IBM execs discuss software acquisition plans, targeting C-level gaps

IBM is close to the midway point in its acquisition road map to round out the resources needed to make its software solutions group "smarter."
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Orlando: IBM executives provided a quick progress report as well as updated goals for its smarter workforce strategy on Monday morning.

Speaking during a press conference at IBM Connect 2013, Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of Software Solutions at IBM, cited that the tech giant's software group will spend approximately $20 billion in acquisitions, which has already been outlined in the corporation's 2015 road map.

Essentially, IBM is buying up the resources it needs to make its software (and workforce) "smarter."

Rhodin estimated that IBM acquired "seven to eight" businesses last year, including the $1.3 billion acquisition of Kenexa, which has been key to the new software products being announced this week.

Citing that the majority of the acquisitions (at least within the Software Solutions group) has been in the "front office space," Rhodin added that they all have three common threads: They are all inherently social, mobile, and analytics based.

As seen during the opening keynote session on Monday, the tech giant is now aggressively pushing that we are in the midst of a new era of computing.

Social media and big data are some of the buzz words being tossed around not just by IBM but just about everyone these days. But beyond that, the future of what these technologies will do--at least in the business world--is still hazy.

Rhodin proposed that with every generational shift that occurs, there are "a set of signs and signals" that create a next-generation platform to emerge.

"Those don't happen very often. We're entering the third wave of computing technology--the third wave of systems," Rhodin posited.

He further defined that "stand-alone social" is a tool. Comparing IBM's acquisition plan to Microsoft's purchase of Yammer as one example, Rhodin argued that "social business" is the complete integration of analytics and software, among other elements, to connect employees and clients.

Rhodin described that social should essentially be "woven into the fabric" of all businesses processes going forward.

Addressing the needs of other C-level executives beyond CIOs is also a priority for IBM's smarter workforce initiative.

Alistair Rennie, general manager of Social Business at IBM, suggested this could be done by tackling gaps in businesses processes, such as the lack of end-to-end client solutions for chief marketing officers.

The IBM team cited an internal 2011 CMO study that found 82 percent of CMOs planned to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years to communicate with customers.

Rennie acknowledged that the smarter workforce strategy is "still very nascent," but he followed up quickly that it's starting to pick up further, pointing towards the software group's revenue highlighted during IBM's fourth-quarter earnings report last week.

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