We had the opportunity to attend IBM’s BigData & Analytics Summit 2014 held in June 11th and 12th in New York. Needless to say, that IBM has a staggering portfolio of Analytics and BigData products and services, just consider 15000 employees in the Strategy and Analytics practice. And the good news is that when IBM talks about analytics, it’s the ‘true’ analytics – the one that take an action, or at least suggest one (more on ‘true’ analytics here).

From many insights and learning points, here is the distillation of my top 3 takeaways:

  • Transformative Power of Analytics – While there is almost no vendor not talking about analytics today, there are fewer that understand ‘true’ analytics like IBM. What sets IBM apart is the understanding that analytics are truly transformational, and not just in one business dimension, but spanning all professions and business processes. Smith had a great slide representing the transformation for the C-Suite which illustrates well what impact BigData and Analytics have on enterprises and their care takers. And she delivered the punchline that executives that do not understand these key trends we be challenged in their careers and are likely going to trouble the success of their enterprise.

Slide from Smith's Presentation

  • Speed matters – It was also good to see that IBM realizes there is a limited time window for the opportunity to be one of the key players to leverage the transformation enabled by BigData and Analytics, so speed is of the essence. And IBM has certainly gained even more speed in 2013 as the below chart illustrates both trough internal R&D and acquisitions. 

Slide from Smith's Presentation

  • Watson is the differentiator – As previously stated, the cognitive capabilities of Watson are a key differentiator for IBM’s products and services. With the Watson Foundations IBM is betting on an ecosystem of consultants, developers, startups and mature ISVs to build cognitive applications on top of Watson Foundations. With BlueMix there is now a modern PaaS platform available that should help the adoption of next generation applications (in general, but also in the BigData and Analytics) space. 



IBM has a very attractive portfolio of capabilities across its analytical and BigData capabilities. Complemented with Watson, SoftLayer and BlueMix this becomes an even higher potential combination, as next generation applications can be built in a modern PaaS (BlueMix), leverage cutting edge cognitive insights (Watson) and can be deployed efficiently and flexibly through SoftLayer datacenters.

IBM now needs to make all these products work together, create value for IBM customers and partners and deliver more next generation application showcases. We know that IBM can build and deliver these with the help of GBS – but the real yardstick is to see them delivered as true cloud products, that create insights and spontaneous benefits to business users with no (or very little) involvement of consultants and IT professionals.

IBM’s massive GBS business in these regards is both a blessing and a curse. It’s is a blessing, that allows IBM to go further than any of its competitors and allows IBM to gain valuable insights from customer engagement. E.g. the transformative nature for the C-Suite is not as well understood in the market by competitors – and most likely the result of deep, cross project harvested, consulting insights delivered courtesy of GBS. The curse for IBM is, that it may fall short in regards of aggressive standardization, mass adoption based on viral distribution of its products, as well as the “holy grail” of analytics, the self-service setup and enablement of analytical applications by business (end) users. But that is still a few years out, realistically – so plenty of time for IBM to address and handle this challenge.


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