IBM has launched an initiative aimed at capturing a share of the fast-growing market for business intelligence and data-warehousing tools. According to Anita Au, manager of business intelligence solutions for IBM's Greater China Group, the company is focusing on providing complete solutions, which she says gives it an advantage over competitors. With analysts forecasting the business intelligence market will be worth US$70 billion by 2001, many companies, including Oracle, Sybase, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and NCR, are offering their own products. 'Customers are asking more and more from us. They want somebody who is not just a tools provider, or a technology provider; they want an integrated solution,' Ms Au said. IBM's product is based on proprietary hardware such as the RS/6000 and AS/400, as well as software such as the DB2 database. With so much of the world's data stored in these systems, IBM had a tremendous advantage, because of its understanding of data, Ms Au said. It also has added several data analysis tools. DB2 OLAP Server, launched earlier this year, allows on-line analytical processing (Olap) against data stored in a DB2 database, while Intelligent Miner is a data-mining tool. IBM also has launched DecisionEdge Solutions, a range of products including both hardware and software aimed at a variety of customers. IBM also would take advantage of its consulting and service businesses, Ms Au said, meaning it could provide 'an end-to-end solution' for customers. This push into business intelligence was tied in with IBM's long-running attempt to capture the e-business market, she said. 'Business is moving more and more away from the face-to-face area, with ATM machines and the Internet. Companies have less and less information from seeing customers face to face, and need to use business analysis to know who their customer is,' she said. 'We think the new era of e-business is pushing us more and more into business analysis.' To promote this initiative, IBM will host a seminar on Thursday at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.