But are businesses looking for a vendor to solve that problem with a targeted line of software and services?
IBM's Ambuj Goyal, who heads the division, insists that they are. Some 7,000 customers, IBM says, are gathering in Las Vegas this week for the third annual Information On Demand conference, which covers a swath of IBM products ranging from Cognos business intelligence applications to content management software to various offerings for cleansing and transforming data.
The IOD business, which was "a gleam in our eyes 2-1/2 years ago," has brought 10,000 new customers and 2,000 new partners to IBM in that time, Goyal said in an interview.
It's been a huge investment. IBM has spent at least $7 billion on 19 acquisitions for its IOD vision (including Cognos, Ascential, and FileNet), and has spent an additional $1 billion each year on growing the business organically, Goyal said.
While IBM hasn't provided enough details to determine just how well that investment is paying off, it appears there is healthy demand for its IOD products. In its third quarter ended Sept. 30, IBM reported that IOD revenue was up 26% over the same period the previous year (it didn't provide a revenue dollar amount). That's more than double the 12% growth in sales for all IBM software, to $5.2 billion, most of which came from IBM middleware products such as WebSphere and Tivoli that are not considered part of IOD sales.
Cognos software revenue, of course, likely had a sizeable impact on IBM's IOD revenue growth in the quarter; Cognos was pulling in nearly $300 million in quarterly revenue when IBM acquired it earlier this year.
In a report published this summer, Ovum analyst Dwight Davis heralds IBM IOD as presenting an "unmatched unified information management product portfolio," adding that IBM has "deliberately and doggedly constructed an unparalleled portfolio of software products that address virtually every element with the unified information management universe."
IBM's IOD offerings include data integration and cleansing software from its Ascential acquisition (renamed InfoSphere Information Server), information modeling and metadata management software from its Unicorn acquisition, technology for identifying and capturing changed data from its DataMirror acquisition (renamed InfoSphere change Data Capture), and, of course, a broad portfolio of BI offerings from its Cognos acquisition.
At the conference Monday, IBM is touting its InfoSphere Traceability Server, which companies can use to manage information captured on RFID tags and bar codes for tracing such things as prescription drugs in the supply chain. It's also offering a new product called InfoSphere Entity Analytics Solutions, software designed to help companies detect fraud and insider threats.
IBM also is tailoring its IOD offerings more for specific markets; it's introducing performance management software packages at the conference specifically for finance, pharmaceuticals, sales and operations, and other areas.
To help companies develop an "information agenda" (in other words, hop on the IBM IOD bandwagon), IBM said Monday it's offering a one-day workshop that covers its various IOD technologies, followed by a "12-week in-depth assessment and analysis with IBM experts."