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IBM Think, PartnerWorld 2018 Live Blog: Cloud, Security and Cognitive Computing Updates

Ginni Rometty, chairman, IBM
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

At this week's IBM Think 2018 conference, which includes PartnerWorld, the technology giant is reinforcing new developments and alliances across such strategic imperatives as cognitive computing & Watson, IBM Cloud, security, mobile, social and more.

During her kick-off keynote, CEO Ginni Rometty said a third exponential shift is just starting. The first two were Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law. Now, along comes Watson's Law -- meaning the convergence of data and artificial intelligence will unlock new opportunities for "incumbent disrupters," Rometty asserts. She called on customers to go on the offense -- empowering people to unlock digital opportunities, while growing and learning exponentially.

On the R&D front, Rometty pointed to a new Watson relationship with Apple, essentially giving Apple developers API access to Watson's technology. Also on tap: Watson Assistant -- pre-developed AI cartridges that are developed for specific vertical markets.

The world of data, she added, is both the biggest opportunity and the issue of our time. She pointed to the importance of being a true data steward -- calling on customers to address social, economic and security considerations for every piece of data you create and manage.

During a guest slot, Verizon Communications CEO Lowell C. McAdam described how 5G wireless will unlock big platform opportunities to build smarter businesses. More than just monetizing the connectivity, Verizon will work with some strategic partners in vertical markets to build capabilities into the network for specific customers.

What Is IBM Think 2018

IBM Think 2018 is a first-time conference that unites multiple events that were previously held on separate dates. PartnerWorld is one of the key events within the broader conference.

IBM enters the conference with some signs of momentum. In a letter to shareholders last week, CEO Ginni Rometty suggested that the company's reinvention phase is now "largely complete." The statement points to IBM's R&D and growing revenues across its strategic imperatives. Plus, IBM's most recent quarterly revenues grew for the first time in more than 20 quarters.

Rometty is set to address IBM Think attendees on Tuesday (March 20). John Teltsch, GM of global business partners, will keynote PartnerWorld on Wednesday (March 21). Stay tuned to this live blog for ongoing updates throughout the event.

IBM Think 2018 Live Blog: Monday, March 19

IBM has already made several announcements. They include:

IBM Think 2018 Live Blog: Tuesday, March 20

IBM Senior VP David Kenny

Stay tuned for a recap of...

  • During CEO Ginni Rommety's keynote, she made the case that enterprise-class artificial intelligence requires a different set of capabilities than consumer-class artificial intelligence. Without mentioning rivals by name, the point clearly targeted IBM Watson vs. Amazon Alexa. So what's the difference in business? IBM Senior VP David Kenny provided some business vs. consumer AI answers in a separate media briefing with ChannelE2E.
  • Our sister site, MSSP Alert, will recap an interview with John Wheeler, VP strategy, IBM security.

IBM Think 2018 Live Blog: Wednesday, March 21

IBM VP Carola Cazenave

Live from IBM PartnerWorld 2018 at the MGM Grand

  • IBM is striving to reduce complexity in its partner program, declaring that 2018 will be the year of Simplification. Among the basic checkmark boxes: An improved partner portal with improved cross-platform browser support. Plus, $80 million in co-marketing dollars -- which roughly 2,200 to 2,500 partners leverage.
  • IBM apparently is shaking up its commission program for internal sales teams, to drive more collaboration with partners.
  • The "simplicity" theme is a familiar one. Every massive IT technology company seems to make the same statement at partner conferences every year. But is IBM truly simplifying? We'll push for more details later today during a sit-down with Carola Cazenave, VP of global business partner ecosystem strategy and programs.
  • Next-generation MSP: BlueIT, an MSP focused on precision agriculture (PrecisionAG) and farming, took center stage during the PartnerWorld keynote. The managed service leverages drones. Side note: Heartland Tech Groups (HTG) Founder Arlin Sorensen predicted the rise of MSPs focused on PrecisionAg to me during a phone call in 2014 or so. I was on hiatus at the time from the industry. And as usual, Arlin was telling me "what's next..."
  • Reseller Transformation: ClearTechnologies has transformed largely into a VAR that has its own intellectual property. Among the IBM partner's key challenges and priorities: Relying less on vendor-generated marketing materials, and branding more around ClearTechnologies' own skills and IP.
  • MSP and Cognitive Computing: Flagship Solutions Group, an IBM partner, has won IBM-related deals with the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Marlins. The deals are storage-related, but Flagship's overall business is heavily focused on managed services. The company's next big bet involves NASCAR and The WeatherTrack, a real-time, weather insights dashboard, developed on the IBM Cloud and leveraging Flagship Solutions’ trademarked Infralytics methodology. It will provide critical information including rain start and stop times, wind speed, lightning proximity, tornado/flash flood warnings, and more to help organizers optimize each event, according to the MSP.

IBM Think 2018 Live Blog: Thursday, March 22

Stay tuned for a show wrap-up and our concluding thoughts.

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.