IBM just launched a new 2,000-employee consulting business to dominate big data

IBM Ginni Rometty


IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Although there have been rumors all year that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is undertaking a major re-org of the company, she's actually dolling out big changes in smaller bits and drabs.

For instance, on Tuesday, at the Gartner Symposium tech conference in Orlando, she announced the new IBM Cognitive Business Solutions consulting business unit, which will report to Stephen Pratt.
Pratt joined IBM last summer from Infosys (where he was, reportedly, at one point, the highest paid top-level executive for the Indian outsourcer, according to the Indian news site Economic Times.)
This new unit is, for the most part, a blending of two older IBM organizations, the successor to the "e-Business" and "Smarter Planet" units, the company tells us.

Predictions and personalization

However, at its heart is a new 2,000-person consulting organization that aims to help companies not just collect and store "big data" but to find insights from that data using sophisticated machine learning software (once upon a time called "artificial intelligence"), aka, IBM's super smart talking computer Watson Analytics.

For example, this army of consultants helped to create a new app for a big retailer that helped predict which products to stock based on information ranging from tweets to the weather; a health care organization come up with personalized treatment recommendations for cancer patients; a school to deliver personalized lesson plans for students.

IBM says it also plans to train another 25,000 consultants, who report up to Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services, on how to create custom "cognitive computing" apps for businesses this fall.

Rometty is shifting more of the company to attack what she sees as big growth areas (like big data, machine learning, analytics, cloud computing) while she's ditching the shrinking business areas that are declining in revenues and dragging down profits, (like chip manufacturing and low-cost commodity servers).Last month, Rometty also created a new business unit based on Watson called Watson Health. It's also a biggie, with 2,400 people reporting to new hire Deborah DiSanzo. They will be chasing Rometty's "moonshot" dream: that Watson will overhaul health care making it smarter, more personalized and more affordable for everyone, worldwide.

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