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Summary

One of the biggest challenges that CIOs face globally is managing information in an environment that is increasingly data driven. Organizations need to seize and exploit large quantities of data to give themselves a competitive advantage. This challenge has led to the rise of big data and cognitive technologies, a trend that has been accelerated by the shortage of related talent in the industry. IBM was one of the earliest vendors to recognize this potential and has placed cognitive intelligence at the heart of its overall corporate strategy.

At Connect 2016, IBM built on its social business momentum with cognitive intelligence enhancements to its solutions. Social business is increasingly about harnessing both internal and external social and collaborative interaction. Cognitive promises to turn these interactions and information into deep insights that are both actionable and relevant. IBM recently declared that “this is a dawn of a new era, a cognitive era,” signaling its bold ambition in this area. Ovum believes the vendor’s approach is strategically sound given the deep interest across enterprises. It is also encouraging to see IBM integrating its cognitive capabilities across its services portfolio, including social collaboration, which will give it a distinct competitive advantage.

Enhancing Verse and Connections with cognitive intelligence

Enterprises do not generally view investment in social business platforms as a top technology priority. However, productivity and operational efficiency challenges have compelled enterprises to invest in tools that enable their employees to work more effectively. IBM’s Verse and Connection platforms were designed to drive stronger and more intelligent (social) collaboration for employees internally and with external providers and even customers. At Connect 2016 IBM announced several enhancements to its existing platforms, with cognitive front and center. Cognitive technologies in general allow the contextualization of mass amounts of data and identify in real time the “next best action.” They can be applied potently in a variety of ways beyond social collaboration.

Ovum believes that this is a major differentiator in the marketplace. Some of the updated Connections features leverage cognitive to allow users to organize their calendars better. For example, they can prioritize meetings based on importance, create specialized communities based on role functions, and organize meetings with the relevant people based on subject matter. These new features are designed to intelligently and proactively suggest the next best action for employees in a highly personalized manner. Ovum believes that they could transform not only social collaboration but the entire digital experience. IBM’s ability to integrate these features into its social collaboration platforms sets it apart from its competitors.

IBM is also leveraging its strength in adjacent business units with its social collaboration strategy. Most of its social collaboration services have a cloud option, delivered from its SoftLayer data centers around the world. This gives its enterprise customers a choice of on-premise or cloud delivery. Most of its platforms are open and developers are leveraging its robust Bluemix PaaS offering to develop new, richer features for its existing offerings. With enterprises looking for differentiation in a digital world and gravitating toward open innovation, open platforms become a critical building block in the value-creation process. Professional services, which have always been one of IBM’s biggest strengths, are also a critical part of its social collaboration offer, with an increasing proportion of its engagements consulting-led. Most of the recent deployments have a mobile element and IBM is leveraging its broad MobileFirst solution suite as well as its strategic relationship with Apple. Few technologies today are completely siloed or stand-alone. IBM’s extensive capabilities across the entire ICT spectrum also help to differentiate it in the marketplace.

Appendix

Further reading

IBM Cognos Analytics – A bridge across the analytic chasm, IT0014-003094 (Jan 2016)

Author

Adrian Dominic Ho, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Services

adrian.ho@ovum.com

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