Highlights from: IBM’s continuing quest to refresh its revenue mix

TPM has one of his usual, great round-ups of IBM’s business:

For the full 2016 year, IBM’s revenues were off 2.1 percent to $79.85 billion, but its “real” systems business, which includes servers, storage, switching, systems software, databases, transaction monitors, and tech support and financing for its own iron, fell by 8.3 percent to $26.1 billion.

Changing the revenue mix:

IBM’s efforts to promote SoftLayer cloud and Watson cognitive computing, mobile and social and marketing software and tools, and security wares – what it calls its strategic imperatives – are almost filling in the gap left behind as the core businesses shrink. IBM wanted these strategic imperative businesses to reach $40 billion and 40 percent of revenues by 2018, and in this quarter it already hit the 40 percent mark, with $33 billion in revenues for 2016–as much because of its overall revenue decline as for the growth in these businesses.

And, some info on their hardware revenue:

IBM sold just over $8 billion in Systems products, and brought $934 million to the middle line as pre-tax income

Also:

Schroeter said that Linux-based Power Systems machines now drove 15 percent of revenues, and that is pretty good considering that two years ago it was a few percent of sales.

Source: ”Drilling Down Into IBM’s System Group”( https://www.itjungle.com/2017/01/23/drilling-ibms-system-group/)

AI market sizing: $39bn in growth in less than 3 years?!

The market — defined as A.I.-related hardware, software and services — will surge from $8 billion this year to $47 billion by 2020, predicts IDC, a research firm.

Uh…

Also, some coverage of Watson business models, including customized cocktail drugs, which I hear is a scary big business in the horizon.

And, there’s some IBM AI spreadsheeting you can fiddle around with:

Market-share:

IBM may have a chance to join that group. By 2020, IDC predicts, 60 percent of the A.I. applications will run on the platform of four companies: Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM.

Revenue:

UBS estimates that Watson may generate $500 million in revenue this year and could grow rapidly in the years ahead, possibly hitting nearly $6 billion by 2020 and almost $17 billion by 2022.

Having lived through The Great Cloud Forecasting era around the turn of the decade, my advice is: take all this with care, but enjoy the razzle-dazzle!

Source: IBM Is Counting on Its Bet on Watson, and Paying Big Money for It

Linux killed Sun?

For the Sun: WTF? files:

Gerstner questioned whether three or four years from now any proprietary version of Unix, such as Sun’s Solaris, will have a leading market position.

One of the more popular theories for the decline of Sun is that they accepted Linux way, way too late. As a counter-example, there’s IBM saying that somewhere around 2006 you’d see the steep decline of the Unix market, including Solaris, of course.

If I ever get around to writing that book on Sun, a chart showing server OS market-share from 2000 to 2016 would pair well with that quote.

If you’ve read Stephen’s fine book, The New Kingmakers, you may recall this relevant passage:

In 2001, IBM publicly committed to spending $1 billion on Linux. To put this in context, that figure represented 1.2% of the company’s revenue that year and a fifth of its entire 2001 R&D spend. Between porting its own applications to Linux and porting Linux to its hardware platforms, IBM, one of the largest commercial technology vendors on the planet, was pouring a billion dollars into the ecosystem around an operating system originally written by a Finnish graduate student that no single entity — not even IBM — could ever own. By the time IBM invested in the technology, Linux was already the product of years of contributions from individual developers and businesses all over the world.

How did this investment pan out? A year later, Bill Zeitler, head of IBM’s server group, claimed that they’d made almost all of that money back. “We’ve recouped most of it in the first year in sales of software and systems. We think it was money well spent. Almost all of it, we got back.”

Source: IBM to spend $1 billion on Linux in 2001 – CNET

The Amdahl Mug, worth $1m in 1989

It’s been a name-your-own-price market for canny buyers of IBM and compatible mainframes for some time now, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Amdahl Corp is making it easy for even the meekest DP manager to turn into a hard bargainer: it is giving big computer buyers an Amdahl coffee mug and telling them it’s worth $1m if they just leave it on their desk when their IBM salesman comes to call.

Source: THE AMDAHL COFFEE MUG EFFECT – Computer Business Review

CPI case study: IBM and SoftLayer would be greater together

Data from 451 Research’s Cloud Price Index suggests that IBM is missing a trick. By going all-in and baking SoftLayer with Bluemix, IBM would gain a leading position in the market in terms of completeness of services and global availability, as well as finally delivering a single user experience.

Owen over at 451 suggests that IBM hasn’t yet merged SoftLayer into Bluemix totally, missing out on a high ranking in cloud providers (by functionality, geographic availability, etc.). Also: “The company claims $10.2bn in cloud revenue, a growth rate of 46% Y/Y, and 20,000 new users per week.”

Source: CPI case study: IBM and SoftLayer would be greater together

056: IBM InterConnect, corporate copy, lead-gen’ing, serverless programming – Software Defined Talk

Summary

With Matt and Brandon fresh back from IBM’s InterConnect conference we talk about IBM’s announcements – mostly cloud related. It looks like IBM is doin’ alright, well, except for all those quarters of revenue decline aside, but maybe that’s the just what has to be stomached to evolve. We also discuss working with the corporate editorial desk and the concept of “serverless programming.”

Listen above, subscribe to the feed, or download the MP3 directly.

With Brandon Whichard, Matt Ray, and Coté.

SPONSOR: Get a copy of my free booklet on how to avoid screwing up your cloud strategy, “The Cloud Native Journey.” Check out the Cloud Foundry Summit, May 23rd and 25th – come talk with companies that are going cloud and sorting out their digital transformation strategies. Use the code CF16COTE when you register to get 20% off.

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Solving the conundrums of our father’s strategies

So here we are, as of this writing a good twenty-nine years after the “hatchet job,” and Kodak has declared bankruptcy. The once-humming factories are literally being blown up, and the company’s brand, which Interbrand had valued at $14.8 billion in 2001, fell off its list of the top one hundred brands in 2008, with a value of only $3.3 billion. 6 It really bothered me that the future was so visible in 1980 at Kodak, and yet the will to do anything about it did not seem to be there. I asked Gunther recently why, when he saw the shifts coming so clearly, he did not battle harder to convince the company to take more forceful action. He looked at me with some surprise. “He asked me my opinion,” he said, “and I gave it to him. What he did beyond that point was up to him.” Which is entirely characteristic of scientists like Gunther. They may see the future clearly, but are often not interested in or empowered to lead the charge for change. Why do I know this story so well? He happens to be my father. —The End of Competitive Advantage, Rita McGrath.

You don’t get a sudden, personal turn like that in business books much. It evoked one of the latent ideas in my head: much of my interest in “business” and “strategy” comes from dad’s all too typical career at IBM in the 80s and 90s.

Sometime in the early 80s – or even late 70s? – my dad started working at IBM in Austin on the factory floor, printed circuit boards I believe. He’d tell me that he’d work the late shift, third shift and at 6am in the morning, stop by 7-11 with his buddies to get a six pack and wait in the parking lot of the Poodle Dog bar for it to open at 8.

He moved up to management, and eventually into planning and forecasting. All for hardware. I remember he got really excited in the late 80s when he got a plotter at home so he could work on foils, that is, transparencies. We call these “slides” now: you can still get a that battlefield-twinkle out of old IBM’ers eyes if you say “foils.”

Eventually, he lived the dictum of “I’ve Been Moved” and went up to the research triangle for a few years, right before IBM divested of his part of the company selling it to Multek (at least he got to return to Austin).

As you can guess, his job changed from a long-term one where his company had baseball fields and family fun days (where we have an outdoor mall, The Domain now) to the usual transient, productivity harvesting job. He moved over to Polycom eventually where he spent the rest of his career helping manage planning and shipping, on late night phone calls to Thailand manufacturers.

In addition to always having computers around – IBM PCs of course! – there was always this thing of how a large tech company evolves and operates. At the time, I don’t think I paid much attention to it, but it’s a handy reference now that I spend most of my time focused on the business of tech.