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IBM's 'executive dashboard for everyone' out of beta, in users' hands

IBM last week officially released its IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution software, billed by the company as an "executive dashboard for everybody."

IBM last week officially released its IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution software, billed by the company as an "executive dashboard for everybody."

IBM Workplace for Business Strategy Execution (WBSE) uses a company's existing investments and presents business data from a variety of sources in intuitive dashboards. People can quickly assess status, drill down for further insight and collaboratively respond to projected shortfalls in achieving objectives. Employees can receive alerts from monitored systems and initiate corrective action. The software uses status maps and intuitive graphs to align tasks in a business process to the larger strategic objectives of an organization.

First reported on by SearchDomino on Sept. 21, the product is built on top of the Workplace Services Express portal. It utilizes portal, collaboration and application integration technologies and can leverage portlets, dashboards and analytic tools from multiple vendors.

Now, a month later, people have had a chance to evaluate the software, and the initial reports are good. For instance, in a report titled Has IBM Changed the Game for Dashboards and Scorecards? from Boston-based AMR Research, vice president John Hagerty and research analyst Jim Murphy give the software a thumbs-up, calling it "forward-thinking and innovative, unique, and worth trying on a well-defined basis."

While IBM says that the product is aimed at anyone -- not just IBM Workplace users -- in a follow-up interview, Hagerty told that the most likely users will be those who have a penchant toward using IBM products, particularly Lotus Notes/Domino users.

The AMR report foresees that growth for the product will be viral, as people who use it in one place will likely urge others to do the same. But the report goes on to say that "the idea that WBSE would extend outside of the enterprise—to partners, customers, and suppliers—may lead to further turmoil. On the other hand, we'll bet that such turmoil and conflict already exist in your organization, and that they're the main reason why you're not meeting your objectives and surpassing your competition.

Still, when asked how likely the software would achieve IBM's goal of being an executive dashboard for everyone, Hagerty noted, "It's a tall order for any piece of software to be software for everybody. There's nothing to prevent this software from being used by everybody, but there's also not a lot to foster it."

WBSE is available for SMBs and departmental deployments for $99 per user, or bundled with IBM Workplace Services Express portal infrastructure at $196 per user. It is also available for enterprise customers, priced at $95,000 per processor, or bundled with the WebSphere Portal infrastructure at $218,000 per processor.

Hagerty told that the most interesting thing about WBSE may be its aggressive pricing. "If you want to try it for a 25-person group, that's a very affordable outlay of only $2,500."

Other observers view the WBSE tool as one that will bring BI to the masses. "IBM is providing the infrastructure that will allow companies to bring together their business strategy and get those actions out to their employees. That's where the business intelligence component comes in," says Jayne Landry, alliances marketing director for BusinessObjects, an IBM business partner that provides the reporting, graphs, charts and BI tools for WBSE.

"We have a common goal with IBM to bring BI to the masses," says Landry. "With only 15% of companies investing in BI, we're finding BI is still a huge untapped market."

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