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IBM Big Data & Analytics: Transforming Industries with Data


Beth Smith and Fred Balboni kicked things off at the IBM Big Data & Analytics Summit. IBM has been making big investments in data, Big Data and analytics. Increasingly they see customers using data for competitive advantage in new ways, taking advantage of the cloud for development and deployment. In particular they see their customers using data to drive new levels of engagement. Clients are focusing on a strategic approach to leveraging data and analytics – driving growth, improving decision-making and delivering competitive advantage. Customers from healthcare to insurance to telco and government are using data and analytics to really transform how they operate. If organizations are not using data (and analytics) to reinvent their business process or create new ones then that organization is going to be in trouble.

IBM feels it has a deeper portfolio of data and analytics technology than its competitors. With 15,000 analytic experts, more than 100K people trained on the power of analytics, an increasing portfolio of big data/analytics solutions on their cloud marketplace.

IBMArchitectureThey showed a great architecture with the various moving parts. I liked the focus on predictive anlaytics and Decision Management on the delivery side and the breadth of their focus on the data management side. Personally I am not sold on the Cognitive piece as being so central but we’ll see.

What IBM  is trying to do with its architecture is allow for real-time actionable insight with support for real-time context and streaming data – a serious move from the traditional batch orientation of analytics to a real-time, decision management focused orientation.

IBM has packaged up all the analytic capabilities that underpin their solutions as IBM Watson Foundations – Decision Management, Content Analytics, Performance Management, Discovery and Exploration and all their information management capabilities. Not obvious how Watson itself fits into this. Meanwhile IBM has been investing both in organic product development and acquisition.

IBM sees various shifts driving the challenges and opportunities in analytics. The internet of things and the digitization of business are creating massive new data sources that offer potential for transformation. Cloud based computing is changing the economics of analytics. And these come together to change the way organizations see and interact with customers and employees. Plus the scope of analytic users, both developers and consumers of analytics, expands to include more and more employees.

IBM has 4 key investment areas:

  • Redefine the experience so everyone can use analytic insight
  • Deepen business relevance by tying to roles, industries, processes
  • Continuously curate data to drive analytics with a broad range of data
  • Use cloud to transform adoption (see our research on this)

Leading organizations are seeing analytics as a way to transform. Recent IBM studies show 75% using analytics for innovation/growth. Meanwhile proactively managing the customer experience drives significant increases in profit and many CEOs, 60%, see customer behavior impacting their business strategy.IBM sees its clients moving from data to insight to action and engagement. This is driving new buyers, new ways of working, new kinds of data and ultimately new kinds of actionable insight.

IBM is up to 15,000 analytic consultants, 14 labs, thousands of engagements and feels pretty strongly that it has the skills customers need to adopt analytics. Besides this investment in staffing and consulting, IBM has been investing in defining journeys for different industries and different phases of adoption to help their clients make this transition. It’s a very different world, he says, and while the underlying technology capabilities really matter it is essential to bring the business focus, the organizational change, the soft skills to bear too.


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