Recent meetings with IBM reflect a number of forward thinking strategies; from silicon to software, services and IT hardware. Of course no company is perfect and IBM, as reflected by their last quarter’s results, is not immune to the dynamics of markets and/or technology. Having said this, their initiatives around Smarter Planet, business analytics and Cloud are growing at (an impressive) double digit rates, as too their business in many of the world’s emerging economies, notably China, India and Russia.
Our observations from IBM’s General Business worldwide influencers conference leads us to believe that IBM is well positioned to make much more of a mark in the sub 1000 employee company space; having said that HP, Sun, Dell, Cisco et al are not likely to let IBM take the initiative without a fight.
As most will know IBM has recently agreed to an offer to sell their PLM sales and client support operations to Dassault Systemes. Whilst many will be surprised by this news, there are many amongst us that believe that this is an inevitable culmination of many years of shifting relationship between IBM and Dassault.
Through highs and lows the IBM/Dassault relationship has been unique in its execution. Undoubtedly good for Dassault in delivering vast momentum in corporate accounts and clearly beneficial to IBM in increasing their manufacturing market coverage.
So why change? Well my take is that Dassault wants to be closer (read more in control) of their destiny and customers, and IBM’s keen to extend their footprint in manufacturing and process industries – to leverage their own software and service revenues (not necessarily with Dassault products). Of course there are many other reasons, benefits and negatives to the changed relationship (including, of course, financial); however I think it’s fair to say that due to the constraining nature of the historic IBM/Dassault relationship neither of the above core objectives was particularly achievable. For one there’s too much legacy, and second, these objectives are to a large extent contradictory in nature.
Will the move work? Well as they say, the proof is in the pudding, we’ll have to look at IBM and Dassault’s prospects and customers (and results) to see how they take to the changed landscape; and of course let’s not forget the competition that will be eager to ensure unsettled customers and prospects find a safe haven in their ecosystems. If we’ve learnt anything over the past years it’s that the customer is king. If they see value and benefit from the new constellation then it will work – the threat though is on the counter side.
An interesting move – and one that will, I’m sure, attract much more discussion.