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Live Blog: IBM PartnerWorld 2016, CEO Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty, formerly CEO, IBM
Ginni Rometty

Greetings from IBM PartnerWorld 2016, where CEO Ginni Rometty and Channel Chief Marc Dupaquier are addressing 1,400 partners from more than 80 countries. Check back frequently for channel partner updates involving IBM's analytics, cognitive computing, cloud services, security and mobile strategies.

Among the PWLC16 speakers we're expecting to hear from at IBM PartnerWorld 2016 this morning:

  • Ironside Group CEO Tim Kreytak. The IBM Premier Business Partner will put the spotlight on cognitive computing.
  • Analytics GM Neil Isford, reinforcing the rise of cognitive computing.
  • Cloud Senior VP Robert LeBlanc, hopefully driving home the rise of ISVs and MSPs on big blue’s cloud infrastructure. But that’s just our guess.
  • Watson Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Gold, connecting the dots between Watson and cognitive computing.

Here's a preview of the event. This blog will be updated in real-time starting at 9:00 a.m. ET.

Live Blog -- Real-time Updates

Cognitive computing, as expected, is the central theme opening the event. Only, IBM prefers to call it Cognitive Business.

Marc Dupaquier is taking the stage first...

  • People from 82 countries are represented in the room.
  • IBM business partners grew in every quarter in 2015, though no specific stats were offered, and "growth" wasn't defined in terms of revenue, number of customer engagements, etc.
  • Dupaquier is pointing to IBM partners that are exceeding revenue and customer goals in the Flash storage market.
  • It sounds like roughly 70 percent of the attendees grew their IBM-related revenues in 2015. IBM welcomed those that didn't grow, as well, because it shows loyalty and continued commitment to the IBM business.
  • Three announcements to track this week. (1) New partner program based on client success and more. (2) New SaaS acceleration program. And (3) IBM LinuxONE.

CEO Ginni Rometty

  • 2014 was the first big year of transformation around big data, cloud and mobility -- and the company refocused on its strategic imperatives.
  • 2015 was about partners differentiating in the world of hybrid cloud.
  • 2016 is about running a digital company or working to make your company more digital.
  • Digital is only the foundation -- "but it's not the final destination. The fourth shift is in front of us. The cognitive era will be the most disruptive and the most differentiating."
  • "We are now the world's largest big data enterprise company -- $18 billion last year."
  • Roughly 1 million people are involved in BlueMix, and 100 IBM SaaS products are now live.
  • "We've built the world's largest security company."
  • "Two of our rivals are coming together on yesterday's business model, and another is breaking apart on yesterday's business model," she said, pointing to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise/HP Inc. and Dell-EMC without mentioning them by name.
  • "We can't be more committed to a partner and ecosystem belief. We've always had partner programs but this is more than that. We're offering a platform for you to drive innovation in the ecosystem."
  • Key partners mentioned include LifeSize (pushing from video hardware to video conferencing in the cloud) with over 2,300 customers now on IBM SoftLayer. Systems integrators and resellers have added analytics to their solutions, she added, pointing to partners that have done hybrid cloud work in healthcare.
  • "Partners are now able to quantify the value to clients, and the time to value."
  • "Digital foundation does not diminish the importance of hardware," she said -- pointing to Flash-oriented storage.
  • Roughly 80 percent of data is now unstructured, and the advent of cognitive computing will bring order to the confusion. Watson now has 32 functions and 50 technologies under it, all accessible via APIs. Cloud coding will allow partners to "build thinking into anything you do."
  • "IBM is a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company, and everything we do is now focused on that. Those are not two separate things. They are one coin with two separate sides."

Ironside Group CEO Tim Kreytak

  • The IBM Premier Business Partner started as a Cognos partner and then adopted more and more IBM technologies.
  • He described a case study with a police department in New England.
  • Predictive hotspot software forecasts crime base on location, weather, history and more. It's basically location-based crime prevention.
  • The police department embraced IBM SPSS Predictive Analytics software, deployed by Ironside.
  • The net result: A 26 percent reduction in crime, including a decline of 12 percent on robbery, 21 percent on burglary and 32 percent on theft in 2015 vs. 2014.
  • Ironside has more than 100 employees, and 500 customers -- with a growing focus on packaged solutions that diversify the company's revenue streams. It's creating a culture of entrepreneurs within Ironside, he said.
  • The company also offers managed services and remote development, hosted on IBM SoftLayer.

IBM Analytics GM Neil Isford

  • Partners drove roughly 35 percent of IBM's analytics business in 2015, he said.
  • He points to five areas where partners can focus on cognitive solutions: Cloud data services, analytics-based industry solutions, Watson analytics, and insight cloud services.
  • To get started with cognitive computing and analytics, "Invest where the money is going" and pursue Line of Business buyers, he asserted.
  • "Twitter is not about social listening anymore. It's about creating actions."
  • Case Study: Smart Connect is a 12-person company, working with Golden Gate Bridge Transit. It leveraged Watson Analytics to develop a predictive analytics application that generates $365,000 in recurring revenue from a single customer engagement.

Cloud Senior VP Robert LeBlanc

  • "The cloud is not a destination; it's an enabler."
  • Roughly 80 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud by 2017. Source: IDC.
  • Hybrid will outgrow traditional public cloud for the next few years.
  • IBM's cloud highlights for 2015: 100 percent of relevant software is on the cloud; 65 new cloud services launched in 2015; 8 new data centers; 15,000 new Bluemix users per week; 3.2 billion Watson API calls per month and 10 new global system integrator partnerships.
  • Cloud focus has shifted from cost to innovation and business value.
  • Keep an eye on Perficient -- an IBM partner. The guy to know: VP John Kenkins. He's joining LeBlanc on stage now.
  • Perficient has 3,000 employees and is headquartered in St. Louis. Roughly three years ago, clients told Perficient they had no plans for the public cloud. Now, the CEOs, CIOs and CMOs are trying to push everything to the cloud, Kenkins said.
  • Perficient partnered with IBM because of the company's hybrid model -- on premises and cloud for robust, scale-out solutions.
  • Perficient also works with a value-added distributor -- Arrow -- for marketing and business support.
  • When pointing to cloud options, LeBlanc mentioned SoftLayer for public cloud, Bluebox for private cloud,andBlueMix for developers.
  • Video: Keep a close eye on video in the cloud -- where IBM is doubling down on recent acquisitions.
  • Storage: Here, LeBlanc pointed to Cleversafe as a way to manage on-premises and cloud storage as if it is one.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.