How many companies from 100 years ago are still around today? Not many, yet IBM Corp. hit that mark in 2011 and remains a major force in the worlds of technology and businesses, showing no sign of slowing down.
Bruce Ross runs the show north of the border as president of IBM Canada, and it wasn’t all party poppers and anniversary cake this year for Big Blue. From a super computer that beat the Jeopardy champions to new programs for the channel, from new offerings in the cloud to several key acquisitions, it was a busy year.
Related story: IBM Canada unveils more Smart Cloud services
On the channel front, IBM held its first partner conference in a few years in February, and it was keen to make up for lost time. To help partners bring their solutions to midmarket customers, there was a $100 million investment for marketing programs. Cloud computing was a key focus, with the creation of a new cloud computing specialty to help IBM partners differentiate in this burgeoning market. And IBM’s formerly direct-first Global Technology Services division extended a hand to the channel, promising more services business for the channel in what could be a very lucrative opportunity for partners.
Making much bigger news for IBM though was Watson, the Big Blue supercomputer named for company founder Thomas J. Watson, which took on Jeopardy champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings and came out on top in three days of competition. It was an impressive display for Watson, an artificial intelligence system capable of delivering answers in plain language, and a marketing bonanza for IBM.
In other news, among IBM’s acquisitions in 2011 was a Toronto company, Platform Computing, to further the vendor’s cloud computing strategy. It also expanded its SmartCloud Services offerings and, with an eye to the economy, pledged $1 billion in financing to help small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) procure certain IBM systems and services.