In the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Analytics, four IBMers from R&D, software, services, and strategy outline IBM's view of business analytics.
IBM identifies three broad categories of analytics activity: descriptive (what happened?), predictive (what will happen?), and prescriptive (what should we do?). As you move from descriptive activities to prescriptive, you are bringing more value to your organization.
The ILOG optimization and supply chain applications fit into the area of prescriptive and play a key role in IBM's overall strategy. The article sites an example:
In the supply chain area, advanced analytics are often used to produce and/or deliver a set of services or products as efficiently as possible in order to meet defined customer needs or demands. Advanced analytics techniques such as inventory optimization, advanced planning and scheduling of resources or production plans, and supply chain network design/optimization represent common ways that companies apply advanced analytics to improve their ability to minimize the costs of delivering upon a given set of business and marketing goals associated with perceived customer needs and desires.
Of course, prescriptive analytics does not stand alone. You need to provide input data, build this into an overall work flow, and be able to act on the results. IBM is uniquely positioned to help firms effectively compete with analytics. The last sentence of the article sums up IBM's business analytics strategy: "IBM is aiming to be the a market leader in business analytics."