IBM Business Connect 2016 in Frankfurt

by Volker Weber

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This year IBM had their annual Business Connect conference on the Goethe Universität campus in Frankfurt. Decades ago there would have been car parking everywhere, but this campus has banned all cars. Which makes it absolutely wonderful, and not so easy to reach by car. The garage was full when I arrived, so was the overflow garage. Just before I was about to give up and drive home, I found a (legal) parking spot in a residential area only a 15 minute walk from the venue.

I was there to find out about Watson and the cloud business. Everything is either "cognitive" or "cloud", or both, when you talk to IBM. I would have also looked at Collaboration, but that was a no show.

So, Watson. When I see solutions that include understanding human speech, I am immediately curious whether it works in German as well. And I came away with the impression that it indeed does. I was also trying to find out how this would work in Verse, since that was already announced in the beginning of 2015, but I could not get to the bottom of this. I was talking to the person who is responsible for the Watson business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and he would not know. He could explain really well, how IBM is building solutions for customers on top of the Watson platform, with or without partners, the things you need to make it work, but he had no idea how Watson would support "email that knows you". I have pretty much given up on that topic and will focus more on asking about real world solutions.

Cloud was more of a general catch-up. I wanted to know where IBM sees itself in the market, and I saw happy faces all around. Business is growing, confidence and trust in cloud solutions is growing as well. Our region has always been slower to adapt, so that's a good thing. Competition seems healthy and big customers don't just have one vendor, but instead pick from multiple, depending on what they want to build. The interesting stuff is happening in support for new business solutions. If you want to build a new business, you don't have the time, and most likely also not the services you need to make these things happen fast. Bluemix is a platform that seems to be tailored for this. IBM told me that customers do not only prototype on Bluemix but that they actually runs workloads on the platform. Personally I don't see IBM up there with the big three: Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But IBM disagrees.

Comments

IBM introduced Bluemix to me about a year ago. They promoted heavily the "community" thing where you would use in your application e.g. an app part to read values from certain sensors from another programmer who has already done that. My question whether IBM would act as a gatekeeper (a la Apple with its appstore) and check published apps for security holes, trojans etc. was never answered. Not sure whether that will build trust in that new platform.

Axel Koerv, 2016-09-13

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