We are in the big data for development space, but we keep an eye on what is happening in the big data for profit space. And IBM is a company we watch.
Since 2005, IBM has invested $24 billion in the data analytics business, including $17 billion on 30 acquisitions. In 2013, the business generated nearly $16 billion in revenue.
So if IBM makes less money in the future selling hardware, software and services for corporate customers’ data centers, it plans to make more money helping its customers make sense of data — to cut costs, increase sales, innovate and personalize product offerings.
Watson, the project that defeated human “Jeopardy” champions three years ago, is at the summit of the new field of data-driven artificial intelligence. And IBM is converting the technology from an applied science to a business — as a clever assistant in health care, drug discovery customer service and financial planning.
In January, IBM said it would invest $1 billion to create a separate Watson business unit and fund start-ups that want to build applications on the Watson technology. It is another long-term bet for Ms. Rometty, and Watson will be offered as a cloud service.