The old IBM was arguably the most conservative technology firm one could imagine. You cannot say that in 2016. It has left the legacy firms and has self-styled as a cognitive computing and cloud company.
The most recent acquisition of Truven Health Analytics is proof of this. It is closely linked philosophically to the acquisition of The Weather Company as well as other health related entities in 2015. No other technology company would have considered either acquisition and would not have the analytics to back it up. Laterally, perhaps you could imagine GE, another company who is not what they were making a similar acquisition. Clearly, it is very difficult to imagine the traditional frenemies of IBM such as Oracle, HP, and Microsoft considering such a deal.
For IBM the cost to acquire 215 million patient profiles (amongst other IP) was $2.6Billion. I cannot comment on the price paid, whether it was too high or too low but the point is the acquired data that it can use to feed Watson Health. IBM is acquiring data in the way it used to acquire software companies.
As a note, capioIT is very pragmatic about some of the challenges that IBM has faced with integrating acquisitions large or small. Healthcare data companies are no exception, and as ever the caveat for IBM optimizing the acquisition is the ability to integrate it.
When I started my research career I was taught to listen to the outliers because they can direct the sunrise, or fade into the sunset. If you split IBM into the multiple components that make it up you find a range of outliers that could mean sunrise and sunset. Substantial parts of the Services and Software business still has to transform or fade away, Watson and other parts of the growth engine are all about creating new opportunities, new data and new client outcomes. Expect more acquisitions of data to run in parallel with The Weather Company and Truven Health Analytics. As an outlier IBM is not going to wait for its future, it is acquiring the data to drive it.
IBM is now becoming an outlier for technology companies by acquiring industry specific data that can drive Watson and other analytics related capabilities. This is a differentiated approach that no other technology vendor can replicate in the short to medium term. The focus now falls to IBM to be able to package, sell and execute on the innovation.