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IBM adds predictive analytics and social networking in Cognos 10

IBM unveiled the much-anticipated Cognos 10 business analytics platform as well as a new version of InfoSphere Server at its Information on Demand conference.

LAS VEGAS – The new version of Big Blue’s flagship business analytics software platform – IBM Cognos 10 – includes predictive analytics capabilities and embedded social networking software that allows decision makers to collaborate through wikis, blogs and virtual work rooms.

Cognos 10, which was unveiled today at IBM’s annual Information on Demand conference, also offers support for mobile devices, improved ease of use and the ability to more easily import unstructured data, said Rob Ashe, general manager of IBM’s business analytics division.

Under a new Cognos 10 licensing policy, the business applications giant will also support customers who choose to deploy the software in cloud computing environments. However, IBM is not offering its own cloud-based service for Cognos 10, although the company is looking into the possibility of deploying such a service in the future.

In past interviews, Ashe has said that typical “one size fits all” approaches to cloud-based computing services are not always the right choice for business intelligence (BI) and analytics software users because the technology is largely dependent on highly sensitive information that is unique to each customer. The new licensing policy, however, will allow IBM customers to deploy Cognos 10 with “their own data” in private or public cloud computing environments, Ashe said.

The new predictive analytics capabilities in Cognos 10 are the result of IBM’s $1.2 billion acquisition of predictive analytics specialist SPSS Inc. in 2009. Ashe said the SPSS technology, allows customers to, among other things, conduct “what if” analysis and gauge how current business trends will affect levels of supply and demand.

Newly included support for mobile devices will allow users to deploy Cognos 10 on the iPad, iPhones and BlackBerrys.

The ‘verdict is out’ on virtual communities at Visa
The new features in Cognos 10 will integrate social networking capabilities with Lotus Connections software, thereby removing the need for users to navigate “between views” to get to the right people and information, according to IBM.

“Collaboration features from Lotus Connections light up the ability to share information, create groups and threads and to enable collective intelligence,” R. Ray Wang, a founding partner and research analyst for enterprise strategy at San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group, said in an email interview.

The software will also offer users the ability to collaborate in social networking communities, similar to the “workspaces” offered in Microsoft SharePoint. But according to other recent interviews with IT industry analysts, managing “workspace sprawl” can be difficult and IT systems often become filled up with unused or empty workspaces.

Cognos user John Macilwaine, head of global development at Visa, said his IT team is still evaluating whether collaborative workspaces in Cognos 10 will make sense at their organization.

“We’re not ready to say that it’s going to be confusing or not,” Macilwaine said. “I think that our business users see value [in it], but from an IT perspective we’re still evaluating. I mean, this is new technology and I think the verdict is out on that.”

More Information on Demand news
In other Information on Demand news, IBM today unveiled a new version of its flagship data integration platform, IBM InfoSphere Server. Company executives said IBM InfoSphere Server 8.5 offers “faster and more accurate integration” of disparate sources of data as well as integrated capabilities meant to ensure data quality.

IBM said InfoSphere’s data quality features also improve the process of standardizing data throughout business units. For example, companies with offices in multiple countries can make sure that integrated data adheres to consistent name and address standards.

Meanwhile, IBM announced the release of new version of its DB2 database management system software for System Z. IBM says DB2 10 for z/OS offers a 40% performance improvement over its predecessor and includes new features like “DB2 Time Travel Query,” which allow users to more quickly access and analyze past, present and future data.

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