IBM Think and Digital Operations

Post by
Scott Francis

Last week we attended IBM's Think conference, the consolidation of all the conferences that IBM used to run under separate brands into one massive conference.? I'll note that IBM stepped up its game in the Solution Expo / Trade Show floor - the displays were by far the best yet at an IBM conference I've attended.? Also: my general read was that IBM's clients entered with modest skepticism and left encouraged by what they heard and experienced.? IBM sent other, more subtle signals, including moving the venue from it's traditional Vegas location to San Francisco next year.

IBM broke news on Watson, on Blockchain (a new joint venture with Maersk for example), and Quantum Computing - it may look like a Chandelier but they swear it is a Quantum Computer.? There's a good feed of moments and photos from the event linked here.

[caption id="attachment_10718" align="alignright" width="225"]

That's not a Chandelier, that's a Quantum Computer[/caption]

While there was a lot of news in a lot of areas of IBM's business, the news that interested us regarded products that impact our business of building out Digital Operations for our clients.

IBM refers to their product offering in this space as IBM's Automation Platform for Digital Business.? The big news (admittedly there were spoilers in previous IBM discussions) was that IBM is combining their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) portfolio with their Process (BPM) and Decision (ODM) portfolio.? At a high level, that's big news because the Filenet and Lombardi/Websphere franchises were overlapping and competing in many ways, but logically should be highly complementary instead.

To our friends leveraging Filenet for content and the processes that connect with it, there are fantastic opportunities to improve your estate with better process technology and with decision management.

Neil Ward-Dutton has written up his thoughts on IBM's announcements in a blog post on the MWD site. Neil calls IBM to task for not taking on this obvious step of merging the ECM and Process estates sooner:

"At IBM?s Think conference this week the company has shone a light on moves it?s started to make to try and reboot. With the launch of the snappily-titled IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business, IBM?s trying to do two things: first, to resolve the long-overdue tension in the workflow and case management areas of its portfolio that?s caused confusion and led to customer inertia; and at the same time, and to try to put together a more contemporary story about how it can help organisations with their current business automation priorities."

Neil goes on to make the case quite well for why we need Digital Operations (emphasis added):

We know from our research that the effects of digital transformation initiatives are now being felt in business operations: more and more organisations realise that digital transformation means a reappraisal and often a redesign of operating models.

I couldn't have said it better.? Indeed, Forrester's Rob Koplowitz cites the number one reason for Digital Transformation failures as a failure to address the standard operating processes that support the new transformed way of operating; in short: process failures!

Neil sums up the revised offering as follows:

With its new automation platform, IBM now has a more contemporary story to tell. The platform offering spans:
  • Task automation ? through RPA, powered by Automation Anywhere.
  • Workflow automation ? through a merged Case Manager and BPM offering.
  • Decision automation ? through Operational Decision Manager.
  • Content services ? through FileNet technologies.
  • Capture services ? through DataCap and DataCap Insight Edition (which adds Watson capabilities).
  • A unified front-end application UX ? through an evolved Content Navigator framework.

That captures it well - and this is the new framework that IBM is going to market with under one license with each one carrying a lineage forward. If IBM recognizes how critical this collection of capabilities is to running a Digital Business then they will double down on the direction.? Again, MWD nails it:

If IBM can deliver on its product roadmap and support its salespeople, partners and consultants properly, and do this consistently over the next few months, then it will be in a position to earn customers? and prospects? interest. But it must not be complacent. The market is moving fast, and what counts as ?enough to be credible? today in this space is not going to be enough for IBM to build a growth business.

Back to Quantum computing, if you're curious, there's a whole SXSW keynote address on this:? (UPDATE: putting the correct embedded video this time! )

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