While a significant set of analytics tools is just about mandatory for large enterprises at this point, smaller businesses are heading that way too. To help them on their way, IBM (news, site) has just released an ‘express’ version of their analytics product, Cognos, which it targeted specifically at the SMB space.

IBM has made analytics a core plank of its business strategy. Thus far, it’s been a successful strategy, with recent figures for Q4 showing a jump in revenues of 40%, and it seems as if Big Blue expects figures to increase again within the small and mid-size space.

Cognos Express Planner

Details about Cognos Express Planner are still sparse, as the release is only scheduled for today, but IBM has described it as an application for automating the planning, budgeting and forecasting of business operations, without the need for IT interventions.

Specifically, it offers midsized organizations integrated and collaborative software capabilities to build financial plans, identify performance gaps, prioritize resources and provide insights into current profit and potential growth.

Currently, IBM research says many organizations in this market space are still using manual spreadsheets, and with little or no analytics, which makes predicting markets and mitigating risk a complicated and work-intensive affair.

Cognos Express Planner will cut the planning and analysis cycles by up to 75%, IBM says, and will make predicting changing markets easier and quicker.

Analytics in 2011

And IBM has been quick off the mark here. Research commissioned by IBM shows that most mid-sized companies have put the recession behind them and will be focusing on the deployment of new technologies, particularly analytics, over the next 12 months.

These companies will also be looking for collaboration software, mobile content provision and CRM solutions, the cost of which will be covered by investments in the cloud rather than on-premise software.

The research, which is contained in the Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective report, carried out independently by KS&R, is the result of survey done across 20 countries of more than 2000 mid-sized companies.

Learning Opportunities

At the core of the research is the perception by companies that business analytics is going to deliver better customer insight -- with 70% of those surveyed actively looking at some kind of analytics software to promote business growth.

Key drivers of these solutions include assisting midsize businesses in:

  • Improving efficiencies (37%)
  • Improving customer targeting and information / knowledge (37%),
  • Driving expansion strategies (15%).

Data Explosion

IDC (news, site) predicts that total data volume will reach 35,000 exabytes in 2020, compared to 1,200 exabytes in 2010, representing a 29 fold increase in the next 10 years.

SMBs will not be immune to this growth, with interest in analytics a direct response to the data growth that is already noticeable across most industries.

IBM has responded to that by developing more products or, as in the case of the Netezza US$ 1.7 billion acquisition last year, buying more technologies aimed at making analytics a possibility for smaller companies.

With Cognos Express Planner, it has continued in that vein. Watch this space for more details later this week.