performance.

And this is where the IBM Foundation software comes in, said Goyal. He added that the new tools were developed to help companies "discover and understand" the information they have and "govern it over time".

The new offerings also aim to help companies map out their respective information agenda and guide them in creating an information management strategy, he said.

Goyal said the increasing pace of business, brought about globalization and mergers and acquisitions, have served as catalyst to help companies realize the importance of information as assets and as a competitive advantage.

Foundation of local partners
IBM's Philippine office will work with its partners to help them target potential clients, mostly large enterprises, for IBM Foundation.

Mark Register, vice president for marketing of IBM's information management group, disclosed plans to conduct partner-specific training for IBM Foundation, as well as the company's "information agenda" concept that it is looking to pitch to local clients.

"A few weeks back, IBM Philippines was able to talk with some 60 CIOs from various local companies about the latest software. So the interest is there," Register said.

He said IBM Foundation will be available in "the next few weeks" after the IT vendor completes its partner training, which will also be conducted across the Asia-Pacific region.

IBM is also not exclusively targeting enterprises, Register said, adding that local small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are also viable clients. He said the company will also hold partner training dedicated to the SMB market segment.

The company is targeting various industries including government, aerospace and defense, petrolchem, telecommunications, finance and banking, manufacturing and retail, he added.

Register did not disclose pricing details, but said existing IBM customers can access IBM Foundation offerings on a per component basis.

This week's launch follows two multi-billion dollar acquisitions Big Blue made in recent years to boost its data management software products, including Cognos in 2007 and FileNet in 2006.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

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