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On the train ride into the office this morning, I read a blog post in the New York Times’ technology blog about IBM, Big Data and small businesses. It was of interest to me because 1) I help build sales analytics systems 2) I’ve worked at companies focused on small businesses for the last three years and 3) I spent close to five years working at IBM.

When I finished that article, all I could think of was “ARE YOU %&$^#%$% KIDDING ME?”

Why IBM Had Analytics Wrong for SMBs

The post, titled “I.B.M. Slims Down Its Big Data Offerings,” leads with talk of IBM’s “strategic push more broadly into the fast-growing market for Big Data technology and to tailor offerings for smaller businesses.” The post centers on IBM, the epitome of old-school, big enterprise computing, selling their hardware into small companies and specifically companies using it for “Big Data” applications.

I’ve been talking to small businesses for three years about analytics and software in general. I’ve talked to, on average, two small businesses a week about their analytics needs, for the past 3 years. I’d estimate that is 300 small businesses.

And not once, ONCE, has any of these stake holders been even close to contemplating buying their own hardware for building and managing their own applications. Maybe, MAYBE, they are still hosting their own email server or their QuickBooks server from eight years ago.

But these organizations barely have an IT group. Small companies like those cited in the article are now being served by SaaS software vendors like InsightSquared, HubSpot, Salesforce.com, Google and others. No customer with whom I’ve ever spoken has the in-house interest or skills to build their own “big data” analytics, let alone build their own “big data” analytics on their own hosted hardware. That’s just a joke in my mind.

IBM trots out a single example of a small business using their hardware . . . for other, older legacy applications like “accounting, inventory and operations-management.” Sample size of 1. All those big data applications they could use on the IBM hardware are future looking applications. All those magical analytics applications that this small business could build? “It’s definitely something that we’re going to look into.” Emphasis mine. Future tense.

IBM is on the wrong side of market trends here as their hardware group tries to ride the current wave of tech press around Big Data to sell hardware in an out-dated business model. In reality, small businesses not only aren’t buying hardware for these kinds of applications, they’re outsourcing the creation of the analysis to cloud-based software vendors. This article from the Gray Lady is nothing but the story IBM hardware sellers want you to believe.

The reality in the market is much much different. Analytics in the cloud is here, it is now and it is the future.

Want to see how analytics in the cloud is different?

 

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