IBM Focuses on Big Data, Cloud, Engagement in 2014

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-03-10 Print this article Print

In recent quarters, IBM’s revenue from growth markets has been down. For the fourth quarter of 2013, revenues from the company’s growth markets decreased 9 percent; specifically revenues in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — decreased 14 percent.

“From a geographic perspective, performance in growth markets was mixed, though disappointing overall,” said Martin Schroeter, IBM’s senior vice president and CFO of Finance and Enterprise Transformation, during a call with analysts to report the fourth-quarter earnings. “Looking at our two largest regions, Asia Pacific was down, primarily driven by China, while again we had good performance in Latin America.”

And with its new focus on three strategic initiatives, IBM is aiming to see things turn around. In an interview with eWEEK, Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM’s Big Data and Analytics Group, said, “Ginni organized the company, specifically the Software Group, around those transformative tenets. And basically set the rest of the company as ecosystems around those bases.”

In her letter, Rometty called data a natural resource. “In its exponentially increasing volume, velocity and variety, data is becoming a new natural resource,” she said. “It promises to be for the 21st century what steam power was for the 18th, electricity for the 19th and hydrocarbons for the 20th. This is what we mean by enterprises, institutions and our planet becoming smarter.”

She noted that the market for data and analytics is estimated at $187 billion by 2015. “To capture this growth potential, we have built the world’s broadest and deepest capabilities in big data and analytics—both technology and expertise," she said. “We have invested more than $24 billion, including $17 billion of gross spend on more than 30 acquisitions. We have 15,000 consultants and 400 mathematicians. Two-thirds of IBM Research’s work is now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing. IBM has earned 4,000 analytics patents. We have an ecosystem of 6,000 industry partners and 1,000 university partnerships around the world developing new, analytics-related curricula.”

The company’s data and analytics portfolio includes decision management, content analytics, planning and forecasting, discovery and exploration, business intelligence, predictive analytics, data and content management, stream computing, data warehousing, information integration and governance, Rometty said. It also sets the foundation for IBM’s foray into cognitive computing, which resulted in the Watson cognitive system.

In January, IBM announced a $1 billion investment to create the IBM Watson Group, to accelerate the era of cognitive systems and extend IBM's position in the big data space. IBM officials said the new group, headquartered in New York City’s Silicon Alley, is the most significant new stand-alone unit since IBM used the same approach to establish the global PC standard.

“Traditional computing systems, which only do what they are programmed to do, simply cannot keep up with big data in constant motion,” Rometty said. “For that, we need a new paradigm. These new systems are not programmed; rather, they learn, from the vast quantities of information they ingest, from their own experiences, and from their interactions with people.”


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