IBM finished last year on a bright note. It continued growing its businesses in cloud, analytics, mobile, and security. The company also made big acquisitions to bolster those units. Its biggest buy was Weather Company, a move that gives IBM valuable data and digital content. More importantly, weather changes constantly. This requires big data on a high volume. By acquiring Weather Company’s know-how in cloud-based analytics, IBM may integrate these features with Watson.

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IBM is featuring Watson Analytics and Watson health when it can, but the technology is not beyond the company’s core competency. Watson is a fancy name for IBM’s big data and information retrieval solution. Companies that have massive amounts of data cannot derive value from it. By applying computing analytics on this data, IBM’s Watson hopes to discover patterns that businesses may find useful. Google and Amazon already do this. Google’s search engine indexes and characterizes (through metadata) websites. Amazon.com not only makes searching for products easy, but it characterizes its buyer habits. By predicting what shoppers want, Amazon improves its chances of selling something, and boosting sales volumes.

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Acquisitions

IBM’s hardware platforms did well last year. Sales for Z-systems and IBM System Storage grew. Conversely, software sales were weak. The company acquired Gravitant, a cloud brokerage software and cloud management supplier. The hybrid cloud specialist should improve IBM’s hybrid cloud capabilities.

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Shutterstock

IBM also acquired Clearleap, which provides, “multiscreen platform powers compelling new multiscreen business opportunities for premium content owners and pay TV providers.” Enterprise customers may now securely manage and monetize their video content. Clearleap’s technology allows for millions of concurrent clients viewing a video. The company counts Sony, A&E Networks, and HBO as its customers.

IBM’s goals for 2016

Expect IBM to aim for selling more software sales, be it solutions or cloud-based. The company already enjoys a loyal customer base. Last year, its renewal rates were in the mid-90’s globally.

Mainframe sales should continue doing well. Its sale of the legacy servers to Lenovo will only help IBM stay focused on high growth areas. IBM may expect continued declines in the Unix server market. This will be offset by strong demand for the Power8 platform, which supports the cloud space and Linux operating systems.

Unsurprisingly, consulting services will be a priority for IBM. Its global delivery services include important work like digitizing front office data for clients. The next step after this work is providing cognitive solutions.

Mobile, social, and security and broad ideas are important growth areas for IBM.

Watson may not get on the headlines the way Google did, when Google’s alphago computer beat the top Go (Chinese chess) player. IBM will be happy if Watson is chosen by companies implementing analytics solutions.



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