As a long-standing leader in technology, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has an extensive legacy as a trusted expert to consumers and enterprises alike. Some important products that IBM has introduced to the world includes: Keypunches, Calculators, Computers, Data Storage Devices, and Point of Sales Machines. The full list is much more extensive; however, the point is that IBM has always been a leader and key component in the advancement of technology.
As you go through your normal day, it’s difficult to go a day without being impacted by something basic, but so important to most aspects of our lives – data.
Data can be defined as, “a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables.” There is a straightforward way to classify data – data we are aware of and data we are unaware of. An example of data we are aware of can be as simple as the PDF file on our laptop. Data that is more discrete and that we may not be aware of is the log file that is collected by commercial aircraft engine manufactures every second of the day. Cash is always going to be King, but Data is slowly becoming just as important. Just as banks store our money securely, there needs to be a place to store our data securely.
The demand for data storage has been recently growing at a rapid pace from three major trends:
- Consumers utilizing more storage more frequently (larger size files being uploaded and shared more often)
- Enterprises investing in big data projects to capture value
- The start of the Internet of Things (IoT) era (connected machines and devices)
With the projected growth in demand for data storage that outpaces the rate of supply, there is a huge opportunity for a technological leader like IBM to capitalize on its well-trusted position. With many projections, there is always the risk of initial assumption turning out to be incorrect. With the IoT era just beginning, there is a strong risk of the demand projections be understated.
The implications of the IoT growth are immense, and there will be strains on many other things besides the data storage such as internet connectivity speeds and data security.  However, this isn’t slowing down the clear increase in the number of devices in both the consumer and enterprise space.
Ultimately, there is a clear need for data storage management, both solutions and hardware. IBM is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this megatrend (digitization).
IBM is known for its expertise in this field, but has been competing with other firms to be the provider of hardware required to satisfy the need storage. A few data storage firms include Western Digital, Micron Technology, Seagate Technology. These firms supply components that are required for our ever-important devices to perform – computers, phones, televisions, powerplants, manufacturing plants to name a few. As you can see, the breadth of the impacts of this increase in data storage requirements is very wide.
An opportunity exists for IBM to become premier provider of solutions and hardware for this new data hungry world. Currently, IBM advises many large enterprises on their shift to utilizing big data as a value creator in their respective businesses. For example, United Technologies Corporation’s Aircraft Engine Division, Pratt and Whitney (PW), is taking advantage of big data to predict aircraft engine maintenance for its customers all around the world. This new project not only serves PW’s financial and operational goals, but also helps their customers’ aircraft fleet stay in the air longer.
With these big data projects that provide immense value to their customers that also grows IBM’s reputation for data expertise, I would recommend that IBM aggressively sell their advisory services to capitalize on established relationships in the future as the expansion of IoT devices and, subsequently, increase in data storage takes place. Another recommendation would be to acquire and data storage manufacturer. This action would complement the strength that IBM has in its data solutions service.
As I researched this topic two questions continued to spark my curiosity:
- Is there an opportunity to clean-up (purge or delete) our current data storage to support the rapid growth in demand?
- Is there an opportunity to retrain and develop America to be a strong data storage manufacturing country?
1. Data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data
2. Digital Data Storage is Undergoing Mind-Boggling Growth: https://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1330462
3. Internet of Things Infographic: https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/internet-of-things.html#m=the-internet-of-things-infographic
4. Pratt & Whitney’s ‘Big Data’ Projects Advancing Analytics Efforts in Aftermarket: http://www.utc.com/News/PW/Pages/Pratt-Whitneys-Big-Data-Projects-Advancing-Analytics-Efforts-in-Aftermarket.aspx