Weakly IBM: Watson, Where Are the Revenues?

March 12, 2016

I read “What’s happening at IBM (It’s Dying).” The article has a quote to note. I highlighted this snappy phrase:

Things aren’t going well at all in cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security land. When those kick-in (if they kick-in) IBM will be just one company in a crowd with no particular advantage over the others. IBM used to be able to count on its size, its people, its loyal customers, but all of those are going or gone.

If accurate, the observations in this paragraph are likely to trouble IBM’s stakeholders, partners, and employees.

I noted “KPMG Will Use the Power of IBM’s Watson.” Like the recipe play and the flow of information about curing disease, this tie up appears to unite two important companies in a stirring high technology activity. The article introduces an interesting idea:

IBM and KPMG have announced a partnership today, bringing IBM’s Watson supercomputer to KPMG’s professional services offerings.


Notice that IBM Watson has morphed into a supercomputer. Perhaps the author is exercising a bit of metaphorical freedom? Perhaps Watson is more than Lucene, home brew scripts, and a collection of disparate technologies which IBM acquired?

How will KPMG use the Watson supercomputer? I learned:

Watson will allow KPMG to analyze massive amounts of data with greater ease, delivering insights more quickly. It will also eliminate judgment-driven processes that usually happen in KPMG’s audit, tax, advisory and other professional services.

Google is making its system beat the pants off a human Go player. But Google continues to generate money from its advertising business. The company, in general, seems to be doing the science and math club projects without making headlines with massive layoffs and giving me a flow of material which Jack Benny’s comedy writers could have converted to entertainment gold.

IBM had technology which could have delivered on this Watson promise. Has anyone at IBM exploited the potential of the i2 platform, Cybertap, and other high value information systems? The answer is, “A little bit.”

Unfortunately a bunch of little bits don’t make a bite in the problems Mr. Cringely has identified and been pointing out for years.

Weakly moves IBM. Watson is not much of a bench presser in the heavy revenue gym it appears.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2016


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