IBM sticks to its optimistic financial forecasts


IBM has seen its 20th consecutive quarterly revenue drop but the company is sticking with its optimistic financial forecasts. 

According to, IBM’s revenues of $18.2 were down 20 quarters in a row, falling from $18.7 in the same period the previous year.

A range of other financial indicators also suggested that the company’s current performance is not entirely positive, but that doesn’t seem to have affected IBM’s outlook.

Speaking to CNBC, Martin Schroeter, IBM senior vice president and chief financial officer, says: “The portfolio will grow. I am confident that the IBM company will grow again.

“We’re taking time to make sure we invest in the right places and make sure we get the kind of margin high-value profile we’re looking for.

“We have not been solely focused on just that top line, headline number of ‘when can we print growth’. Had we wanted to print growth, we probably wouldn’t have divested of $8 billion worth of businesses. We’d probably reduce our investments overseas, where, obviously, there’s a currency impact, so that has not been our focus, and so that 20 quarter headline is probably not the framing that we’re thinking about.”

One of the reasons why IBM remains confident may be its strength in the increasingly commercial field of artificial intelligence.

Its AI system, Watson, has found applications in a wide range of industries – the medical sector being one of the most well-known.

Now, Watson is finding its way into the financial technology sector, with fintech being seen as the next big technological – indeed industrial – revolution by some.

Additionally, IBM is making a big push into the marketing sector, with the launch of Watson Marketing Insights, a cloud-based offering that continuously examines customer behavior and learns how it may impact the success of the business.

IBM says that with these insights, marketing teams can take action to launch targeted campaigns designed to turn all customers into brand loyalists who are helping drive business success.

IBM Watson Marketing includes audience insights, a cognitive feature that reveals key predictors in customer data based on their interactions with the brand across channels including email, digital, social media and in-store, as well as customer attributes. This data is continuously updated, revealing new audience profiles and customer segments as the relative importance of their behavior predictors changes.

As a result, marketers get a line of sight into a customer’s potential response to a new campaign, based on previous behavior.

For example, the cognitive capabilities may show that customers who consistently do not open email campaigns are most at risk of defecting than those who return products regularly.

These insights are delivered to the marketer via a visual dashboard that includes details of the context and reasoning behind the findings. With this information marketers can proactively target campaigns designed specifically to engage this group with a relevant offer and retain their loyalty.

By putting the power of cognitive into the hands of marketers, Watson Marketing Insights ensures that teams no longer need to settle for static segments that traditionally don’t take into account variables such as how customers have interacted with the brand over time.

Marketers also don’t have to wait for a data scientist’s analysis since data they need is automatically presented and, since Watson continuously learns over time and updates customer segments automatically, they are working with the latest customer details.

Maria Winans, chief marketing officer, IBM Watson customer engagement, says: “We understand that a customer’s journey has many touch points, and our clients want to make this journey seamless.

“While every customer is different, they all have one thing in common – they are interacting with brands across multiple channels. With these new cognitive capabilities, we give marketers the audience insights they need to strengthen customer engagement and deliver better performing campaigns.”