It was an exciting set of news and updates around IBM PA at the IBM Data and AI Conference in Miami last week. Through a variety of presentations by IBM Offering Management as well is in private meetings with IBM executives, we felt a renewed buzz and commitment to the platform by senior business executives at IBM. It is clear that the system is front and center in the overall Data and AI strategy and IBM continues to commit resources to further the platform development.
We feel that IBM, as promised, did a great job to continue enhancing the platform over the last 6-12 months. These tactical, step-by-step updates, were focused on enhancing the core set of features and capabilities as well as improving the performance and stability of the platform. The roadmap includes a number of more strategic updates and we feel that many of them are well along the way. While IBM did not provide any specific timelines or deadlines for individual deliverables, we would not be surprised if there will be a lot of accomplishment to discuss by the IBM Think conference in San Francisco in May 2020.
A high level outline of the key areas of focus is the following:
The “TM1” Name is Back!
In a move that is widely applauded by the core User and Business Partner base, IBM is bringing the “TM1” name back. The name has great recognition across the user base globally. Over and over we continue getting the question “What is the difference between IBM PA and TM1”. This marketing adjustment will bring more clarity to the platform and reduce confusion. The new marketing tagline is “IBM Planning Analytics powered by IBM TM1”.
IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW)
Some of the key recent enhancements to PAW include rich text formatting, action buttons, wider variety of fonts, drill up on visualization, corporate themes and other features. In addition to ongoing updates to core features, focus continues on making Workspace the primary modeling interface and close the gap to Architect. At this stage, a lot of the capabilities are in place with only minor items remaining (cube locking, drill definition and others).
IBM Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX)
The Excel add-in has been significantly improved and stabilized over the last 3-6 months. It seems that major gaps to Perspectives have been substantively closed. Key future focus areas include use of virtual hierarchies in all reports, adding relative proportional spread as an option, further enhancing flexibility of Quick reports as well as continued tackling of small fixes and enhancement requests
Integration with Cognos Analytics (BI)
Further integrating IBM PA and CA across all platforms and configurations (On-Prem, Cloud Dedicated, Cloud Standard etc) is a top priority. With native integration in place, the ability to cross-leverage the platforms across all deployment options is still a work in progress from both technical as well as licensing perspective. Efforts to provide on-demand integration as well as give individual users access will provide great price flexibility to users with both platforms.
Cloud Capacity Increase
To accommodate larger customers and more complex model in the Cloud, IBM provides additional memory options beyond 512GB with as much as a 2TB capacity limit as part of a standard offering. While we never really saw the current memory limit as a model limitation, with the cloud adoption gaining further momentum this will make migration of large enterprise customers more viable.
Guided Navigation / Modeling
After a long time discussing various approaches to Workflow and collaboration, it seems that IBM is taking a simplified and more intuitive / faster approach to the problem. Based on some of the wireframe pictures and views it seems that this will be a simple and intuitive way to provide a customized work environment with guided navigation. It will provide more of an “Application” look and feel that will offer more configuration options to the end users and will be more intuitive to deploy. That in turn will drive adoption and reduce time to market, especially for smaller players.
Licensing Options and Overall Value
IBM is introducing a number of new licensing options that will likely make the platform even more accessible to small companies and provide a cost effective option to adopt and grow the application starting with a small user base. In addition to this, IBM introduced a number of competitive pricing offers and sales plays in 2019 that will make the option very attractive.