IBM has expanded its sprawling Information on Demand (IoD) portfolio by adding a raft of products and services designed to gather business intelligence from corporate data.

Big Blue also revealed that it is creating a new "Information Applications" software unit. The division will focus on developing industry-specific analytic applications in areas like human capital management and financial performance, according to IBM, which kicked off its Information on Demand conference in Berlin this week.

One new application is InfoSphere Clinical Analytics for Healthcare Providers, which pulls together and analyses information from various sources, such as lab and billing systems. The software could be used to spot trends, such as which drugs are working best for patients with similar conditions, according to IBM.

Big Blue is also planning to embed statistical analysis technology from SPSS into future editions of its Cognos BI (business intelligence) and performance management tools. The added capability will provide new analytics for government agencies, financial services and life sciences customers, IBM said.

In addition, IBM announced a new services division dedicated to analysing unstructured text, such as that found in email and call centre documents.

IBM is also rolling out a number of new services meant to help customers reduce their use of paper. They include a free workshop by IBM content management specialists, which will result in an estimate of the business' paper costs, as well as more in-depth assessment and analysis service for a fee.

The new offerings join a considerable array of others falling under the Information on Demand initiative, which IBM launched several years ago and has since powered through a continuous stream of acquisitions, including Cognos and data archiving vendor Princeton Softech.

Rather than competing head-on with packaged business application giants like SAP and Oracle, through the IOD strategy IBM is focusing on data management, delivery and analysis products and services that make applications work more effectively.

The IOD conference continues through Friday in Berlin.

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