IBM and the public sector – old hat, new hat?

Written by Eleanor Willock

IBM’s going to split into two companies next year, it was announced yesterday.

As reported by the BBC this morning, old IBM (or new hat IBM, whichever you like) will focus on becoming the leader in cloud infrastructure and AI. Newco, or old hat IBM, will be responsible for legacy IT infrastructure.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, in this CRN piece, says: “Client buying needs for application and infrastructure services are diverging, while adoption of our hybrid cloud platform is accelerating. Now is the right time to create two market-leading companies focused on what they do best. IBM will focus on its open hybrid cloud platform and AI capabilities.”

It’s pretty difficult to split the UK public sector’s needs from IBM into these two buckets, but central government has always been a focus area. UK.Gov has been ‘cloud first’ since 2013, and a 2019 review conducted to reflect the growing appetite for hybrid cloud in the public sector concluded that the policy was strong and relevant. The current GDS review of policies on cloud data flows will be a big driver of what happens next and which vendors can shoulder the responsibility.

But what about local gov? Will IBM’s older, legacy ERP tech be a golden pathway to faster digital transformation driven by Newco out and into the cloud? And healthcare – what could IBM’s new focus mean for patient data, interoperability and the application of AI to personal health?

As someone who has had IBM in my PR career orbit for 20 years now, I’m excited by the news. It’s incredible really, that a firm that less than 15 years ago was known for its big iron, its laptops and things like Lotus Notes, continues to re-invent and move with the markets like this. What’s next will be interesting to watch.

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