Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

eWeek: Analytics as "IBM’s Brilliant Trojan-Horse Strategy Technology"


Bob Evans at eWeek has posted an article (Global CIO: IBM's Brilliant Trojan-Horse Strategy Transcends Technology) that brings to light work that IBM is doing around analytics that extends far beyond what the stereotypical notion of IBM might be.

He's referring to retail sales forecasts provided by IBM, and in this case reported so nonchalantly by the Wall Street Journal that Evans did a double-take when seeing just who was providing the analysis.  "What also struck me about the very short article was that there was absolutely no mention of the apparent strangeness of IBM—an iconic computer and technology company—making such forecasts."

The predictions in question derive from work by Michael Haydack, leader of IBM's retail analytics group.  Haydock, a mathematician who specializes in applying advanced analytics to retail and manufacturing, has been sharing this index with clients for the past several quarters.  According to an IBM spokesman, "The index is based on 18 years of data accumulated by IBM, and has proven to be 99% accurate."  

Evans sums up well why work like this is so central to IBM's strategy (emphasis mine):

For the past couple of years, IBM has made it unmistakably clear that it intends to be a world leader in advanced analytics and predictive analytics because it believes the related technologies that it has developed or acquired and assimilated can be harnessed by customers to provide unprecedented levels of foresight into future behaviors, probabilities, and outcomes, which thereby let those IBM customers make better business decisions about that not-so-unknown future.

By moving aggressively into that technology space with its huge commitment to advanced analytics and predictive analytics, and by moving subtly into that interrelated business space with Michael Haydock's retail-sales forecasting, IBM has elegantly extended its considerable market position from the vital business of technology products and services to the unfolding world of helping customers understand—and take full advantage of—the future.

You can learn more about Michael Haydock's work here (press release: IBM Forecasts Bump in U.S. Retail Electronics and Appliance Sales) and IBM's broader work with the retail industry here.

Related:  An interesting article in Retail Industry News (Meeting the Demands of the Smarter Consumer) by Patricia Vekich Waldron, worldwide distribution executive, business analytics at IBM.


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