New ways to take advantage of today's deluge of data and the migration of businesses to the cloud and toward social engagement will be a major market disruption that both IBM and its channel partners need to address immediately.
That's the message from Tami Duncan, IBM's vice president of global business partners for North America, who told solution provider attendees of this week's XChange Solution Provider conference that they need to get ahead of the coming disruptions.
"They're changing everything about how we react to the world. ... Any one of these on their own would be a disruption to business, but they're happening together," Duncan said.
Because of the speed at which such disruptions are happening, it is important for solution providers to move quickly to provide solutions, Duncan said. "If you get there after the transition, there's no profit for you," she said.
Duncan said that 80 percent of data created today is unstructured, and that IBM has invested $20 billion, including spending $13 billion on acquisitions and hiring about 10,000 consultants and more than 400 data scientists, to help derive value from it.
"We believe this will become the biggest competitive advantage," she said.
Finding the value in data is complicated because of the different layers of data available, Duncan said.
For example, she said, a GPS device interfaces with data at three levels. The first is descriptive analytics, which is having the data ready to build a map. The second is predictive analytics, which looks at where the driver is and tells him or her in advance where to turn. The third is prescriptive analytics, which she said looks at things such as upcoming accidents to provide alternate routes.
The next wave in getting value from data is cognitive supercomputing to take on real-world problems, which IBM has done with Watson, Duncan said.
Watson, which first burst on the scene by beating two all-time champions of the "Jeopardy" game show, already is tackling problems such as oncology, where consultants can feed information about cancer cases to the computer and within 15 minutes get suggested treatments along with ideas for further tests, she said.
Other examples include the ability to handle customer calls for financial institutions or act as a salesperson in retail companies, she said.
IBM in January unveiled a $1 billion investment in creating a new business group around Watson along with about 1,500 partners working to develop solutions, and at last month's Mobile World Congress unveiled a Watson mobile development business, she said.
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