IBM Partnerworld: Transforming for growth

What do IBM's partners think about its acquisitions, the sale of its X86 server business and working with IBM in general? Dan Kusnetzky reports from the event.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

I'm attending IBM's PartnerWorld 2014. I'm hoping to learn more about what IBM's partners think about the sale of its X86 server business to Lenovo; IBM's creation of the Watson Group, a cognitive computing business unit; and what their view is of today's market. IBM has really filled up my dance card, so I may have trouble finding time to actually speak with an IBM partner. 

Here are quick thoughts about General Session presentations on the first day of the event.

Marc Dupaquier, General Manager, Global Business Partners

Dupaquier started by welcoming everyone and discussing how valuable this event is to IBM. Many of IBM's partner programs were brainstormed and validated at these events. 1,500 business partners from 70 different companies are in attendance in Las Vegas.

He went on to talk about how important a vibrant ecosystem is to everyone's success.

Transforming for growth is the theme of this event.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO IBM

Rometty is here to offer here observations about the industry and the forces at play. She pointed out that 20 percent of IBM's business comes through its business partners. She's hoping to persuade the partners to come along with IBM on the journey to transform to address industry shifts and take advantage of the opportunities this transformation offers.

She says that there are three transformations in process they are: data, cloud, and engagement. Let's look at those shifts.

  • Data - a new natural resource. It must be refined to be of use however. She says that 3 out of 4 customers have a Big Data project in process. IBM has invested $23 billion in Big Data.

    They've create $16 billion in big data/analytics business in 2013. Rometty pointed out that clients go to get value out of this data; then they move on to try to capture the time value of this data; and finally, they will move on to cognitive computing.

    She went on to talk about how Watson's ability to learn will help clients deal with the 2.5 quintillion bytes  of data that are generated on a daily basis. Watson has been busy learning about the financial and healthcare industries. She sees more in the areas of travel and retail.

  • Cloud - IBM is transforming enterprise IT to work in a cloud environment. Gometty points out that the company has invested $16 billion in cloud computing. She sees this as a new business model.

    She then went on to talk about the shifts there. Customers are first deciding what architecture to use. Rometty suggests that hybrid clouds are where the market is going. Clients are then going to look at how to manage data. Data has to be able to be managed as if it is on-premise. IBM has invested heavily in expanding it data center footprint. Clients are then going to focus on how they can accelerate how they can innovate.

  • Engagement - social, mobile and security are increasingly the foundation of a new culture. Clients expect value from the information they provide. They expect immediate response to a question. Security and trust are vital. She asserted that $1 trillion of retail revenues hang in the balance based upon these two factors.

Alastair Lukies, CEO, Monitise

Everything is connected below the service. People expect to be able to go to an ATM anywhere in the the world and access their funds using the same PIN. The common link between people is money. Everyone needs to be able to access their funds using their mobile devices. This means creating ways for financial institutions to connect with people on the move. It has to be made both more secure and much more easy. Lukies pointed out that one of his company's shareholders, Visa, believes that 50% of financial transactions will be done using mobile devices by 2020.

We live in the age of enablement. Customers must be able to bank anywhere, purchase anything and pay from anywhere. No single company can or does own customers. No one owns the customer but the customer him or herself.

Lukies then went on to discuss what it really takes to make this all work. The infrastructure has to be very robust. That's on the beginning he points out.  It's about looking forward and connecting the dots with many companies.

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