There are a lot of big bets going on for IBM right now, but none are quite as big as is the opportunity the company sees for business analytics, CEO Sam Palmisano told attendees of the company’s 2011 PartnerWorld Leadership Conference here Tuesday afternoon.
Kicking off the company’s first all-in partner conference in three years, Palmisano said that while cloud is interesting, and that the opportunity to grow the business in new markets is powerful, he believes the potential of business analytics are the biggest opportunity the company is addressing because of its ability to be transformative.
“This is huge. Don’t underestimate this,” Palmisano counseled partners. “This is going to be economically different because for the first time, IT is doing to do real things to make our lives better.”
It’s an opportunity that’s exploding, Palmisano said, because of the explosion of data being generated and collected by billions of Internet-connected devices, from cell phones to the smart grid. The data is out there. Now it’s just a matter of maximizing the utilization of that data, organizing and analyzing it so businesses can make better decisions.
And although the company’s Watson supercomputer is getting headlines (and much of the buzz at the show) for its appearance this week on the TV show Jeopardy!, Palmisano said the technology that powers Watson was developed for exactly this analytics opportunity. “Forty years of research wasn’t about doing well on game shows,” Palmisano quipped.