Published: February 15th, 2017

LAS VEGAS – At its annual PartnerWorld Leadership Conference, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty reasserted the company’s commitment to Watson, and how its partners will succeed with it.

Rometty praised IBM’s channel partners in the opening session of the conference, expressing how vital they are to IBM’s success, and how that relationship will only continue to grow as the company turns to Watson as its underlying foundation. Whether it be the Watson Data Platform, its cognitive platform, or its cloud technology powered by Bluemix there is one constant – Watson, and IBM want’s its partners to take advantage of it.

“We’re talking about a slight competitive advantage by using AI (artificial intelligence) to get ahead of the pack. It will impact in five years every decision that we make,” said Rometty.

When it comes to Bluemix, the company announced that the rapid adoption of the platform comes from the efforts of its partners accounting for nearly a third of all IBM Bluemix Business since IBM launched the platform in the channel ecosystem in September 2015. Now with Watson and AI, Rometty is challenging IBM’s partners to do the same.

She points to the company’s Watson Data Platform, the framework for processing and storing data, and its cognitive platform, the platform that ingests said data to learn and then make decisions, as the foundation that IBM has created. These processes are the core of what the technology does, but it needs to do more and be a platform that developers can build upon.

Chapter one of AI is over, Rometty said. The foundation of AI has be set, and if IBM is going to drive Watson and its cognitive platform forward, the partners will be a vital part of it. “If you get your clients in better positions, it’ll set you up for decades, not just years.”

In order to challenge its partners, IBM has introduced the new Watson Build, a program created to push partners to increase their skills around Bluemix and Watson APIs and turn cognitive thinking processes into revenue generation.

The Watson Build comes a year after IBM challenged its own employees with the Cognitive Build. This encouraged employees to form teams, brainstorm, and pitch new cognitive business solutions, resulting in 2,700 ideas of which hundreds of prototypes emerged. The Watson Build is the next step in this process.

“As more companies start to realize the benefits of cloud, we are seeing more IBM [channel partners] look to Bluemix and Watson to create custom solutions,” said Marc Dupaquier, IBM’s worldwide channel chief during the opening presentation.

Throughout the Watson Build challenge development process, IBM will offer technical and business support. The partner with the winning solution will be announced in October at the company’s World of Watson event.

IBM is all in on AI and Watson, and whether or not the company finds success in that area will depend upon its channel partners, which is proven by the company’s lofty goals. According to Rometty, Watson will be used by one billion people by the end of 2017.

“You’ll be differentiated by cognitive and Watson,” said Rometty. “Engage in the Watson build and show your clients, don’t just tell them. The premium is on experience and skills. Then we continue to move forward together. Momentum is building, and I am extremely confident we have the best partners in the world.”


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