What are the business cases IBM is targeting?
Among a long list of potential business cases that Jarratt talked about with analysts there are a number that are very interesting. Some are simply an obvious extension of existing technologies and solutions while others offer a new set of business opportunities.
Government, surveillance and law enforcement
Among the obvious customers called out by Jarratt when talking to analysts are governments which includes intelligence agencies and law enforcement. The ability to capture drone footage and do analytics to track and find data, analyse footage from body cameras worn by police officers and do analytics across huge public video archives will certainly appeal to this market.
Gambling companies keen on any advantage
Another group are gambling companies especially casino owners who will want to use video analytics to crack down on cheating. Gambling companies will also see this as enabling them to further refine sports odds by being able to get even more data about individuals and teams before setting the odds. It will be interesting to see if any of the sport regulators consider this as a route to stamping out corruption and cheating.
Healthcare is an area where Watson is already very active for IBM and where video analysis of surgery, for example, could show flaws or improvements in techniques. In the short term however, we are more likely to see this take video medicine to the next level by being able to do more detailed analysis of video images. This should help to overcome the problem with poorer video cameras by creating the ability to enhance footage and identify potential illnesses.
Strengthening Industrial IOT
It would also be a surprise if we didn’t see IBM look to integrate its industrial IOT platform and services with the new cloud video services unit. This would enable it to take advantage of the ability to improve the monitoring of industrial sites, especially highly dangerous environments and use a mix of IOT sensor data and video analysis to reduce risk.
Film, gaming and a battle with Amazon and Netflix?
By far the biggest attention is likely to be on the video and entertainment market. Now that IBM owns the entire cloud video delivery chain and the underlying cloud platform it is well placed to offer a service that will put it head to head with Amazon. Quite how this will play out over the next year is unknown.
IBM is not going to go out and purchase a major studio even though its internal film and media production units might like that. Given the experience that Ustream has with the likes of the Discovery Channel and others, it would be a surprise if IBM didn’t announce a deal with a major studio before the end of 2016. Many of the studios are trying to work out how to compete with Netflix and Amazon so being able to deliver their content direct to the consumer and cut out the middleman will play well in that market.
For a company like Sony there is an even bigger benefit. Both its gaming and film studio businesses have suffered security breaches and loss of market share to rivals. Doing a deal with IBM and using its managed security services and cloud video services for content delivery could help them recover from the nightmare of the last four years.
This is a clever move by IBM and one that was hard to predict. Most analysts and journalists were still waiting to see how the Clearleap acquisition from December would shape up. Nobody expected IBM to go shopping again and the Ustream acquisition appears to have been a long way off of anyone’s possible targets for IBM.
The next goal for IBM will be to turn this into a profitable cloud business. All of the key components are already profitable in their own right so IBM will need to prove that they are worth much more as part of a greater cloud video services business. It will also need to show that it can integrate video into analytics to deliver an improved revenue stream for its existing cloud businesses.
Which major studio will it announce on the platform in 2016? Sony? Disney? Time Warner? News Corp? It’s anyone’s guess but if it doesn’t capture one of the big eight studios then it will have to ask where it all went wrong.