IBM Launches Center for Business Optimization

Center to Integrate Management Consulting, Advanced Mathematical Research, Business Intelligence and Deep Computing to Enable New Era of Real Time Business Optimization

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SOMERS, NY - 22 Sep 2004: IBM today announced the launch of the Center for Business Optimization, combining management consulting, advanced mathematical research, business performance management software capabilities and deep computing power to help solve some of the most complex problems facing businesses and government agencies around the world.

Over the past 20 years, companies have worked to automate individual business processes. Many companies are now trying to optimize their businesses by leveraging the data generated by these processes. To date, this work focused on interpreting historical data. But now, with the creation of the Center for Business Optimization, IBM will bring together capabilities designed to shift the focus to real-time business optimization.

The emergence of new technologies, consulting methodologies and computing power will, for the first time, enable IBM to help its clients manage highly diverse and imprecise data, creating the ability to make better business decisions in real time. The Center for Business Optimization will leverage these new capabilities to help companies and governments manage much more complex and unpredictable business and societal problems, while at the same time providing leaders of those organizations with a much more precise and understandable view of business performance.

The Center will be managed by Dr. William Pulleyblank. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Pulleyblank directed the Deep Computing Institute for IBM Research, and oversaw the development of Blue Gene, the world's most advanced supercomputer. IBM recently announced an initiative with Mayo Clinic, whereby Blue Gene technology will be used to conduct molecular modeling for medical research, helping understand diseases and identify cures at an unprecedented level.

"The Blue Gene project demonstrates what is possible when combining advanced science, analytics and computing power and applying them to previously unsolvable problems," said Dr. Pulleyblank. "The Center for Business Optimization will apply the same combined approach to a wide range of complex business problems, drawing resources from across IBM, working with universities, and other partners. And in doing so, the Center intends to develop standardized assets IBM can commercialize and deploy across industries and even economies to drive new levels of real-time optimization."

The Center for Business Optimization will draw upon the analytical resources of IBM Research, which hosts the largest population of management scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists in the industry. The Center intends to work closely with IBM's business strategy and business intelligence consultants of IBM Business Consulting Services, and the business performance management experts of the IBM Software Group. In addition, it plans to leverage the computing power of IBM's global network of on demand supercomputing centers, including those in Poughkeepsie, NY, Houston, TX, and Montpellier, France.

The Center plans to tackle the uncertainties and imprecision of managing real-time situations, going beyond the limitations faced by mathematicians in the past who were only able to design business models based on historical data of past events. For example, an airline can today manage its fleet based upon machine and personnel availability and historical data on flight schedule reliability. Disruptions to this predictable model usually result in delays, cancellations, irritated passengers and lost revenue. By contrast, in this scenario, the center would be able to work with airlines by both improving the ability to forecast disruptions caused by weather, staff shortages or any other variable in real-time, as well as applying massive computing power in an on demand manner to minimize the negative impact on passengers and on the airline's overall profitability.

"We will handle the operational challenges encountered in having a business respond minute-by-minute to a changing environment. We will deal with the extraordinary complexities of handling information of different scales, such as the effect of a drug, not only on the disease it attacks, but also on the patient 10 years later. We will understand the impact of a pricing change in one item on the financial value of a company," said Dr. Pulleyblank. "Through the Center for Business Optimization these kinds of problems are now solvable. IBM has a unique history of taking on complex science challenges. With this initiative we are going to apply that approach to the hardest business challenges of our clients. And, through the breadth and outreach of IBM's Global Services, we are going to make these capabilities available to our customers."

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