IBM Industry Summit: Smart Planet, Smarter Business Opportunity For Partners
At this morning’s kickoff keynote session at the IBM Industry Summit here in Barcelona, IBM general manager, Rich Hume, IBM Global Business Partners, set the tone for the day and the event by highlighting what he hoped IBM’s partners and customers would gain from the next few days. In the process, he also outlined the large business opportunity looming on the horizon.
Referring to the IBM growth roadmap, which IBM CEO Sam Palmisano shared with the analyst community earlier this year, Hume explained that IBM would grow in four notable areas through 2015, including through its Smarter Planet effort, business analytics, cloud computing, and in growth markets.
Each would contribute its own sizable share of market opportunity, and IBM, as well as its partners, are poised to share in the bounty — but only if they cultivate a renewed sense of focus around core industry expertise, and by providing industry-specific solutions for IBM clients.
Hume then passed the baton to Mike Rhodin, IBM vice president, IBM Software Solutions Group, who spent the next 45 minutes articulating the details and challenges of that business opportunity, and who explained the key role IBM Business Partners would be playing in this renewed industry focus.
Joking that “We even brought the Pope in over the weekend to bless the event,” Rhodin then got down to business by asking a simple question: “Why are we all here, in Barcelona, in the middle of the fourth quarter?”, a courtesy nod to the investment in time and money of so many key IBM partners to gather for several days here.
The answer was multifold: The world today looks very different than it did a decade ago. The Internet of commerce has radically evolved to the Internet of “people and of things.” Rhodin cited the enormous amount of transistors (over 1B) in the world, of the enormous number of people connected to the Internet, and to the Internet RFID tags and those transistors, all of which was producing an enormous amount of new data (some 15 petabytes per day!).
The Internet of things was expected to soon reach 1 trillion, but what of it if companies and institutions aren’t in a position to take full advantage of that data and turn it into actionable insight, new products and services, and the like.
With a nod to social media, Rhodin then explain that “the Internet’s really about people and how they connect on a global scale,” joking (but still serious) that we’ve even invented new words that were unheard of a decade ago (“friending”), and that social networking has become the basis of how a globally connected world interconnects and communicates.
Of course, the Internet of Things is its own interconnection, one between the digital and physical world. High percentages of the world’s population are now online and creating unheard of amounts of data.
But what do you do with it all? It’s great we’re collecting it all, said Rhodin, and it’s coming in real-time, but how does one make real-time decisions based on this, how does one use fact-based analytics to make better decisions, and to steer away from our legacy of making decisions centered on batched, historical, and increasingly out-dated information???
Rhodin then captured the essence of the discussion in one small sound byte (which also nicely set up IBM senior VP Jon Iwata’s following talk on market-making…more on that in a future post):
“Smarter planet is not a marketing campaign…it’s a description of what’s happening in the world.”
Rhodin then probed on what it would take for IBM and its partners to fully capitalize on how they could respectively capitalize on the opportunity and help one another.
For example, by taking proven solutions, patterns, and capabilities, and then applying those techniques to new domains.
The explosion of new information — when integrated, analyzed, and acted upon using new types of intelligence — enables solutions that help build a smarter planet, and increasingly, through industry-specific approaches.
We can now actually predict traffic jams 45 minutes into the future, Rhodin explained, and then make that analysis a closed loop process that allows traffic monitors to adjust the timing of their traffic lights on the fly in order to prevent those jams from ever happening. (And hearkening back to my posts from the Information on Demand conference from two weeks ago, that’s why the Big Data chicken has to cross the road!)
Rhodin explained that CEOs don’t wake up thinking to themselves, “I need to buy a server today.” (Well, most of them.) No, they’re looking for a way to stay competitive in an increasingly complex world (see yesteday’s set-up post for more from the IBM Global CEO Study).
That means IBM and its partners have to change what and how we sell moving forward.
Our clients, Rhodin explained, need repeatable solutions and industry expertise (and yet only one-third of partners believe they are well-prepared to address customer industry solution needs).
There is currently too much first generation delivery, when customers (and partners, for that matter) don’t want to start over on a new version every single instance of change. They want to build on what they have.
Rhodin then explained a recent customer scenario, whereby IBM, in a retail context, offered up new value by helping the customer achieve a specific desired outcome (in this case, dynamic inventory optimization that would lead to 80-90% of inventory replinishment).
The key driver, Rhodin pointed out, was a strategic business driver, not an IT buying outcome.
Whether they be socioeconomic pressures, changing consumer behaviors, or competitive and/or technological considerations, the retail industry, again as the example here, is facing some substantive pressures. But by identifying and working to resolve specific industry-relevant outcomes, IBM and its partners will be able to both seize the momentum and start to create industry opportunity.
Continuing the example into the new world, smarter IBM retail industry solutions would create several layers of value: a smarter shopping experience, one that’s more personalized; smarter merchandising and supply chain, which delivers localized, relevant, and tailored offerings and optimized inventories; and smarter operations, which drive operational excellence through cost efficient management of people, processes and technology.
Rhodin also explained how IBM’s hungry acquisition spree filled in key aspects of IBM’s solution marketplace needs, from the predictive analytics capabilities of SPSS to the risk management profile of OpenPages.
This, along with the industry context, will allow partners to bring together the best of IBM hardware, software, and services the way customers increasingly want to buy.
In the meantime, Rhodin indicated that IBM was expanding its industry focus through the announcement of its 13th industry framework here at the event, the Product and Service framework for the manufacturing sector.
Pointing to the Industry Solutions expo next door, Rhodin explained “With the solutions center next door, what we hope to do is show you how far we’ve come already, and where we’re going, with the capabilities we think you need to win in the marketplace.”
He indicated that the biggest fear IBM’s competitors had in the market was if IBM ever got its act together across the entirety of its business, integrated by a common fabric (such as the industry-contexts).
“Well,” he said, “it’s happening. Integrated Industry Solutions bring smarter planet to life. But we can’t do it alone. We need you to invest, to build skills. We’re going to provide thought leadership, assets, training, and the like, and the air cover in the marketplace on a global scale.
He concluded: “We’ll provide the market – but we need you to engage.”