IBM really is throwing the kitchen sink at business analytics. In the wake of the closure of the NISC and Initiate deals that extend the reach of its Business Analytics and Optimization products (BPO), it announced new services and products to help companies analyze Big Data.

The new portfolio of products, unveiled at its Information on Demand 2010 conference and called IBM Info Sphere BigInsights, moves analytics up a notch by enabling them to analyze petrabytes of data using Apache Hadoop, an open source technology developed specifically for the Big Data end of the datasphere.

IBM’s Big Data

Simply put, Big Data is datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using conventional database management tools creating difficulties in the areas of capture, storage, search, sharing, visualizing and -- you got it -- analytics.

This is particularly true with the amount of unstructured -- and structured, of course -- information that is currently available to enterprises, the analysis of which can give insights into behavior that has not been possible until now.

BigInsights Analytics

It can give insights, that is, as long as it can be analyzed and that’s where InfoSphere BigInsights come in. Powered by Apache Hadoop, a Java software framework that supports data-intensive distributed applications under a free license, InfoSphere BigInsights consists of a number of easily deployed analytics products in data center and cloud configurations. Solutions include:

  • BigInsights Core, consisting of a package of Hadoop software and services, that enables enterprises build and deploy customized analytics for large data volumes.
  • BigSheets, a beta version software that extracts, annotates and visualizes data from large-volume data sources.
  • Analytics solutions for the finance, risk management, media and entertainment sectors.
  • Analytic models for banks and insurance companies to meet regulatory compliance requirements.

IBM has developed these new products in conjunction with Cloudea and Karmasphere, who specialize in Big Data, and says that in the future it hopes to be able to expand and devlop Hadoop along with others working in the Big Data open source community.

Advanced Case Management Services

Related, but apart, are two other new products that IBM has just unveiled: InfoSphere Warehouse Pack for Market and Campaign Insight, and Advanced Case Management.

Advanced Case Management

The Advanced Case Management services groups all the software specific industries need to provide complete case management from beginning to end. This new strategy, which is how IBM describes it, brings together elements of IBM's content management, enterprise content management, BPM, analytics and social software to provide a complete package that enables cross-industry co-operation between practitioners as well as reusable case management templates.

InfoSphere Warehouse Pack

Again, focusing on business analytics, InfoSphere Warehouse includes report templates and data warehouse tables that enable users to understand metrics like purchasing behavior, conversion rates and marketing campaign success.

It is also providing updates to Industry Models, specifically for the banking and insurance sectors that will enable clients to build databases specific to their industry and enterprise.

IBM A Business Analytics

When IBM finally closed the deal on NICS earlier this year it made no bones about the fact that it wants the number one spot in the business analytics space.

Since 2005 it has invested US$ 10 billion in 14 strategic acquisitions to build its business analytics portfolio, as well as developing seven business analytics centers of excellence which contributed largely to Big Blue’s strong results in 2009, generating 9 percent revenue growth.

The development of their analytics capabilities has been ongoing for some time and includes the acquisition of Cognos three years ago and SPSS in 2008.

At the time of the SPSS deal market research company IDC suggested that Big Blue held a 0.5% share of the US$ 1.5 billion worldwide advanced analytics market in 2008. Combined with SPSS, IBM now holds 14.5% share of the market, trailing only SAS Institute Inc.'s 33% share.

At this point there seems little to stop IBM’s business analytics ambitions and all that remains at the moment is to see when and what is next.