This blog provides an excerpt from an upcoming Perspective about IBM's Software Insights event that was held late last year in Stamford, CT. The event provided a good opportunity to gain further understanding of how IBM is positioning some of its newer "Smarter" focus areas, as well as glean how recent acquisitions in the cloud, customer engagement, and commerce space are permeating the IBM software ecosystem.
This past November, my colleague Kimberly Knickle and I attended the IBM Software Insights event in Stamford, CT. Designed to provide industry analysts with a closer look at the many areas in which IBM Software exists, the event began with a high-level recount of where IBM Software currently stands. Today, IBM has 4,000 products in its software portfolio, a number of which have come from the 20 acquisitions completed in the last 18 years. IT innovation was emphasized, pointing to the 80 IBM lab locations around the globe. As Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive Software & Systems explained, IBM needs to move fast, "because the market waits for no one." IBM identifies four converging trends that align with how IDC Manufacturing Insights sees the Third Platform evolving as the critical construct for manufacturers to embrace: big data, cloud, mobile, and social.
As we explained in our 2014 Worldwide Manufacturing Industry Top 10 Predictions, "third platform technologies (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) will come together to create a series of initiatives that deliver a platform for productivity" ( ). We call these initiatives 3D value chains, where 3D refers to demand oriented, data driven, and digitally executed. IBM's major themes during the event echoed IDC Manufacturing Insights and offered additional insight into how IBM is positioning itself relative to these four disruptive technologies.
The discussion around Smarter Commerce was of particular interest to IDC Manufacturing Insights, because despite the natural connotation that commerce is focused on selling to the consumer, we are seeing an increasing need in the market for manufacturers to more effectively reach their customers, who may be dealers, distributors, or ultimately consumers. IBM's Smarter Commerce offering is designed to help companies, including manufacturers, change their business so they interact with their customers differently.
IBM has invested more than $3 billion since 2010 in acquisitions related to Smarter Commerce, and today it brings to market an integrated offering that has four main components: buy, market, sell, and service. IBM also highlighted the variety of commerce services it offers as SaaS solutions, ranging from IBM Commerce on Cloud, to IBM Digital Data Exchange. The future strategy around Smarter Commerce SaaS includes "Commerce Everywhere" and Omnichannel Price Optimization. All of this is being enabled by SoftLayer, the underpinning of IBM Cloud.
A bright spot during the event had to do with IBM Design Thinking, a new approach to designing software products. It reflects the increasing alignment between today's business users and the technology that permeates their personal and working lives. IBM exhibited its understanding of this synergy and the important role the business leader plays in IT purchasing decisions today. Infusing software with design elements that appeal to today's connected business user is an imperative for enterprise software today. At the event, IBM shared examples of its IBM Design Thinking approach, and how IBM holds Designcamps for its product teams at the IBM Design Studio in Austin, TX. The company is making a commitment to design excellence and driving it throughout its product development. IDC Manufacturing Insights believes that IBM Design Thinking supports the 3D value chain and the creation of a platform of productivity in organizations.
For a closer look at how IBM is positioning is much talked-about cloud strategy, as well as its Smarter Analytics and Mobile First Initiatives, subcribers of our IT Priorities & Strategies and Manufacturing Commerce Strategies services can download the full report when it becomes available next week. In the meantime, I would welcome a discussion about IBM's Smarter Initiatives and how they are being implemented by manufacturers.