Executive Summary

  • This article is part of our honest vendor series, which is one of the only ratings of vendors rather than applications.
  • The vendor quality is critical to the decision making process as software purchases have a high long term involvement by the software vendor.


A company that needs no introduction, IBM has been one of the giants in computer hardware and software since there was computing. It now makes most of its income from software and consulting.

Quality of Information Provided

IBM provides a deficient quality of information to its customers.

Consulting and Support

IBM Global Services is one of the major consulting companies. As IBM is more services business than software-driven, IBM has a great deal of credibility with some clients with regards to technical advice. However, the problem is that all of IBM’s advice comes with a substantial financial bias – that is, they are serving as a “trusted advisor.” Still, curiously all of their recommendations lead to the selection of either IBM or partner software (i.e. Oracle or SAP) for which they have large numbers of resources for which they can bill. How a firm can be both a trusted advisor while they both own applications, and have resources trained on specific products, is difficult to understand. It is a joke. IBM has a clear and indisputable conflict of interest in any recommendation it makes. IBM, as with any of the large consulting companies, lengthens the number of time projects take to maximize billing hours, and has their clients implement very complex applications which are most often uncompetitive solutions.

Internal Efficiency

IBM’s is a large company with a correspondingly low-efficiency level.


IBM was, at one time, an innovative company and is still the number one producer of patents in the US. However, this is entirely not evident from evaluating their applications. IBM is one of the great Fake Innovators. This is a bit like analyzing Microsoft, which has 90,000 people that work for it, but it is impossible to tell from actually analyzing the company’s output.

When one looks at IBM’s enterprise software offerings, they are almost entirely acquired applications that receive very little software development and typically obsolesce several years after the acquisition. IBM advertises its innovation in areas like hardware, and it does employ scientists that do actual research, and in things like “big data,” but we rate them as a laggard and a last choice in data applications. IBM’s large number of patents may have something more to do with how the company has the resources to invest in the patent process. This is expensive, and IBM’s weak actual innovation compared to its patent ownership also says something about software patents generally, which are by many patent experts not considered particularly legitimate. It also says something about our patent system that it can be gamed by large companies like IBM that have the resources to put into patent applications creating the illusion of innovation. As a counterpoint, none of the best of breed software vendors that we analyze, that are the most innovative companies have very many patents.

IBM is primarily a serial acquirer for software that it does not improve, and which it then uses its connections into its large customer base to sell into.

Vendor Scores

Honest Vendor Ratings

Search for the vendor in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table. Shortening Key: 
  • VC = Vendor Consulting
  • VS = Vendor Support
  • QIP = Quality of Information Provided
  • IE = Internal Efficiency
  • I = Innovation
  • C = Category
  • ACS = Average Category Score
Average Score for the BI Heavy Software Category6. HeavyCategory Average
Average Score for the BI Light Software Category7.76.756.36.8BI LightCategory Average
Average Score for the CRM Software Category5. Average
Average Score for the PLM Software Category7. Average
Average Score for the Production Planning Software Category7.36.765.25.7Production PlanningCategory Average
Average Score for the Small and Medium ERP Software Category7. and Medium ERPCategory Average
Average Score for the Supply Planning Software Category7. PlanningCategory Average
Average Score Score for the Demand Planning Software Category7. PlanningCategory Average
Average Score for the Big ERP Software Category4. ERPCategory Average
Actuate77865BI HeavyApplication Specific
Arena Solutions91010810PLMApplication Specific
AspenTech43437Production PlanningApplication Specific
Base CRM88997CRMApplication Specific
Birst8888.59BI HeavyApplication Specific
Business Forecast Systems991098Demand PlanningApplication Specific
Delfoi888.548Production PlanningApplication Specific
Demand Works99101010Supply PlanningApplication Specific
ERPNext888.5109Small and Medium ERPApplication Specific
FinancialForce10109109.5FinancialApplication Specific
Hamilton Grant89.589.58PLMApplication Specific
Intacct1010999.5FinancialApplication Specific
Intuit88966.5FinancialApplication Specific
JDA3.53422Demand PlanningApplication Specific
Microsoft45211Small and Medium ERPApplication Specific
MicroStrategy87777BI HeavyApplication Specific
NetSuite65644CRMApplication Specific
OpenERP788.587Small and Medium ERPApplication Specific
Oracle52111ManyApplication Specific
PlanetTogether91081010Supply PlanningApplication Specific
Preactor787.533Production PlanningApplication Specific
ProcessPro1089109Small and Medium ERPApplication Specific
QlikTech87589.5CRMApplication Specific
Salesforce73866CRMApplication Specific
SAS971077Demand PlanningApplication Specific
SugarCRM44553CRMApplication Specific
Tableau101091010BI LightApplication Specific
Teradata98.58.568BI HeavyApplication Specific
ToolsGroup1010999Demand PlanningApplication Specific
SAP53111ManyApplication Specific

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Software Selection Package for BI Heavy

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Software Selection Package for Big ERP

Software Selection Package for CRM