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IBM preps 'BI-lite' productivity app

IBM preps 'BI-lite' productivity app

IBM next month plans to release a new software product designed to bring business intelligence-style data views to the masses. The goal is to make it easier for workers to transform business objectives into accomplished tasks that align with an organization's larger strategy.

Formerly code-named "Teton," the new offering has been officially christened IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution.

The application pulls from a smorgasbord of technologies available through IBM's Workplace collaboration and portal software framework. The demonstration I viewed this week showed team collaboration tools, search, portal technologies, and document management all working in concert to visually map out the process of reaching business goals.

The software is not a separate BI application, but will have a BI look and feel, with dashboard analytics and views of data pulled from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft data warehouses.

Whereas top executives and project leads typically use a BI enterprise app, "this [application] is on everyone's desktop," said Larry Bowden, vice president of IBM Workplace Software Solutions at the IBM Software Group.

"Top executives have had this capability," he said. "We've taken that executive value and are bringing it down to the rest of the organization so [all] workers can see their portion of an objective."

Portlets and Web services are used to import data to the Workplace for Business Strategy Execution application.

"It can take BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) flows, choreographies, portlets, Web services, and can import Excel spreadsheet metrics," Bowden said.

It also supports dashboards, portlets, and analytic tools from other vendors.

The tool helps workers outline a project's objectives, monitor progress, and assign accountability for specific steps.

The data is conveyed to users visually through scorecards, which can be acted upon in real time via collaboration tools, and in-context dashboards. Furthermore, workers can see maps of relationships with other workers, business units, and external organizations such as suppliers.

One of the biggest benefits of the application is that users don't have to call the IT department to set it up, Bowden said.

"It gives more power to people to move on objectives and manage achievements themselves," he said.

Next up for Workplace are two line-of-business productivity modules targeting sales professionals as well as compliance and risk-management officers. The sales module will include features to coordinate information for sales opportunities, figures, bonuses, competitors, and customer information. The compliance module will offer visual dashboards to help workers see areas of the organization that meet or don't meet compliance regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA.

IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution is available now in beta form. General availability will begin in October.


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