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IBM Launches Cognos Express Planner

Launched today, the IBM Cognos Express Planner is Big Blue's latest effort to win the hearts and minds of mid-sized organizations seeking to use software tools to drive a more integrated, automated, and collaborative approach to building timely financial plans. With performance and resources prioritization analytics, the company suggests that many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are still using manual spreadsheet planning processes to put information in perspective based on changing market conditions, mitigate risk, and capitalize on new business.

While IBM's assertions over the use of paper-based spreadsheet planning and old-school double entry bookkeeping are possibly somewhat exaggerated, the fact does remain that SMBs are less likely to use advanced business analytics and planning software to steer their businesses. With this in mind, IBM Cognos Express Planner is the company's way of offering planning, budgeting, and forecasting application deployment to those businesses in need of some ground level IT planning automation. This news is no major surprise given the IBM acquired Netezza for $1.7 billion back in September 2010 — a company specifically focused on producing low-cost mass-market analytics software.

IDC predicts that the total data volume will reach 35,000 exabytes by 2020, compared to 1,200 exabytes in 2010, representing a 29-fold increase in the next ten years. The pressure is therefore on for companies to do more with less in making sense of mountains of data.

IBM's recent Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective study of 2,000 mid-size companies revealed that 70% of midmarket leaders are either planning or currently implementing analytics in 2011.

According to the study, "Midsize firms are increasing their investment in IT, striking a balance between solutions that drive short term cost savings and those that enable revenue growth and stronger customer relationships. Globally, managing costs, improving efficiencies, driving up productivity and focusing on superior customer service are all cited as critical business priorities. The demands of today's 'new normal' financial environment require that midsize firms remain focused on efficiency and cost control. Given that, it is no surprise that in our study 76% of midsize businesses cite improving efficiency as a key priority, while 70% cite increasing employee productivity."

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