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IBM Hides Watson Under a Red Hat

A charitable assessment might have called it an experiment, really; an experiment to find out if the headwinds on the hardware and infrastructure services side of the house could be mitigated to some meaningful extent by perceived tailwinds on the software side of the house. A less charitable assessment might have called it a gamble... But now, with the (Sunday evening) October 28, 2018 announcement that it will be acquiring open source software leader, Red Hat for an astounding multiple of nearly 12x FY2018 revenue, or $34 billion, IBM signals that the promise of the high-profile experiment / gamble within their software group - relabeled, Cognitive Solutions in 2015, and where "Watson" became the poster child for the recent hyperbolic expectations of artificial intelligence (AI) - was not likely to arrive soon enough to stem the internal bleeding caused by competitive threats within the cloud infrastructure services market. With Red Hat, IBM now turns to defend its 3rd fiddle position in the cloud market (just ahead of Google) - which [...]

By | 2018-11-12T22:33:04+00:00 November 12th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

#Hedgefunds: Is the Capacity of Alpha Unlimited?

Like the financial markets equivalent of "dude", or "bro" or the many satisfying derivations of "F**K," the term "alpha" seems to pepper our market discourse in a way that has few peers. Rightly or wrongly, there isn't an investment or trading context into which it is not shoehorned. We hear it everywhere, at all times, and in numerous forms: Achieving alpha... Delivering alpha... Portable alpha... (A strategy that had its heyday around 2006 and has recently tried to make a comeback.) Tainted alpha... (Not gonna go there right now.) And, my personal favorite (for its level of misguidedness), generating alpha... There are conferences named after it, like the CNBC and Institutional Investor ANNUAL Delivering Alpha Conference, now apparently in its 8th year. And, of course, some of the most brilliant and creative companies of all time have been named after it! - and, I'm not necessarily talking about firms like Visible Alpha or AlphaSense or the defunct quant strategy development platform, Alphacet... To be fair, the list of common usages [...]

By | 2018-09-23T22:12:39+00:00 September 23rd, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

α < ∞ ?

Like the financial markets equivalent of "dude", or "bro" or the many satisfying derivations of "F**K," the term "alpha" seems to pepper our market discourse in a way that has few peers. Rightly or wrongly, there isn't an investment or trading context into which it is not shoehorned. We hear it everywhere, at all times, and in numerous forms: Achieving alpha... Delivering alpha... Portable alpha... (A strategy that had its heyday around 2006 and has recently tried to make a comeback.) Tainted alpha... (Not gonna go there right now.) And, my personal favorite (for its level of misguidedness), generating alpha... There are conferences named after it, like the CNBC and Institutional Investor ANNUAL Delivering Alpha Conference, now apparently in its 8th year. And, of course, some of the most brilliant and creative companies of all time have been named after it! - and, I'm not necessarily talking about firms like Visible Alpha or AlphaSense or the defunct quant strategy development platform, Alphacet... To be fair, the list of common usages [...]

By | 2018-09-20T22:18:00+00:00 September 20th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

The Source of #AI Hype

Apple doesn't mention it... Amazon doesn't mention it... Alphabet (aka - Google) does mention it - but doesn't link it specifically to financial performance... IBM? You betcha. More than 155 times... In case you have been living under a rock - which, now that I think of it, has some increasing allure - artificial intelligence (and its slightly less sexy twin, machine learning) has succeeded 2016's marketing darling, blockchain, to become the blinking-neon-sign-outside-your-hotel-room term for 2017. Sorry, folks. The budgets have already been allocated. Go find predictive analytics (2014) and digital transformation (2015) in the dust bin of over-exposed marketing terms if you are not yet hip to how this game is played. Now, let's take a quick step back for a second: This is NOT an anti-AI hit piece. Nor is this an IBM-gotcha piece. I am a fan of both. But, this is simply a commentary based on the convergence of connect-the-dots exercises that have come out of our modeling and research. Yes, AI has an incredibly promising - if not, slightly scary [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:32:40+00:00 April 27th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Can (Digital) Transformation Be Measured?

A sextant is an optical navigation device used by sailors starting around 1730. With practice, it can prove quite accurate in plotting courses. Though the contemporary digital equivalent - a global positioning system (GPS) - has become the mainstream tool for navigation, sextants are still in use today among a small but avid group of yachtsman, survivalists and cognoscenti. Keep this migration in mind as we walk through today's question: Can (digital) transformation be measured? Our answer to this, of course, is yes - however, as in most cases, the specificity of measurement is data dependent. So, the qualified "yes" to this question, for now, relates to measuring transformation at the enterprise level. This is because the necessary enterprise data is relatively easy to find in the financial disclosures of the companies in our initial target sample. There is also rhyme and reason to starting at enterprise level because it plays squarely into our long term vision to define the total value of technology spending in the financial services ecosystem - [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:36:04+00:00 September 20th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalMythology: The Searing Truth of Context

The primary goals of this ongoing series of research are to quantify - in increasing detail - what the members of the financial services industry (FSI) ecosystem spend on technology (including hardware, software, data and IT human capital) – which is sometimes referred to as (enterprise) total cost of ownership (TCO); develop benchmarks and analytics that help describe the absolute and relative nature of these spending patterns; and then, use the findings to confirm, deny, expand the prevailing (or introduce new) narratives in the space. The first phase of modeling has focused on the largest IT solution buyers, a selection of over 50 of the world’s largest banks – plus a few others whose purpose, for now, is to help us place this initial sample of FSI players in proper context. (More on this shortly.) Subsequent phases of modeling will incrementally build upon this foundation with the addition of other constituencies in the FSI ecosystem until a comprehensive view is maximized. With this as a backdrop, we have been focusing on [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:38:03+00:00 December 6th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|