Just last week, IT Business Edge's Loraine Lawson wrote a fine post on the idea of using mashups for business intelligence applications, freeing business users to produce BI reports using data from a variety of sources with little, if any, intervention from IT. As Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus says in a recent TechTarget article Loraine cites in her post:
... Mashups enable nontechnical users to build dynamic views of disparate data that are personalized, context-rich, role-tailored, and ad hoc to explore this data in greater depth.
As if right on cue, IBM, one of two companies Kobielus mentions in the article as a vendor with enterprise BI mashup expertise (the other is Microsoft with its Project Gemini), rolled out a new integration that connects its Cognos BI software with a new version of IBM's Mashup Center.
As related on ReadWriteWeb, the Cognos 8 Mashup Service is an API (application programming interface) that exposes BI information from the Cognos platform, enabling it to be used as a Web service in mashups and other enterprise applications. Through the Mashup Center user can access a variety of data sources.
In a demonstration at last week's On Demand Conference, IBM managers dragged Google Gadgets into the Mashup Center along with Cognos data to create a case for sales projections. Adding social elements, they showed how users could view recent changes to the mashup, ratings of mashups, tags, a list of most discussed mashups and a wiki. It's also possible to integrate data from Microsoft's SharePoint and IBM's WebSphere MQ and FileNet into the mashups.
It's not all about the business users. The Mashup Center's has goodies for IT as well:
ReadWriteWeb's Alex Williams calls it "a surprising demonstration from a company we have become trained to believe is focused almost entirely on heavyweight business technologies." Maybe so, but IBM has been rolling out interesting demos of tools more commonly associated with startups for a while now.
The Cognos 8 Mashup Service/Mashup Center connection encompasses BI and collaboration, two areas in which IBM has been especially active for the past 18 months. Expect to see more activity, including acquisitions. Ambuj Goyal, IBM's general manager for business analytics, noted at the conference the company has spent $12 billion in the last five years on BI and data analytics and isn't done shopping for companies like Cognos and SPSS.
Among IBM's more interesting announcements in recent months: an expansion of its Information On Demand software, including industry-specific analytic applications; its acquistion from Exeros of software assets, which are designed to find hidden relationships in databases; and a new Text Analytics Group that will focus on managing unstructured data from sources such as e-mail, call center notes and Web pages.