IBM Think 2018 – What will drive IBM toward the future


IBM held their think conference in March 2018. As with all vendor conferences, the content comes fast, it is varied and takes a while to digest.

Think was the first time that IBM integrated all their business units into the one event. If it is to be an integrated enterprise, it had no choice. As a result, coverage was broad and sessions numerous. Key focus areas from both a session and an exhibition perspective were:
* Cloud – IBM has started to understand what it wants to do in the cloud, execution is the challenge
* AI and Analytics – Watson, Watson and more Watson
* Security – IBM has a robust security functionality, but needs to do a better job of integrating it back into both IBM’s business and that of clients and partners
* Systems, Services and Software – Yes, this still exists with varying degrees of growth and visibility

Overall it was a successful event from an IBM perspective, more Oracle Open World, than Dreamforce, but that is to be expected. It is clear however that IBM has been to, and learnt from Salesforce, so expect more from that.

There are a few key areas that capioIT is talking about after the event.

Walmart Case Study on Blockchain and the Humble Mango
IBM had an excellent case study in Walmart. Walmart has a supply chain scale that is not matched by any other traditional retailer globally. That is not to say it is perfect. The humble Mango and subsequent deployment of Blockchain may help change that. Blockchain is successfully being used to check the mango from farm to plate. This leads to increased supply chain visibility and effectiveness as well as massive improvements in the ability to react as required, for example, if there was a product recall due to food safety issues. Pre Blockchain, it could take weeks to comb myriad pieces of paper, now it takes 2.3 seconds. This is a startling number, and when you see the IBM investment in blockchain, the potential for it to be the cornerstone of IBM in the future alongside Watson and cloud is clear.

IBM Approach to Data Integrity and Respecting Customer Privacy
It is unsure if it was a blessing or a curse, but as the event unfolded in Las Vegas, so to the controversy over Facebook’s use of customer data and Cambridge Analytics came to the fore. IBM, and any other enterprise that directly or indirectly (through Watson for example) manages customer data had to be very sure about their response, particularly given the changing information.
IBM chose to handle it directly and honestly. They went for a high-level approach to respecting data integrity and customer privacy. If IBM can maintain this, it may find that a more conservative approach to data will win it friends from users and enterprises alike.

Is IBM tone deaf to non-enterprise customers?
This was the biggest disappointment of the day. CEO Ginni Rometty gave an energetic keynote outlining IBM’s vision until the customers hit the stage. At the Interconnect event in 2017, a precursor to Think, the opportunity was largely missed to have new industries. In 2017, we had Telco, Bank and on a positive note, Everledger, an Australian startup focused on using blockchain to circumvent the illegal diamond trade. Alongside this, we had Girls Who Code. This showed promise and diversity even if the banks, telco and tax planning customers were mega enterprise and very limited. 2018 took this and removed the startup and diversity angle. We got a Bank, Telco and logistics company that IBM is in a JV with. No start-ups, just CEO’s of some of the largest enterprises on the planet. It was very tone deaf to the needs of IBM’s non-enterprise customers and partners. It was incredibly underwhelming. IBM needs to address the mid-market and startup community with a lot more vigour and credibility if it is to reach the levels of growth again that it requires. It won’t have another chance if it retakes a limited view.

Salesforce is IBM new best friend

For years IBM and Salesforce had and wanted nothing to do with each other. One was the new model, the other the legacy world. Of course, times change. Now the two firms are intimately entwined. The first significant step was the acquisition of Bluewolf. This created a relationship that has built rapidly from this point. Einstien and Watson are now engaged, and will by definition learn from each other. IBM also acquired event inputs from Dreamforce. There were many subtle and otherwise nods toDreamforce at the event, although it still has a way to go to match the theatre of Salesforce. For the future, capioIT expects significant advances in the relationship. This will be driven by further activates in the machine learning space with Watson and Einstein, but also in Blockchain. This will make significant opportunities for both, and expect Bluewolf to be central to the advance of this relationship/

Capture Point
A couple of weeks post Think 2018, there are fundamental talking points. IBM has started to slowly rebound and has strong positions in Cognitive, Blockchain and digital services with a growing capability in Security. It needs to execute and integrate quickly on this to ensure that it can lead, and fill the vacuum that will come regarding enterprise data privacy and integrity. It also needs to reflect on customers and partners a commitment to them even if they are not Fortune 100. It has this capability; it fails to communicate it repeatedly.

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The Product Manager is Dead, long live the Outcome Manager

Product Managers are the central lifeblood of the technology firm regardless of what category of product is being sold. It is an unfortunate reality that the role itself should be retired. Why? Simply it is about the product, not the customer requirements. The role is designed to manage and shift product regardless of claims to customer centricity. Ask any product manager what they sell and they will give you a deeply detailed rundown of the features, form and acquisition of the product.  As an analyst, I meet with several product managers a week. I have been increasingly frustrated in recent years as it is clear that they all have the same failure. Selling product, not outcomes. This has to end.

Meet the Outcome Manager

The switch to outcome manager is essential and needs to happen now.  What outcomes are you providing the client? Which product provides the outcome it is less relevant than business success. The product design and capability is not what should be sold nor bought. The business benefit is all that matters

Don’t think that it is enough to just change the title. The mentality and functionality have to change. You have to understand how the product is being used, what is the measurement of success, what are the impediments, you then need to be able to articulate this in business language, not product or technology.

Instead of providing a CRM platform, you enable a client to communicate with verified prospects today, leading to accelerated sales. At the same time, the customer has to understand that instead of asking for a CRM platform, they need to understand their business requirements and outcomes. It is simple to say of course, but the history of the product manager means that it may become more difficult to migrate.

It is more than worth noting that the redundancy of the Product Manager is not just restricted to those firms that have struggled with the technology transition of the past few years. Some of the leading SaaS and IaaS vendors have caught the trap of the product manager even with the capability and brand acceptance to most readily provide outcomes to clients.

Capture Point

The redundancy of the Product Manager reflects the issues and challenges when IT meets business. It has to change, and even simple mind shifts such as the concept of the Outcomes Manager is a shift in the future required direction. It is an example when a simple name can actually transform and make a difference.

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Salesforce celebrates $10B revenue

Today Salesforce released their Q4 and Annual numbers. The magic $10B figure has been achieved. To be precise, FY18 revenue was $10.48B.  This represents growth of 25%. Guidance for 2019 was $12.6B, a growth prediction of 20-21% in the next financial year.

Not that they need validating, but the results highlight, just as AWS has transformed the infrastructure cloud, Salesforce is the dominant SaaS provider, particularly on the customer experience vendor. Frankly, Workday needs to step up now and do the same for SaaS only HCM and ERP.

From an ecosystem perspective, it is dragging along a very willing ISV community to experience the SaaS growth curve. capioIT is deep into research into the Salesforce solutions ecosystem as well, what is clear from that is that the clear leaders are growing at an even faster rate than Salesforce and that markets such as the Asia Pacific and EMEA are developing their own localised SI providers as well as the global firms. Still, more is needed. Salesforce needs to double down on Trailhead to drive training and education at both the vendor and enterprise level.

Where to for Salesforce. Clearly, they will not be content with $10B. They want to double this and do so quickly. AWS shines the way but also presents some challenges. Salesforce needs to grow out the broader ecosystem and tighten up the portfolio, but when you are growing at25%, and just hit US$10B you can reflect for a brief time.

Capture Point

Salesforce has long validated the SaaS market. Hitting US$10B in revenue in record time is further validation of this and goes a long way to reinforcing the dominance of the customer experience market. The only humbling factor is that it all starts again for the firm each quarter, so there is never time to rest for Salesforce or anyone else.

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capioIT partners with Ecosystm – Ensuring more data and market insight

Last week it was exciting to announce that capioIT would be collaborating and partnering with Ecosystm ( Based in Singapore, Ecosystm is a welcome disruptor in the technology and digital research space, with the simple but transformative aim to democratise data and intelligence.

Firstly, capioIT is not going anywhere. We remain, and will always remain an independent voice in the digital and technology marketplace. This is the core of what we do. What will change is the significantly increased access to data. I am literally poring over thousands of data points on analytics, IOT and cloud to start to understand the quantitative and robust insights that the data provides.

Using the data from thousands of surveys across the Asia Pacific and more broadly we will answer questions such as

  • What countries are accelerating fastest towards mobile applications of analytics?
  • What industries have the strongest uptake of CRM analytics?
  • What are the key business benefits of Compliance based analytics?
  • What cloud vendors enjoy the highest visibility in key markets?
  • How important are enterprise integration and regulatory environments in inhibiting cloud growth?
  • What cloud solutions do retailers intend to invest in?

I will be able to partner with the team at Ecosystm and provide custom research as well opening up even more possibilities for insight and outcomes for clients.

Capture Point

We are very excited to work with the Ecosystm team. The obvious bottom line is that the Ecosystm data is deep, reliable and with their segment reach  ever growing. It is very exciting and allows capioIT the benefit of collaboration alongside our independence which we value so highly.

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Strava and the Law of Unintended Consequences

By now, most would be aware of the release of a “heat map” from sports performance app Strava that identified the up to 1 billion activity paths (Running, Cycling, etc) of every one of its users. At first view this seems like innocuous and unsurprising information, a lot of people run around Central Park, New York, cycle in Belgium and Swim at Bondi Beach. At the same time not a lot of users in Afghanistan and Syria. And that is where it gets interesting. Thanks to an enterprising Australian student, Nathan Ruser, the world knows a lot more.

We know where US bases are, we know French activity in Africa. The depth of information is disturbing, but not at all surprising in the digital world. Any digital device has a location element. If you did not realise this then you are naive as an individual. If you don’t realise this as the worlds largest defence force then you are negligent in the extreme. Unintended consequences can be avoided. How did the chain of command not understand that the level of vulnerability had widened since the use of Fitbits, Garmin watches and other wearable devices let alone smartphones?

Enterprises, agencies and consumers all have to make a simple assumption. Any information that is collected about them at an individual and collective level can and likely will be used against them. Not all use is nefarious, tracking and comparing physical activity is a great idea, unless you are on a hidden US base in the Middle East or a French base in Africa.

capioIT has simple guidelines to avoid these issues for consumers and enterprises alike

1 – Assume the data gathered is going to be used against you. If the negative outcome is less than the positive benefits from Amazon to apple watches at least you need to way up the options

2 – Read the fine print. Opt out when you can. It is not an altruistic world. They are not getting your data for your benefit, it is gathered for their commercial benefit.

3 – Technology is accelerating incredibly rapidly, legislative and regulatory environments are not. Cultural norms do not keep up with technology

4 – Ask yourself if you like what you are doing today to be splashed across the world’s media tomorrow?

5 – This is only the beginning. It will only get more pervasive with the growth of AI

Capture Point

Technology is accelerating. Humans are not accelerating as quickly. As a result, the benefits of technology investment will often be overwhelmed by negative issues. We need as a society to understand this,. Our governments, enterprises and watchdogs need to also understand this. As the security failings of 2017, and the strive data release this year have highlighted, society is not ready for technology. We need to accelerate the ability to understand, regulate and protect at the same time accelerate the positive outcomes of technology.

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AWS Reinvents AWS. Again

In the last week of November 2017, AWS held it’s customer event, Reinvent in Las Vegas. Not surprisingly, it is big. Total attendees were 43,000. Last year it was less than 30,000.

Everyone knows AWS is big. In the last four quarters, it had revenue of $18B at a growth rate of 42%. At this current growth rate, new revenue growth in 2018 will represent US$8B. According to Fortune, the following firms have revenue of approximately $8B.

  • HCL
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Campbell’s Soup.
  • News Corp

AWS will grow a company their size in 2018. It is an extraordinary metric for a company that had revenue of under US$4B in 2014. It will most likely hit $20B in the next quarter. At current growth rates, within 5 quarters it will be 30B, then $40B. It is a revenue growth and scale machine the likes of which the technology has not seen.

Consider the scale that provides, the supply chain that is required, the on-boarding of staff, the onboarding of partners and clients, and importantly, the requirements for direct customer feedback to drive product innovation. Nothing about AWS is small.

Revenue is just one measure of growth. At Reinvent this year, there was an increased visibility, focus and overall investment with the partner ecosystem. Again, massive numbers. Last year, AWS added 10,000 new partners. Not 10,000 new certified people, but 10,000 new partner organisations. The level of infrastructure and process excellence required to do that is immense. Fortunately, AWS has a parent company with some history when it comes to process and supply chain.

Aside from the growth in numbers of partners, AWS made considerable investments in the overall partner experience, remuneration, certification and frankly it was about time that this was recognized more fully from AWS. It has invested heavily on the AWS resource side, focusing on ensuring that the correct partner meets the correct customer opportunity. This is incredibly critical when you are at scale and growing at over 40% per annum.

In terms of offerings from AWS announced at the event there is a lot to focus on. As is their approach, there were hundreds. Overall, the most significant update was to the Machine Learning platforms. A lot of focus on Video based Machine Learning. Neptune is a new Graph based Database. Other announcements spanned the ecosystem.

Whilst it has a dominant position, capioIT believes that diversity remains a key challenge for AWS. According to analysis of the AWS organizational structure, only 2 of 29 named executives are female. capioIT has written that white middle aged males are not the future of IT. AWS is a leader and benchmark that must change. Quickly. I appreciate it is an engineering firm, and sadly a lack of diversity goes with the territory, but across gender, race and other forms of diversity metrics, there is clearly more that it must do.

To give credit, AWS is aware, there were diversity sessions at the event as a start point, but it can learn from Salesforce. Salesforce is incredibly diverse and whilst it makes a lot of noise about the diversity, it can back it up better than anyone else with both spend and functionality.

Capture Point

AWS is constantly growing in all measures. The growth is deep and fast. It is increasing its reach into the enterprise. The increased focus on partners highlights this. The achievement of onboarding 10,000 new partners in 2017 is phenomenal. It is not invulnerable. The minute it thinks it is, the end will accelerate. That is part of what makes it unique. Oh, and Amazon as a parent company.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

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ASEAN leads the opportunity for redefining Cloud Infrastructure Locations

capioIT regularly writes about the importance of the ASEAN market. The size of the market, larger than Latin America, is underestimated. The diversity of the market is also underestimated. As much as any other sub-region of the world, the diversity is in the detail, countries are not the same on virtually any measure in comparison with each other let alone within their borders.

Unfortunately, it is also a market that has not been able to make the most of the cloud opportunity despite recent aggressive uptake of solutions across the spectrum. Of course, there are multiple reasons for this. Regulatory issues are complex in most of the countries, data centre ownership legalities are not easy. Not surprisingly there are increasingly strict rules about the location of data, and what data must be stored within the country, as well as privacy etc. Networks may not be up to speed.

Skills are also lacking in the region. Whilst this has improved in recent years, it remains a valid concern and one that requires more investment from industry and the individual governments. Markets such as Indonesia and Thailand still struggle with skills. More needs to be done to develop this. Cloud investment can be the trigger.

We believe that the opportunity in ASEAN is to develop tier 2 type locations to overcome the data location issue is very significant and immediate. Whilst Singapore is represented by every major cloud provider, this does not equate to having coverage in the region.

Whoever builds a model that economically works in these markets will gain first-mover advantage and in the medium term potentially block competition. Obviously work is already underway by the major cloud providers to develop such a solution, they have to accelerate it. Capability will need to balance the more limited scale opportunity in the short term with genuine cloud offerings that meet the market from a pricing and function perspective.

In most markets, whilst there are local cloud providers, they do not have the function, form or capability to integrate into a global cloud network. Therefore much of the heavy lifting will have to be done by the major cloud operators. It is a long game investment strategy, but as highlighted, the first mover advantage is massive.

ASEAN has the three largest opportunities, there are many countries around the world that will benefit from this cloud function in the more modest footprint.

capioIT has ranked the following markets from a short and long term opportunity perspective globally. As expected three are in ASEAN


Core Short Term Market Opportunities

  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Russia
  • Turkey

Longer Term Market Opportunities

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Vietnam
  • Bangladesh
  • Sri Lanka
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • Morocco
  • Egypt
  • Peru
  • Colombia

Capture Point  

Opportunities for cloud computing are being left at the table in emerging and tier 2 or 3 countries. First mover advantage is immense if executed correctly,

Clearly, some of these countries represent real challenges in terms of network and telecommunication capabilities as well as regulatory, business stability and ease as well as overall business demand. Partnerships will help with this as will successful and clear-headed investment plans.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

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