IT professionals should be looking to create an "Information Agenda" says IBM. And the company is devoting a lot of attention to the subject at its Information on Demand conference where delegates will be bombarded by a rash of product and services announcements and a lot of discussion about how to create an "Information Agenda."

IBM launched the IOD strategy, which pulls together a wide range of data management, storage and analysis technologies, a few years ago. Since then, IBM has made a string of acquisitions to support IOD, including the large BI vendor Cognos.

Announcements at this year's conference are expected to include:

  •  "Foundation Services," which consist of a one-day workshop followed by 12 weeks of follow-up consulting, that are meant to help customers create an "Information Agenda." IBM hatched the phrase in September when it announced a set of tools, services and industry-specific data models for helping companies use information "as a strategic asset across their businesses."
  • The C3000 and C4000 editions of the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, which are data-warehousing appliances aimed at small and medium-size businesses, now include Cognos 8 BI.
  • Seven new performance management and financial offerings based on Cognos technology. Among them are Clinical Resource Planning, for pharmaceuticals to perform modeling and forecasting, and Earned Value Management, which federal agencies can use to monitor capital spending.

The company is also expected to discuss news around MDM (master data management), ECM (enterprise content management) and a range of releases due before the end of the year from its Optim product line, which it acquired through the purchase of Princeton Softech in 2007. Optim products focus on data archiving, classification, data privacy and test data management.

IBM's IOD strategy is broadly relevant simply because so many companies "have bet the business on a large swath of IBM solutions," said Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus. In a weak economy, customers may consider consolidating their data management technology "down to fewer, but more strategic and comprehensive, vendors, such as IBM," he added.

As far as the BI portion of its arsenal, IBM could be in a better position to innovate in coming years than its rivals Oracle and SAP, according to Forrester analyst Boris Evelson.

Oracle still has a good deal of work to integrate products from its Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, while SAP, which last year bought BI vendor Business Objects, has "some tough decisions to make on how to help their customers migrate from Netweaver BI to the new product line," Evelson said.

Meanwhile, the IBM-Cognos merger saw few product overlaps and Cognos "already took the time a few years ago to streamline and upgrade the platform," he said.