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Thursday February 26 2:41 PM EST


IBM Sets "Business Intelligence" Initiative


SOMERS, N.Y. (Reuters) - IBM today unveiled a company-wide initiative to address the market for "business intelligence," which could be worth as much as $70 billion by the year 2000.

Business intelligence, defined as gathering, management, and analysis of data for use in decision making, can be applied in areas as varied as deciding which markets to enter, selecting and promoting products, and customer retention.

IBM said it has dedicated more than 2,500 specialists and developers to the effort. The company said the initiative includes a portfolio of network servers and other hardware, and data analysis and management and database software.

Also involved are the company's consulting and services practices. IBM said it entered a series of new partnership programs with outside companies as well.

In conjunction with the initiative, IBM said it entered specialized marketing and development agreements with a number of companies, including Cognos, Arbor Software and Business Objects.

New applications announced under the initiative include separate analysis suites for companies that use J.D. Edwards & Co or SAP transaction systems and want to create a data warehouse to make strategic use of data collected on day-to-day operations. Another, package, called SurfAid, is a data mining application that analyzes Web site usage.

IBM said the program also can be tailored to address industry-specific issues and includes applications designed for banking, telecommunications and other industries.

IBM said Citicorp's Citibank and Aetna U.S. Healthcare business were among the first to deploy IBM business intelligence. In Aetna's case, the techniques will be used to develop early detection programs for diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

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