What, then, does that mean for CIOs? Is this just more marketing fluff from the industry, or have we hit something of a watershed moment with IBM's rollout of Cognos 10, which IBM calls "the most significant analytics offering since the acquisition of Cognos, one of the largest acquisitions in IBM history."
That includes full support for Cognos 10 on the iPad and iPhone, in addition to its availability on other leading mobile platforms.
But details aside, the big deal for CIOs and their colleagues is that the cumulative impact of IBM's moves noted above will force every other software company—from the big guys like SAS to SAP to Oracle to the slew of highly promising and innovative smaller companies driving new approaches and new technologies—to bring their analytics products and technologies out of the labs, out of the ivory towers, and out of the exclusive domain of experts who may or may not give two hoots about business issues.
And, in turn, put those high-value analytics and optimization capabilities into the hands of mere mortals in sales and marketing and engineering and product development and service and finance—in short, into the hands of just about every knowledge worker in the organization.
Here's how IBM vice president for marketing and strategy for business analytics Mychelle Mollot described IBM's evolving approach to this new wave of mobile-social business users:
"This is huge—absolutely huge—because we know that with the arrival of this mobile workforce, we'll need to more than just support the specialists," Mollot said in a phone interview. "We'll need to be dramatically increasing our platform support as well, including iPad and iPhone support to add to what we have for BlackBerry and Symbian and Windows.
"And by support, I mean more than just for the devices—I mean allowing mobile people to be as productive in the field as they would be in the office."
Mollot said that by embedding Lotus Connections directly into the Cognos solutions, "we can help people to be collaborative around a decision by letting them put an annotation in and pass it around that that instantly becomes part of the corporate memory, right then and there.
"In turn," she added, "this can shorten the time to decisions and make people more productive and more likely to take action on what has just been discovered."
At the top of this story, I wrote a headline that says, "Global CIO: As IBM Accelerates Analytics Business, Can Anyone Keep Up?" In asking that, I'm not suggesting that IBM will dominate the analytics landscape, and would-be competitors should just take their stuff and go home.
Quite the contrary: the challenge today is for other companies to redefine their value propositions in this high-change part of the market, and to move even faster than IBM is moving in redefining analytics from arcane math-driven hypotheses to real-time, real-world business insights for every knowledge worker up and down the organizational chain.
And for CIOs, that means that the real race in analytics will not just be about powerful and elegant code, but rather about which software company can do the best job of making all that power come alive for huge numbers of your employees, your partners, and your customers.
Can you keep up?
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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