In Enterprise Systems, Stephen Swoyer concurs with my view that Oracle’s recent BI announcement was a big yawn. Moreover, he raises the interesting possibility of IBM buying Cognos, a rumor that has been circulating in the industry for several months. IBM has been strictly agnostic with regards to getting into applications, but that would not stop it buying a pure-play BI vendor. Clearly it has the financial resources to do what it wants, and I feel that Cognos would be a slightly more natural fit for IBM than Business Objects, as Cognos plays a little higher up the corporate food chain e.g. with its Adaytum budgeting acquisition. Of course IBM did buy Alphablox, but this was a small vendor that had some technology useful to IBM, so that did not really alter the big picture. Cognos is getting back on its feet after a stumble late in 2005, and has generally strong technology.
If you consider the broad landscape, the industry has its “stack wars”, with IBM, SAP (NetWeaver), Oracle (Fusion) and Microsoft. IBM is, in my view, the best placed here since it is the only one of these that does not have application turf to defend (even Microsoft has its applications to worry about, and like errant teenagers to its parents, a big worry they are). IBM has planted its feet firmly in the master data management landscape, and to me it would seem entirely complementary and consistent for it to make a big play into the business intelligence world. Acquiring a company the scale of Cognos would certainly be the kind of bold step that would demonstrate that IBM is very serious about this area. It would firm up its “stack”offering in a quite natural way. Of course I am not privy to the internal musings of IBM, but this rumor makes more sense than many.