Tuesday, November 26, 2013

IBM Software: A Newer, Younger IBM?

CHANGE is definitely in the air at IBM Software. At a recent IBM Software event for analysts (#swgai), IBM revealed new initiatives and directions that could give IBM a “makeover” by using more contemporary and customer-relevant approaches for updating its solutions and customer interactions.  It’s not just business-as-usual with IBM (continuing to add new features and functions to its products and solutions), and customers should start to see visible changes at IBM, such as new ways of buying IBM products and progressive approaches in its solutions.


First, IBM is changing how customers interact and use its solutions. IBM’s new Design initiative focuses on developing new ways that its software interacts with users by shifting the focus of its user interface design from task and function, to enhancing user experience. This is not just a User Interface (UI) refresh or update. It’s a fundamental shift in IBM’s approach to designing user interactions to be more intuitive, beautiful and progressive. Metaphorically speaking, this new approach could effectively “Apple-fy” (as in, taking a page out of Apple’s user interface playbook) how customers interact with and use IBM solutions.  Internal IBM DesignCamp training for IBM execs and developers are propagating this new approach across IBM product groups.

For example, IBM showed us an example of an existing IBM management solution that traditionally displayed lists of alerts for administrators. The new user interface allowed users to intuitively and graphically filter the data to find the information they were interested in.

These new user interfaces are beginning to appear in some IBM products, and IBM intends to deliver it in more products as the product teams ramp up with this new approach.

More Ways for Customers to Buy Software:

Traditionally, customers purchase IBM enterprise products through their direct sales teams. Although that traditional sales channel will continue, IBM is beginning to offer “try and buy” SaaS-based software trials over the web. In response to segments of customers who prefer to try software and purchase without having to deal with salespeople, IBM is beginning to offer online software trials, and if customers like what they see, they can download it and buy it online with a credit card.

IBM is leveraging its IBM Cloud, powered by its recent SoftLayer acquisition, to enable this new sales channel for customers. The convenience of buying software online will resonate with some potential buyers, and provides an alternative way to procure IBM software.

The growth in Analytics, Embedding analytics:                 

IBM continues the drumbeat with analytics, as it takes its analytics capabilities and expands its use across its solutions portfolio, for example, expanding into IT Operations Analytics. IBM has a wide variety of analytics technologies, which it is leveraging in its products. And IBM will continue leveraging more of its analytics assets, incorporating more of its cognitive analytics capabilities.

New Media and Millennials:

It is clear that IBM is paying attention to the effects and influence of the millennial generation, as potential buyers and users of its solutions. The millennial generation is changing our culture societally, as well as in corporate environments.  IBM is responding to this new generation of customer by changing and expanding how it reaches out to and interacts with customers. IBM is experimenting with new ways of reaching out to its customers, using new media channels and technologies that it hopes will resonate with the millennial generation.


These are a few examples of the changes that afoot within IBM. Separately, they may seem like small adjustments and changes in a large corporation like IBM. But when looking at the big picture, it reveals adaptive undercurrents that are going on within IBM that have the potential to change and “makeover” IBM in how customers view IBM and how they interact with IBM.  
These kinds of changes may help IBM shift away from the stereotypical industry views of IBM, and shift it toward more contemporary models. However, making changes in large corporations are a challenge and can take some time. So we’ll have to see how far-reaching these IBM initiatives become, and if IBM undergoes a major “makeover” or a minor style change.