IBM Debuts Retail BI Package

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IBM also said it is launching a dedicated retail performance analytics practice within IBM Global Business Services (GBS). The services, offered in the Americas, Europe and Asia, will provide retail business intelligence consulting services in such areas as store planning, promotion management, customer loyalty, price optimization, and supply chain and financial management.

Until now IBM has marketed its Retail Business Intelligence Solution, a preconfigured data warehouse system based on the IBM InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse system. That package included the core database, data extraction and transformation tools, and data models geared toward the retail industry.

"What was missing from that was the user-facing solution," said Jim Zalles, a senior managing consultant in the GBS retail practices operation. To fill that void, IBM is adding query and reporting tools from Cognos, which it acquired one year ago, to run on top of the latest version of the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse retail industry package.

Cognos also provides analytical templates known as "performance blueprints" for analyzing retail store operations and determining the best locations for new stores. In addition, Cognos is developing more blueprints for analyzing retail marketing and merchandising operations, logistics, store layouts and supply chain management, among others, according to Zalles.

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While the new RPA software will be sold as a preintegrated turnkey system, Zalles said its components would also be sold to run with data warehouse technology from other vendors such as Oracle and SAP. IBM is developing links between the RPA system and ERP and retail applications from vendors such as Oracle and SAP, customer experience applications from Chordiant, and other third-party software.

The blueprints and other high-level analysis technology constitute proprietary IBM intellectual property and won't be sold through channels, Zalles said. But he said systems integrators and other partners could work with IBM to implement infrastructure and supporting technology for RPA systems.