IBM: The Me Too Principal

June 15, 2015

Short honk: Big company innovation boils down to a handful of tactics. The most common is buying another outfit and using that firm’s achievements as one’s own. This is a variation of the entitlement culture or “look what money can buy”. Another approach is to hire an innovator and having that individual build a group. An interesting example of this tactic is Microsoft’s hiring Babak Amir Parviz (yep, the fellow with musical names). Then Google hires Dr. Amirparviz. The next jump is that Dr. Parviz (same fellow now) joins Amazon. Each company inherits his wizardry. The third tactic is to imitate which works reasonably well. Autonomy offered a “Portal in a Box” years ago. Other companies quickly followed with their own “in a box” strategy. The apex of the me too is the Google “search in a box” appliance.

Now navigate to the font of business and management expertise—the New York Times. Read if you can find it “IBM Invests to Help Open-Source Big Data Software — and Itself.” The big idea is that IBM is getting into Big Data software. You know, the trend which allowed IBM to convert a search utility like Vivisimo into the Big Data big dog. Well, apparently not. The write up states:

The company is placing a large investment — contributing software developers, technology and education programs — behind an open-source project for real-time data analysis, called Apache Spark.

And Spark in case you have not been following the breathless news releases from various open source commercial players like Lucidworks (Really?). The write up states:

But if Hadoop opens the door to probing vast volumes of data, Spark promises speed. Real-time processing is essential for many applications, from analyzing sensor data streaming from machines to sales transactions on online marketplaces. The Spark technology was developed at the Algorithms, Machines and People Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. A group from the Berkeley lab founded a company two years ago, Databricks, which offers Spark software as a cloud service. Spark, Mr. Picciano said, is crucial technology that will make it possible to “really deliver on the promise of big data.” That promise, he said, is to quickly gain insights from data to save time and costs, and to spot opportunities in fields like sales and new product development.

And IBM has lots of programmers:

IBM said it will put more than 3,500 of its developers and researchers to work on Spark-related projects. It will contribute machine-learning technology to the open-source project, and embed Spark in IBM’s data analysis and commerce software. IBM will also offer Spark as a service on its programming platform for cloud software development, Bluemix. The company will open a Spark technology center in San Francisco to pursue Spark-based innovations.

The write up explains that IBM has a plan. The gray lady puts it this way via the mouth of the an estimable azure chip consulting firm:

IBM makes its money higher up, building solutions for customers,” said Mike Gualtieri, a analyst for Forrester Research. “That’s ultimately why this makes sense for IBM.”

But… but… hasn’t IBM suffered declining revenues and profit erosion over the last three years? Irrelevant item. Set a spark to that tinder and watch the marketing collateral burn. And Vivisimo? Don’t know. Never did.

Stephen E Arnold, June 15, 2015


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta