IBM certainly understands the value of marketing, but I think it might have finally outdone itself. The company announced some interesting new products at its InterConnect conference on Monday, but between the sheer volume of press releases it issued (20 since Sunday
); the breadth of the product lines involved; and IBM’s, shall we say, ambitious
claims, it’s really hard to tell what matters and what’s for real.
Here are what, I think, are the highlights:
Most of these products are in some form of beta, and at least one of the storage options is not yet available.
Barb Darrow at Fortune (my podcast co-host and former colleague) addressed some of IBM’s business issues
in a story on Monday—including its being late to the cloud party and its enduring dependence on legacy systems—but I would say the situation goes even further. At a high level, IBM has too many divisions tackling, seemingly, the same space, and might have done itself a disservice with all the Watson marketing.
On the latter point: it has been 6 years since Watson competed on Jeopardy!, and thanks to all the permutations, partnerships, and grandiose claims followed by skeptical reporting, it is hard to tell what Watson actually means or does. Analytics is not AI, and mere voice recognition is not curing cancer.
I would also point out the IBM was very early in talking about the promise of the cloud and even branding a cloud lineup, Blue Cloud, in 2007. It took until about a year ago that IBM actually delivered, with Bluemix, any sort of cloud technology that people take seriously.
I think IBM’s embrace and commercialization of Blockchain is both progressive and potentially very important. I think its embrace of Kubernetes is very smart from a business perspective. I think its recently announced efforts around commercializing quantum computing in the next few years
could be revolutionary. But at this point with IBM, I’ll believe it when I see it.