Smarter Planet or Smarter Computers?

Former CEO

There’s so much happening in the world of analytics, business intelligence, and data management that, as the CEO of one of the more exciting companies in this space, I find it impossible not to comment. You can expect to hear from me on a regular basis as I share my personal views on this rapidly changing market and the technologies and business solutions that are driving it.

The world of data, where it comes from, what we do with it, how we manage it, and how we extract value from it is undergoing a fundamental transformation. You can see evidence of this everywhere you look. One particularly fascinating example is the “battle of the titans” between Oracle and IBM as each aggressively positions itself for what it believes to be a massive growth opportunity. If you are anywhere near technology on this planet, you have no doubt seen Oracle’s aggressive advertising campaigns. One of their recent jabs at IBM’s products suggests that while IBM are off building smarter planets, Oracle are busy building smarter computers.

It’s hard to argue with the credibility and the ability to change an industry of either of these giants. IBM have invested literally billions of dollars in developing the Smarter Planet campaign and developing and acquiring the technologies to back it up. They have deployed over $10B of IBM capital to acquire over 35 companies over the past 2 1/2 years to make the capabilities behind Smarter Planet a reality. Oracle have also continued to build their business via acquisition and are telling the world about their “integrated hardware software” approach to building their solutions. While both companies have serious technology in hardware and software, it is interesting that IBM seem to focus their marketing energy on the social and business value of the solutions they can provide and Oracle are focused on the technology of moving application capability “into the silicon”. One thing is clear, this battle for the business of gaining more value from an increasing pool of data assets is just getting started. Just last week, another giant entered the fray. SAP announced its plans to acquire database and mobile solutions vendor Sybase for nearly $6 billion, adding Sybase’s capability to their growing analytics portfolio.

To me, the most important element of this transformation and the companies that participate in it is the way in which we provide value from the solutions we create. As a result of tremendous innovation, low cost availability of massive compute power, and the low cost of storage and bandwidth, we can create solutions that were previously inconceivable. Solutions that help businesses make decisions based on what will happen in the future, not just based on what happened in the past. It is my belief that the businesses that are most committed to effectively using data assets and the tools to extract insight from them will either become or remain the leaders in their industries. Those that do not will find themselves lost in a haze of non-competitiveness.

Smarter planets or smarter computers? Who cares. This isn’t politics or religion. Everyone agrees this sea change will happen. This industry is energized to innovate and create solutions that have never before been possible and corporations are finding extraordinary value from this new wave of analytics. All this attention on analytics is great for Netezza. As the giants add more capability to their systems, they will become complex, burdensome, and a drain on the very mission they are intended to perform. But not from Netezza. We focus our efforts on building the infrastructure to support the new world of data and analytics. Infrastructure that is high-performance and easy to deploy and use, allowing our customers to focus their attention on what really matters, running their businesses.