IBM is not Nerdwana

So when I get offered a $2000 visitor pass for a tech conference plus a flight ticket and accommodation in Las Vegas, then I say yes and start packing my bags. Even if IBM Interconnect does not particularly sound fun, and even if I could point out almost infinite number of better things to spend that money on.

Buy me $3500 worth of Red Bull, and I’ll rewrite for you Facebook in Brainfuck tonight.

In university times, IBM used to be the place where you send your resume only if you don’t consider technology being especially important. Their products are as uncool as Windows XP was for OS – but where Microsoft developers are crazy awesome hackers, IBM seems to exclusively hire sales people. Hackers don’t like that sort of thing very much.

And now, the Big Blue gives the world Watson. The one-stop shop for artificial intelligence. That is a solid, fun, innovative thing to do, and mind you: it’s not a startup building AI-as-a-service first, but people from the Dilbert strips.

I’m here with one of the first startups that can get their hands on Watson, so I’m very excited to visit all workshops and see what is there to learn.

There are many versions of the system for example, but I can break it down to two main ones.

There is the Watson that is on TV and in press releases and does all the cool stuff. And there is the one that you are being given access to, which is basically Elastic Search with a fancy, overpriced API. (That is, for now, of course, because the product is meant to evolve in the future.)

I’m not supposed to disclose any details, but the startup I’m supporting has seen marketing potential in partnering with IBM, therefore the Big Blue’s technology has to be interesting for us. It is actually, as far as it can get, but is it something to wow on in 2015, that they’ve discovered Cloud Foundry and a bunch of open source code, than went on to copy Heroku?

It isn’t of course, but it isn’t even relevant. Technology alone is not worth a thing. Even further, innovation alone is not worth a thing. Otherwise the Big Blue would have gone out of business a long time ago. And business is something they are very much in.

“I don’t get why we have to give away stuff for free, but if the world wants that, I’m fine with offering Bluemix for a month at no cost.” — says an IBM-mer in suits.

And as low of a respect I have for developers who are wearing ties and aren’t interested in working with the latest tech, I have to admit, there is something to learn from IBM here.

Business. Whatever you create, invent, play with and work on: don’t forget to find someone who sells it for you.