The Market Intelligence Advantage of IBM's Information Infrastructure Launch

Rob Enderle

Last week I posted on IBM Information Infrastructure as an unusual cross initiative largely driven by storage. Today IBM announced a massive number of products and offerings that fill out this initiative and represent the other shoe that I couldn't even hint at last week (I was under embargo).


You can read more about the announcement here (or hear more about it here), but I thought I would chat about the advantage this will give IBM that others' might not pick up.


Need for Market Intelligence for Cloud-Based Computing


Right now the only clear idea, and it probably isn't accurate, for the future of servers and storage in a Cloud World is Google, and it builds its own stuff (for the most part) and isn't exactly known for having the uptime most of us would consider adequate.


For a new market, there is actually very little in the way of market research that is either affordable or accurate. This is because there aren't that many people who buy at this scale, and these folks aren't known for sharing what they plan to do. In many cases that is likely because they are operating tactically and really don't know what they plan to do next year.


For companies that are trying to determine what to build, particularly those that have limited lines, this leads to a lack of critical market data and a bunch of guessing. This guessing is often based on bad market intelligence and turns out to be wrong. Executives, no matter how good, that get bad intelligence tend to make bad decisions, and we are likely to see a lot of those as the Cloud Computing market takes off.


IBM's Advantage


The IBM announcement, which has built in vertical industry bundles, reflects the complexity of that company. It spans both products that were built in IBM and products that IBM has acquired. Typically this means IBM will take a margin hit, and that will be true this time. But there is a value to this approach that makes that margin hit worthwhile, and that is real-time market intelligence broken down by industry.


Much of what will be purchased in this segment over the next decade will be to build out cloud-based projects. With the connection to IBM Global Services, IBM will, for a time, have the most diverse set of solutions available. This is though you were working in the garage on your car, having the most complete set of tools. The end result is that IBM should be able to better custom tailor solutions across a broad variety of engagements.


But the requirements of cloud computing should begin to consolidate around certain themes and product sets relatively quickly, and IBM Global Services will, as a matter of course, report back those solutions that are working the best in segment. From the data IBM will then know how to consolidate and enhance its offering.


This in turn should allow it to both reduce the number of products, which will increase margins and increase the competitive advantage of their offerings based solidly on the market needs they have discovered in the process.


Summing Up


IBM announced a massive number of offerings all coupled under its Information Infrastructure Umbrella. This portfolio will be consolidated over time, but will give IBM intelligence on the evolution of cloud computing that will be unmatched in the industry. This intelligence should result in a competitive advantage for IBM that is also unmatched if they use it properly. In the end, it is often more about what you know about a battlefield rather than the weapons you bring to it that result in victory. In a way IBM should, if this plays out, have both.

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