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IBM Smarter Commerce Sales Mastery Test v1
IBM Commerce tricks
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Photo: fizkes (Shutterstock)

Despite our illusions of independence and control, it’s possible to manipulate people using a variety of psychological tricks—heck, that’s what the entire advertising and marketing industry is built on. So it stands to reason that a little light mind control could make things go your way a bit more often. When you dig into supposed psychological tricks, however, you often get mired in a lot of pseudo-science and dubious claims. But while it’s true that you’re not going to be controlling minds and hypnotizing people into doing your bidding any time soon, there are psychological tricks that do really work—and that are backed by scientific evidence.

If you’re looking to gain a little bit of an edge in your everyday life, here are some mind tricks that actually do work.

Create a debt

If you want to make someone do something for you and meet resistance, one trick you can employ is to create a debt by doing something for them first. This hinges on what’s known as the Norm of Reciprocity—basically, the pressure people feel to return a favor. An easy example of this is when someone cleans your windshield when you’re stopped at a light, and then asks for a tip. You didn’t ask them to clean your windshield, but once it’s done, you feel pressure to reciprocate.

You can create this debt in a wide variety of ways. Servers in restaurants jot personal notes on your bill to create a debt of goodwill, encouraging larger tips. Companies offer free trials of products and services because they know that once you use the product, you’ll feel a debt and be more reluctant to cancel or return the item. So next time you need someone to do something for you and you sense their reluctance, do something for them and you’ll increase your chances of success.

Mirroring

Yes, something used by Andy Bernard on The Office is a legit psychological trick with science backing it up. Personality mirroring, or The Chameleon Effect, is when we unconsciously mimic the people around us—their postures, attitudes, and other behaviors. We all have a tendency to do this because of what’s known as the “perception-behavior link,” wherein observing a behavior increases the likelihood that we’ll repeat it.

You can use this to your advantage by consciously mirroring people you’re trying to influence, matching their mannerisms and other behaviors. This increases trust and will make you seem more authoritative and trustworthy, because you’ll literally remind people of themselves.

Over-ask

Are you trying to get someone to do something? Try the Door in The Face (DITF) technique. You use this trick by first asking your target for something much harder or more outrageous than what you really want—something they’ll doubtlessly refuse. Then, back down and ask them for your original desire. The chances that they agree are now much higher because of DITF, which pivots off the Norm of Reciprocity discussed above (the name of this technique is taken from the concept of people slamming the door in a pushy salesperson’s face). When you downgrade what you’re asking, it’s perceived subconsciously as a concession—which creates a debt. People will have a strong urge to erase that debt by agreeing to your “lesser” request.

Repeat yourself

If you’re trying to convince someone of something, one of the most powerful psychological tricks you can employ is what’s known as repetition bias. Basically, the perceived legitimacy and truth of any statement increases the more frequently it is repeated—in other words, the more you repeat even blatantly untrue or incorrect information, the more likely people will start to believe you. This results in what’s known as the “illusory truth effect,” and the last few years have shown just how powerful it can be even when dealing with huge populations that have access to factual information. So the next time you need to convince someone of something, just repeat it doggedly—you’ll eventually wear them down.

Imply scarcity

The scarcity principle is one of the most common examples of blatant psychological trickery we encounter on a daily basis. Any time you see an advertisement that promises something is limited—in time or quantity—it’s using the scarcity effect against you. It’s easy to see why this works: We tend to place more value on something when we think it’s rare. When you’re told that an opportunity only exists for a short time or in a limited supply, your fear of missing out (FOMO) hits hard, and you almost instinctually want to avoid it.

While this is most useful with marketing products, you can also employ this trick in other ways. You can trick people into spending time with you by implying that you can’t fit them into your busy schedule, for example.

Speak with confidence

Being thoughtful about your vocabulary choices when speaking can have a huge impact on how you’re perceived, and how often people do what you want. We often unconsciously “hedge” when we talk, using phrases like “I think” or “I’m not 100% sure, but...” This gives your audience wiggle-room to doubt what you’re saying and to perceive you as less than reliable.

On the other hand, using confident phrases like “I know” or “I believe” will make your arguments seem more authoritative even if nothing else changes in what you’re saying. In other words, your statements might be as dubious as before, but because you’re stating them so confidently, people will have a stronger tendency to believe you.

Use names

If you get the sense that someone’s attention is wandering from you, or if you want to ensure that they’re focused on you no matter what else is going on around you, try using their name. Science tells us that hearing our name pivots off the “Cocktail Party Effect,” which describes the way we instinctively filter out all other stimuli when we hear something interesting—and our own names trigger this effect in spades.

That’s why salespeople are usually trained to repeat your name often as they deliver their pitch to you, and you can use this simple technique to ensure that people are paying attention and feel engaged with you as you speak. Your audience may not even realize why they remember their conversation with you so well, or why they failed to notice other people in the room while you were speaking.

Be present

If you’re trying to establish a bond of trust with someone, you can use something called “affinity” to trick people into trusting you. Affinity is a sense of familiarity people have when they’re used to seeing you all the time—the more “present” you are in their lives, the more likely they are to feel close to you and to trust you.

For example, an experiment was conducted in which four women posed as students in a class. The women did not interact with any of the other students at all—they merely showed up. The impostors attended different numbers of classes, and at the end of the term, the other students were shown photos and asked their opinions. The women who had attended the most classes—who had been most “present”—triggered higher levels of affinity, even though they hadn’t spoken to anyone.

Dish the compliments

One of the trickiest mind tricks involves something called spontaneous trait transference. In a nutshell, this means that people tend to view you with the adjectives you use on other people.

So, if you want someone to see you as smart, start calling other people smart. If you want to be seen as confident—or even attractive—describe others using those terms. Over time, everyone will start to view you through the lens of those comments. Keep in mind that this works in reverse, too—if you spend your days crankily insulting other people, those around you may start to view you in a very negative way.

Touch

Want to influence people? Try some subliminal touching. Subliminal touching is simply making casual interpersonal contact while interacting with someone. Touching their arm or shoulder briefly has been shown to make people instantly feel warmer toward you. While you often hear this advice in the context of dating and romance, it’s a powerful mind trick any time you’re trying to be perceived in a positive light. For example, a study conducted by the University of Mississippi and Rhodes College found that waitresses in a restaurant who lightly touched their customers received significantly larger tips.

There’s no true mind control, but you can use these real, real mind tricks to deliver yourself some advantages. Just remember that other people are probably using these same tricks on you.

   

Mon, 26 Sep 2022 09:11:00 -0500 en text/html https://lifehacker.com/the-psychological-mind-tricks-that-actually-work-1849581208
Killexams : Three Composable Commerce Myths

Jason Cottrell is CEO & Founder of Myplanet, specialists in digital transformation programs that tackle complex commerce challenges.

Back in the spring, I offered my take on why the adoption of composable commerce platforms has gained significant ground. And since then, its proliferation hasn’t stopped. Even key monolithic players like Shopify are capitalizing on the value of composable principles to deploy new platforms and APIs that may seem headless or even composable. Ultimately, this led to confusion about how composable technologies actually work. So when it’s time to consider new commerce platforms or tech vendors, it’s wise to do your due diligence.

Granted, doing so can be a challenge. The commerce tech glossary is dense, people frequently conflate or misunderstand common terms, and—let’s not forget—all-in-one commerce platforms can masquerade.

To that end, here are three misconceptions around composable commerce to help you make more informed decisions for your brand.

Myth 1: Headless is composable.

Composable commerce is a relatively young term that describes a particular commerce architecture paradigm rather than a specific technology. Composable commerce isn’t owned by anyone, and it’s only through organizations like the MACH Alliance and commerce tech companies that the notion of standards can emerge. Despite these standards and the growing popularity of composable commerce architectures within retail, you may have come across different terms that refer to this same concept.

• Modular architecture.

• Curated commerce suite.

• Microservices architecture.

Because these terms capture the essence of composable commerce, they aren’t misnomers. But when people start using headless and composable interchangeably, you can run into issues. This false equivalence can be compared to saying that flour and cake are the same; while flour is a primary ingredient of cake, it doesn’t make a cake what it is. Like a cake, composable commerce is the sum of its parts, with headless (the flour) being a key element.

Before we get hungry, let’s revisit what headless actually means.

Headless is a term used to describe a commerce architecture where the front-end and the back-end operate independently of one another.

In practice, this means that a single back-end—which contains components like a content management system (CMS) and customer data platform (CDP)—can integrate with any number of front-ends through the use of APIs. In other words, retailers can design a different customer interface for each touchpoint they might have: mobile apps, in-store kiosks, wearables and more. This freedom is what makes omniretail possible for retailers—they’re able to provide a seamless customer experience regardless of where their customers are.

Composable commerce goes even further by allowing retailers to curate a modular commerce suite using the best vendors for each job—from checkout and promotions to commerce engine and fulfillment. Unlike headless architectures, composable commerce architectures operate within an open ecosystem of commerce tech experts and vendors. Besides offering support and guidance for your solution, accelerators provide access to pre-built integrations to speed up time-to-value.

Myth 2: Monoliths can be headless.

The DNA of monoliths dictates that they can never be truly headless; they can’t provide an all-in-one platform for their users and be modular at the same time. Although these all-in-one platforms sometimes advertise headless functionality, they are ultimately opinionated. Any “modular” components or custom solutions have to work within the confines of their architecture—whether it’s their native code, APIs, console or templates.

All-in-one commerce platforms were built to support websites, but since the introduction of mobile technology, we’ve seen an explosion of additional channels—each warranting its own front end. So while it might be possible to leverage APIs to connect each front-end, it’s important to consider whether or not those APIs are an extension of the platform’s functionality. In contrast, a headless solution is capable of supporting any number of front-ends across any number of channels, including those that are still in their infancy (e.g., the metaverse).

Many providers of monolithic platforms also have their roots in the pre-headless era, before cloud technology established itself in commerce tech. The downside of this is that these providers have their systems on-premises, so they’re not built API-first in the way headless technologies are. In the end, the foundations of monoliths often come with inherent limitations.

Myth 3: Composable is always the best choice.

Although Myplanet are experts and advocates in composable commerce, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend composable commerce to every brand. For some brands, all-in-one commerce platforms can address their needs just fine. For others, an entirely custom build might be the ideal solution, provided they have the appropriate resources for such an undertaking. But increasingly, composable commerce is the right choice for many brands, given how dynamic the world of retail has become.

The ideal use-case for choosing a composable commerce architecture is an omniretail brand that has reached a certain level of business complexity and digital maturity. What that looks like in practice can greatly vary, but some common qualities include:

• Operating in multiple countries and/or markets.

• Operating across multiple channels and touchpoints.

• Using multiple currencies or revenue models.

• Having a willingness to invest in technological innovation.

• Wanting to dedicate your tech strategy to managing a dynamic, curated suite.

Brands often start to consider a composable commerce solution when their current tech platform can no longer address their unique business needs or changing customer expectations. They’re limited to the current offerings or future features roadmap of their platform, and they may even have to compromise on certain services or features. Not only does this impact elements like a brand’s day-to-day design decisions or ongoing operations, but it also limits future growth opportunities.

Making Informed Decisions

As the composable commerce ecosystem continues to grow, so will the need for retailers to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, tech, and best practices. Whatever your digital strategy or tech roadmap looks like, your choice of commerce platform should be at the forefront. But at the end of the day, technology shouldn’t be a limiting factor for you—it should elevate and empower your brand.


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Tue, 27 Sep 2022 00:13:00 -0500 Jason Cottrell en text/html https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/09/27/three-composable-commerce-myths/
Killexams : IBM’s former CEO downplays the importance of a college degree for six-figure earning ‘new collar’ jobs that now make up half of its workers

A four-year bachelor’s degree has long been the first rung to climbing America’s corporate ladder.

But the move to prioritize skills over a college education is sweeping through some of America’s largest companies, including Google, EY, Microsoft, and Apple. Strong proponents say the shift helps circumvent a needless barrier to workplace diversity.

“I really do believe an inclusive diverse workforce is better for your company, it’s good for the business,” Ginni Rometty, former IBM CEO, told Fortune Media CEO Alan Murray during a panel last month for Connect, Fortune’s executive education community. “That’s not just altruistic.”

Under Rometty’s leadership in 2016, tech giant IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” in reference to roles that require a specific set of skills rather than a four-year degree. It’s a personal commitment for Rometty, one that hits close to home for the 40-year IBM veteran.

When Rometty was 16, her father left the family, leaving her mother, who’d never worked outside the home, suddenly in the position to provide.

“She had four children and nothing past high school, and she had to get a job to…get us out of this downward spiral,” Rometty recalled to Murray. “What I saw in that was that my mother had aptitude; she wasn’t dumb, she just didn’t have access, and that forever stayed in my mind.”

When Rometty became CEO in 2012 following the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate hovered around 8%. Despite the influx of applicants, she struggled to find employees who were trained in the particular cybersecurity area she was looking for.

“I realized I couldn’t hire them, so I had to start building them,” she said.

In 2011, IBM launched a corporate social responsibility effort called the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn. It’s since expanded to 11 states in the U.S. and 28 countries.

Through P-TECH, Rometty visited “a very poor high school in a bad neighborhood” that received the company’s support, as well as a community college where IBM was offering help with a technology-based curriculum and internships.

“Voilà! These kids could do the work. I didn’t have [applicants with] college degrees, so I learned that propensity to learn is way more important than just having a degree,” Rometty said.

Realizing the students were fully capable of the tasks that IBM needed moved Rometty to return to the drawing board when it came to IBM’s own application process and whom it was reaching. She said that at the time, 95% of job openings at IBM required a four-year degree. As of January 2021, less than half do, and the company is continuously reevaluating its roles.

For the jobs that now no longer require degrees and instead rely on skills and willingness to learn, IBM had always hired Ph.D. holders from the very best Ivy League schools, Rometty told Murray. But data shows that the degree-less hires for the same jobs performed just as well. “They were more loyal, higher retention, and many went on to get college degrees,” she said.

Rometty has since become cochair of OneTen, a civic organization committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing 1 million Black individuals without four-year degrees within the next 10 years.

If college degrees no longer become compulsory for white-collar jobs, many other qualifications—skills that couldn’t be easily taught in a boot camp, apprenticeship program, or in the first month on the job—could die off, too, University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Sean Martin told Fortune last year.

“The companies themselves miss out on people that research suggests…might be less entitled, more culturally savvy, more desirous of being there,” Martin said. Rather than pedigree, he added, hiring managers should look for motivation.

That’s certainly the case at IBM. Once the company widened its scope, Rometty said, the propensity to learn quickly became more of an important hiring factor than just a degree.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

More from Fortune:

A 2007 flashback: home flippers are in trouble again

Managing Gen Z is like working with people ‘from a different country’

The Renault Nissan empire once held together by fugitive Carlos Ghosn may slowly be unraveling

PayPal tells users it will fine them $2,500 for misinformation, then backtracks immediately

Sun, 16 Oct 2022 06:27:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ibm-former-ceo-downplays-importance-165139880.html
Killexams : IBM: A High-Yielding Income Generation Idea Worth A Look
Day 1 - Mobile World Congress 2022

David Ramos

By The Valuentum Team

International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM) has become a fundamentally different business in the past few years, one focused on providing hybrid cloud computing offerings. The company is a stellar free cash flow generator which enables IBM to reward investors via generous dividend increases, with shares of IBM yielding ~5.1% as of this writing. Substantial near-term headwinds remain, largely due to the various exogenous shocks seen of late (such as major inflationary pressures, rising interest rates, supply chain hurdles, and raging geopolitical tensions), though IBM is still worth considering as a high-yielding income generation idea.

IBM's Key Investment Considerations

Investment Considerations

Image Source: Valuentum

IBM solves business problems via integrated hardware/software solutions that leverage IT and its knowledge of business processes. Its solutions help reduce a client's costs or enable new capabilities that generate revenue. The company was founded in 1924 and is headquartered in New York.

Back in 2019, IBM bought Red Hat (a top provider of open source cloud software) through a ~$34 billion deal which made IBM a contending hybrid cloud provider. IBM is looking to seize what it describes as a ~$1 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity, and exact growth in this area has been encouraging. IBM's revamped management team is working hard to turn things around after the company made various blunders during the 2010s decade. Its current Chairman and CEO, Arvind Krishna, has done a solid job righting the ship at IBM since taking on the top role in 2020.

In November 2021, IBM spun off its legacy business tax-free to shareholders as a new publicly traded entity, Kyndryl Holdings, Inc. (KD). Initially, IBM retained a 19.9% stake in Kyndryl though the firm intends to exit that position within 12 months of the spinoff.

Earnings Update

On July 18, IBM reported earnings for the second quarter of 2022 that beat both consensus top- and bottom-line estimates. Its GAAP revenues rose by 9% year-over-year to hit $15.5 billion with strong growth at its Red Hat, various consulting services, and hybrid infrastructure offerings being key here. When removing foreign currency headwinds arising from the strong US dollar seen of late from the picture, IBM's non-GAAP constant currency revenues were up 16% year-over-year last quarter. IBM's portfolio optimization efforts are having a very powerful impact on its financial performance.

The firm's GAAP gross margin fell by ~185 basis points year-over-year last quarter, falling down to 55.4%. However, economies of scale helped drive its GAAP income from continuing operations up by 81% year-over-year in the second quarter, rising to $1.5 billion. There is some noise here due to the separation of IBM's legacy businesses (via the spinoff of Kyndryl) from its core operations. Keeping that noise in mind, IBM's underlying operations have performed quite well of late.

During its second quarter earnings call, IBM's management team noted the firm now forecasted that its full-year free cash flows would come in near $10.0 billion in 2022, at the low end of its previous forecast. IBM generated $3.6 billion in free cash flow (defined as net operating cash flow less 'payments for property, plant, and equipment' and 'investment in software') while spending $3.0 billion covering its dividend obligations during the first half of 2022. Its modest share repurchases during this period were related to tax withholding purposes as the new IBM is focused on retaining cash to invest in the business. We appreciate that IBM's dividend obligations remain well-covered by its traditional free cash flows.

The company exited June 2022 with a net debt load of $42.8 billion (inclusive of short-term debt, exclusive of restricted cash). One of the biggest risks to IBM's dividend is its large net debt load. IBM had $7.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and current marketable securities on hand at the end of June 2022 which provides the company with ample liquidity to meet its near-term funding needs.

IBM continues to expect that its constant currency revenues will grow decently this year (in the mid-single digit range), though sustained foreign currency headwinds are expected to offset strong demand for its offerings, to a degree. Over the long haul, we forecast that under its new management team, IBM will return to stable revenue growth which in turn should see the company's free cash flows swell higher. That would allow IBM to boost its dividend in a sustainable manner going forward, though we caution that its net debt load could limit the size of any future payout increases.

Dividend Analysis

Table of IBM's Dividend Cushion ratio as derived by Valuentum.

IBM's forward-looking dividend coverage is weighed down negatively by its large net debt load. (Valuentum)

The Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction, shown in the image up above, reveals the numerator and denominator of the Dividend Cushion ratio. At the core, the larger the numerator, or the healthier a company's balance sheet and future free cash flow generation, relative to the denominator, or a company's cash dividend obligations, the more durable the dividend.

The Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction image puts sources of free cash in the context of financial obligations next to expected cash dividend payments over the next 5 years on a side-by-side comparison. Because the Dividend Cushion ratio and many of its components are forward-looking, our dividend evaluation may change upon subsequent updates as future forecasts are altered to reflect new information.

In the context of the Dividend Cushion ratio, IBM's numerator is smaller than its denominator, which suggests weak forward-looking dividend coverage. However, given IBM's strong and stable cash flow profile, we view its forward-looking dividend coverage favorably when considering IBM's ability to tap capital markets into account. Should IBM stumble for any reason, its ability to make good on its payout may be in danger.

IBM's Economic Profit Analysis

The best measure of a firm's ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital ['ROIC'] with its weighted average cost of capital ['WACC']. The gap or difference between ROIC and WACC is called the firm's economic profit spread. IBM's 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 41.6%, which is above the estimate of its cost of capital of 9.2%.

In the chart down below, we show the probable path of ROIC in the years ahead based on the estimated volatility of key drivers behind the measure. The solid grey line reflects the most likely outcome, in our opinion, and represents the scenario that results in our fair value estimate. Assuming IBM's exact portfolio optimization efforts go as planned, the firm's ability to generate shareholder value (which historically has been impressive) should continue to improve.

Adjusted Return on Invested Capital

Image Source: Valuentum

IBM's Cash Flow Valuation Analysis

Cash Flow Generation

Image Source: Valuentum

Our discounted cash flow process values each firm on the basis of the present value of all future free cash flows, net of balance sheet considerations. We think IBM is worth $136 per share with a fair value range of $101-$171 per share. Shares of IBM are trading moderately below our fair value estimate as of this writing.

The near-term operating forecasts used in our enterprise cash flow model, including revenue and earnings, do not differ much from consensus estimates or management guidance. Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of 3.4% during the next five years, a pace that is higher than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of -10.3%.

Our model reflects a 5-year projected average operating margin of 17.6%, which is above IBM's trailing 3-year average. Beyond Year 5, we assume free cash flow will grow at an annual rate of 2% for the next 15 years and 3% in perpetuity. For IBM, we use a 9.2% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows.

Valuation Assumptions

Image Source: Valuentum

Valuation Breakdown

Image Source: Valuentum

IBM's Margin of Safety Analysis

Range of Potential Outcomes

Image Source: Valuentum

Although we estimate IBM's fair value at about $136 per share, every company has a range of probable fair values that's created by the uncertainty of key valuation drivers (like future revenue or earnings, for example). After all, if the future were known with certainty, we wouldn't see much volatility in the markets as stocks would trade precisely at their known fair values.

In the graphic up above, we show this probable range of fair values for IBM. We think the firm is attractive below $101 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $171 per share (the red line). The prices that fall along the yellow line, which includes our fair value estimate, represent a reasonable valuation for the firm, in our opinion.

Concluding Thoughts

The steady decline in IBM's legacy business since 2010 represents a major reason why the firm spun off Kyndryl in November 2021. Going forward, IBM will need to prove that as a leaner and more focused enterprise, it can maintain solid revenue and operating income growth over the long haul. We think that will be the case, though substantial near-term headwinds remain. Investors looking for an income generation idea backed up by a strong cash flow profile should take a closer look at IBM.

Tue, 20 Sep 2022 20:10:00 -0500 en text/html https://seekingalpha.com/article/4542216-ibm-stock-high-yielding-income-generation-idea-worth-look
Killexams : IBM: The Most Innovative and Prizewinning Tech Company

Founded in 1911 as a Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, International Business Machines (IBM) needs to keep its finger on the pulse of the development of information technology not to be ousted by younger tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. With the advent of the internet, IBM needed to widen the spectrum of its products and services to retain its strong position in the tech field. Although the company lost its dominance, having only a 5% market share in 2021, as opposed to 68% shared by Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, it has many spectacular achievements to its credit. IBM holds more patents than any other technology company and takes pride in employees who have earned five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. And it had been the top tech company for longer than any of the titans dominating the market now. 

Also called “Big Blue,” IBM indeed has an impressive pedigree. After starting to produce hardware at the beginning of the last century, it thrived in this business for decades and became the leading provider of mainframe computers worldwide. IBM’s gross income had inexorably grown in the last part of the twentieth century, expanding from $14.450 billion earned in 1975 to $71.940 billion made in 1995. The company’s revenue skyrocketed to the record level of $106.9 billion in 2011, after which it has steadily been declining amidst its transition into new technologies and lines of business. To move with the times and survive the competition from other tech titans, IBM gradually shifted its focus from hardware to software and services. It began to devote more energy and money to cloud-based services and cognitive computing. IBM focuses now on offering primarily network services, application services, cloud services, digital workplace services, business processes and operations, technology consulting services, and AI services. IBM Watson, a cognitive system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, has become the company’s high-visibility offering in the technology field. IBM has a strong faith in Watson, promoting the system as a benevolent digital assistant that would help hospitals, offices, factories, and farms. The company’s white paper referred to Watson as “the future of knowing.”

To see how well IBM has prepared for, what it calls, the new age of understanding, study the statistical data presented below.

Sources: IBM, Wikipedia

 IBM’s Outstanding Achievements

  • In 1891, IBM, then called CTR, invented the computing scale that could show both the weight and the proportionate price of the product simultaneously.
  • In 1888, the company invented the Time Clock, a device that records start and end times for hourly employees. Then, it designed the punch card base data processing machines. IBM is also responsible for inventing the magnetic stripe technology and the Universal Product Code.
  • IBM designed and developed the first smartphone in the world, launching it in November 1992. Designed by IBM and manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, the device had a touchscreen, a calculator app, email capability, 2 MB RAM, and 2 MB internal storage. There were about 50,000 of these smartphones sold for $899 a unit.
  • IBM also revolutionized the computer industry, inventing DRAM, floppy disk, SQL programming language, ATMs, and hard disk drives.
  • IBM also invented the first personal computer, known as the IBM PC. It was launched in August 1981 and acquired by many companies before PCs were commercialized.
  • Since 1920, IBM has received 151,302 US patents. In 2019, the company received a staggering amount of 9,262 US patents. A year later, IBM beat the record of most US patents received by a business for 27 consecutive years. In 2021, IBM had 1,811 patents granted, while this year it has so far received 492 patents.
  • IBM has long worked with NASA. Although IBM contributed to many missions, the most memorable is landing on the Moon in 1969. IBM’s responsibility was to develop the software and various programs, build computers, and streamline the mission for NASA.
  • One of the fascinating inventions of IBM is the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope developed in 1981 for imaging at the atomic level. Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer received the Noble Prize in Physics in 1986 for the invention. 
  • IBM developed several chess computers, the most popular of which is Deep Blue. In 1996, Deep Blue beat the chess world champion, Garry Kasparov, who accused IBM of cheating. IBM declined Kasparov’s offer of a rematch. 
  • IBM invented the ASME (The Anatomic and Symbolic Mapper Engine) that offers a 3D interactive avatar of the human body to doctors in real-time, helping them visualize patients’ medical records.
  • Big Blue made LASIK eye surgery mainstream.
  • The company invented the IBM 2990 Blood Cell Separator, designed to harvest white blood cells from blood donors to support patients with leukemia. Later, IBM engineers improved the device, introducing its more sophisticated version, IBM 2997.
  • IBM offers the IBM LinuxONE for cloud computing solutions. This powerful computer system can manage the work of 1000×86 servers simultaneously on a single platform.  

IBM Statistics in 2022

  • Over 90% of credit card transactions are processed by IBM mainframes.
  • About 80% of global retailers use IBM retail solutions in their stores and for online sales.
  • Over 80% of travel reservations are processed through an IBM product.
  • Nearly 97% of banks worldwide use IBM products.
  • There are 245,000 IBM employees worldwide in 2022.
  • IBM employees live in 170 countries.
  • There are 130,000 IBM employees in India.
  • 3,000 researchers are working in IBM’s fifteen laboratories around the world.
  • During the pandemic, between 2020 and 2021, IBM reduced the number of its employees by around 0.24%.
  • Over 29% of IBM managers are women.
  • There are an average of 108 applications per available job position at the company. 
  • Every day, IBM handles 70 billion security events.
  • Every second, it manages 8.18 million security events.
  • Over 27.3 million people use the IBM website every month.
  • The IBM website has a bounce rate of 52.66%.
  • In 2020, IBM’s earnings hit about $73 billion.
  • In 2021, its global revenue diminished by 22%.
  • Almost half of IBM’s revenue is generated in the North American market.
  • IBM bought Red Hat for $33.4 billion.
  • Cognos was purchased by IBM for $4.9 billion in 2008.
  • Big Blue acquired SoftLayer Technologies in 2013 reportedly for $2 billion.
  • To date, IBM has acquired more than 183 companies.

Facts about IBM’s Incumbent CEO, Arvind Krishna

  • Arvind Krishna became IBM’s CEO in 2020, arriving with the mission to reverse the company’s decline. He is expected to create a new line of business that would rediscover IBM’s former glory.
  • Before becoming the company’s CEO, Krishna worked as the Senior Vice President for IBM’s cloud and cognitive software. He developed IBM’s security software business.
  • Krishna was the general manager of IBM Systems and Technology Group’s development and manufacturing organization. He also managed IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat and supervised its synergy with IBM.
  • Krishna is the co-author of 15 patents and has been the editor of IEEE and ACM journals. He has received distinguished alumni awards from IITK and the University of Illinois, where he completed his PhD. His scholarly articles appear in numerous journals.
  • Krishna leads the IBM business unit that provides the cloud and data platform. His responsibilities include IBM Research, IBM Cloud, and IBM’s security and Cognitive Application business.
  • Krishna guides IBM’s overall strategy in core and emerging technologies including AI, quantum computing, blockchain, cloud platform services, data-driven solutions, and nanotechnology.
  • IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna was paid $17.5 million for 2021, up from $17 million paid in the year before, according to IBM’s 2022 Notice of Annual General Meeting and Proxy Statement.
  • In 2021, IBM’s board approved an annual incentive payment of $2.9 million to Krishna for the 2021 performance, which was 98% of the target.
  • The estimated net worth of Arvind Krishna was about $27.4 million in June 2022. He also owns over 21,803 units of International Business Machines stock worth over $23,629,581.

Source: Fortune

IBM’s Annual Revenue since 2000

Once an unparalleled tech giant, IBM has been struggling for the last decade. It had to adjust to the changing world by selling its low-margin businesses and investing in high-margin ones. To implement its strategies, Big Blue sold IBM WebSphere Commerce to HCL Technologies in 2018 and a part of the Watson Health business at the beginning of this year. Although IBM’s earnings are still high, they do not reach the levels hit between 2006 and 2012. The company’s annual revenue skyrocketed to $106.9 billion in 2011, whereas it was only $57 billion last year. In the second quarter of 2022, IBM’s earnings dropped below expectations. IBM’s falling fortune is reflected in the table below:

IBM’s Annual Revenue since 2000 (in $US Billion)

Year Annual Revenue (in $US Billion)
2000 $88.4
2001 $83.07
2002 $81.19
2003 $89.13
2004 $96.29
2005 $91.13
2006 $91.42
2007 $98.79
2008 $103.63
2009 $95.76
2010 $99.87
2011 $106.92
2012 $104.51
2013 $99.75
2014 $92.8
2015 $81.74
2016 $79.92
2017 $79.14
2018 $79.59
2019 $57.71
2020 $55.18
2021 $57.35
2022 (Q1; Q2) $14.2 billion; $15.5 billion

Source: Statista; IBM

IBM’s Annual Revenue by Segment for 2020-2021

Big Blue has repeatedly changed the segment reporting to reflect its move away from being hardware, software, and service company towards becoming a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. It changed its segment reporting in 2016, 2019, and 2021. The last change was dictated by IBM’s need to align its segment reporting with its platform-centric approach to hybrid cloud and AI. There are presently six segments in IBM’s business: Technology Services and Cloud Platforms, Infrastructure, Software, Consulting, Financing, and Other. In 2021, IBM’s software segment generated $24.14 billion of its global revenue of $57.35 billion. In 2022 so far, the Software division earned $5.77 billion and $6.2 billion, in the first and second quarters, respectively. The Consulting sector brought the company $4.83 billion in Q1 and $4.8 billion in Q2 of the current year. The revenue earned by the Infrastructure segment amounted to $3.22 billion in the first quarter and $4.0 billion in the second quarter. Revenues generated by IBM’s segments in the last two years are shown in the table below:

IBM’s Annual Revenue by Segment for 2020-2021 (in $US billion)

Segment 2020 2021
Software $22.93 $24.14
Consulting $16.26 $17.84
Infrastructure $14.53 $14.19
Financing $0.98 $0.77
Technology Services and Cloud $25.00 $28.00
Other  $0.49 $0.41

Source: Statista

Worldwide Market Share of Cloud Infrastructure Providers in Q2 2022

In the second quarter of 2022, IBM’s Cloud Infrastructure had only a 4% share of the worldwide market, lagging behind Amazon, Azure, and Google Cloud. The spending on global cloud infrastructure services soared to $55 billion and thus brought the industry’s total for the twelve months to more than $203.5 billion. Outshining IBM, Amazon and Microsoft together accounted for more than half of cloud infrastructure revenues in the three months that ended on June 30.

These figures show how much Big Blue fell from grace because, in the past, it used to enjoy the leading position. In 2017, IBM reported cloud revenue growth of 33% year-over-year in its first quarter earnings. In that quarter, its cloud revenue jumped to $3.5 billion. IBM’s total cloud revenue over the past 12 months that year hit $41.6 billion and catapulted IBM to the top of the list in the field of enterprise cloud.  In the first quarter of 2017, today’s winners were obliged only to trail behind with lower earnings: Microsoft with $14 billion, Amazon with $12.20 billion, and Google with $10 billion. The latest market share of the main providers of cloud infrastructure can be seen in the table below:

Worldwide Market Share of Cloud Infrastructure Providers in Q2 2022

Company Market Share
AWS 34%
Azure 21%
Google Cloud 10%
Alibaba Cloud 5%
IBM Cloud 4%
Salesforce 3%
Tencent Cloud 3%
Oracle Cloud 2%

Sources: Statista, IBM

IBM’s Annual Net Income since 2009

Net income is defined as a company’s net profit or loss after it has accounted for all its revenues, income items, and expenses. IBM’s net income for the quarter ending on June 30, 2022, was $1.292 billion, which constituted a 5.06% jump year-over-year. The company’s net profit for the 12 months ending on June 30, 2022, was $5.588 billion, demonstrating an increase of 4.76% year-over-year. Last year, IBM’s annual net income reached $5.743 billion, a 2.74% surge from 2020. The first year of the pandemic brought IBM a net income of $5.59 billion, which was a whopping 40.73% drop from 2019. In 2019, IBM’s annual net profit was $9.431 billion, an 8.05% advance from 2018. The uneven trajectory of IBM’s annual net income is drawn in the table below:

IBM’s Annual Net Income since 2009 (in $US Billion)

Year Net Income in $US Billion
2009 $13.425
2010 $14.833
2011 $15.855
2012 $16.604
2013 $16.483
2014 $12.022
2015 $13.190
2016 $11.872
2017 $5.753
2018 $8.728
2019 $9.431
2020 -$5.590
2021 $5.743

IBM’s Number of Employees Worldwide from 2000 to 2022

IBM is the fifth largest employer in the United States. In 2021, the company employed 282,000 people worldwide. This year, the number of people working for Big Blue dipped to 245,000. As the company has lately been struggling, experiencing drops in its revenues, it is trying to restructure its business and be on par with such tech giants as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Hence the decline in the number of its employees this year. The table below shows how the number of IBM’s employees has changed over the years:

IBM’s Number of Employees Worldwide from 2000 to 2022 (in 1,000s) 

Year Number of Employees (in 1,000s)
2000 316.3
2001 319.88
2002 315.89
2003 319.27
2004 329
2005 329.37
2006 355.77
2007 386.56
2008 398.46
2009 399.41
2010 426.75
2011 433.36
2012 434.25
2013 431.21
2014 379.59
2015 377.76
2016 380.3
2017 366.6
2018 350.6
2019 352.6
2020 345.9
2021 282.1
2022 245

Source: Statista

Conclusion

As the world is facing a probable recession, analysts believe that the enterprise tech sector will still continue going strong. People who are tech-savvy will turn to IBM in these unpleasant times to help them survive in a tighter economic environment and use the company’s software, consulting, and infrastructure to work productively during an economic decline. Big Blue can definitely provide the products and services people will need in the near future. IBM’s Q2 2022 results signify that technology spending in such spheres as AI, cloud, automation and networking is steady. The company beat anticipated results in the second quarter and boasted its first double-digit quarterly revenue growth in more than a decade. Automatic calculations conducted at Coinpriceforecast.com inspire faith in the company’s future and the cost of its stock. At the beginning of the year, IBM’s stock price was $116.92. At the time of writing, IBM is trading at $118.81, thus demonstrating a 2% jump from January 2022. Coinpriceforecast.com foresees that by Christmas, IBM will surge to $138. In the first half of 2023, the price of the stock might advance to $145 and end the next year at $155, adding 30% to today’s price. Whether or not these predictions prove to be correct, IBM will surely continue pushing technology and innovation forward, as it has spectacularly done since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mon, 10 Oct 2022 00:38:00 -0500 Daniel Shvartsman en-US text/html https://www.investing.com/academy/statistics/ibm-facts/
Killexams : IBM Research Secures Future Safe From Quantum Attacks

Quantum computing will bring unimagined innovations to the world when it finally arrives in full glory. Still, quantum remains in the research labs at companies like IBM, Google, and Microsoft. While companies and research institutions are investing billions of dollars to increase the capacity of quantum systems, a time will come in the following years, or decades, when researchers will reach "quantum supremacy." But these large quantum marvels could also jeopardize the security of critical information systems. Researchers, including IBM are working to develop new security algorithms that will be resilient to these attacks.

The Quantum Threat to Security

While quantum can solve computing challenges far beyond what is possible today, its ability to find the factors of large prime numbers makes it the ideal cybersecurity safe cracker once quantum computing systems mature in their scale, quality, and speed. Every computer system and every bit of "secure" data could become vulnerable to attack from quantum-equipped nefarious actors. The World Economic Forum "estimate(s) that over 20 billion digital devices will need to be either upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years to use the new forms of quantum-resistant encrypted communication. We recommend that organizations start planning for this now.

What constitutes "adequate size" might deliver us some false comfort: a 2019 study suggested that a computer with 20 million qubits would take eight hours to break modern encryption. Today's quantum computers are on the order of only 100 qubits. But while that implies that the threat is in the distant future, one must consider that a bad actor doesn't need to wait for the massive quantum system to materialize. The "Steal now, crack later" approach leads to a latent future security threat. Consequently, organizations should deploy quantum-safe security as soon as possible to minimize future risk.

Stopping Quantum Attacks Before They Begin

Consequently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been conducting an ongoing search for quantum-safe security algorithms that are both secure and efficient. After all, we need our laptops, cars, and mobile phones to also be able to resist attacks from quantum-equipped bad actors. After four rounds of submissions, NIST selected four algorithms from a slate of 82 candidates. IBM Research had submitted 3 of the four chosen algorithms. All submissions have been subjected to research by industry scrutiny by government agencies, academic scientists, and mathematicians. This process is now reaching its conclusion; the NIST is expected to publish standards based on these 4 algorithms sometime in 2024.

The NIST contest covers the two aspects of security that could be vulnerable to quantum computing: public key encapsulation (used for public-key encryption and key establishment) and digital signatures (used for identity authentication and non-repudiation). For the former, NIST selected the CRYSTALS-Kyber algorithm. NIST selected three algorithms for signatures: CRYSTALS-Dilithium, FALCON, and SPHINCS+, with CRYSTALS-Dilithium as the primary algorithm in the signature category.

The Telco Industry Steps Up to Address Quantum Safe

On September 29, GSMA announced the formation of the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce, of which IBM and Vodafone are initial members, to help define policy, regulation and operator business processes to enhance protections of telecommunications in a future of advanced quantum computing. Since virtually all organizations and sectors conduct commerce on the internet, and the 800 providers whose pipes that carry all the internet traffic, the Telco industry is a good place to start. We expect other sectors to follow suit, perhaps starting with banking, government, and health care.

IBM Adds Quantum-Safe Security to the IBM z16

Given the magnitude of the potential risks, and the predominance of IBM Z systems in security-critical applications, IBM has included future-proof digital signature support in its latest z16 mainframe using CRYSTALS-Kyber and CRYSTALS -Dilithium algorithms selected by NIST. z16 implements this algorithm across multiple layers of firmware to help protect business-critical infrastructure and data from future quantum attacks. IBM has said it is also working to bring these new methods to the broader market.

In addition, IBM has developed a multi-step process to assist clients toward rapidly making institutions quantum safe. The company works with clients to identify where they are vulnerable to quantum-based cryptography attacks, assess cryptographic maturity and dependencies, and identify near-term achievable cryptographic goals and projects. The risks clients may face vary substantially based on the type of applications and data an organization handles and the state of its current cryptography.

Conclusions

Quantum computing's potential threat to global information security may seem to be a distant and abstract risk. However, the inevitable advances of quantum technology and the "Steal now, crack later" approach bad actors are undertaking to make quantum-safe a genuine and pressing matter for vendors and IT organizations. IBM wasted no time bringing that technology to market in the IBM z16. IBM Research has contributed three of the four algorithms the NIST quantum-safe contest has selected to be the most viable, secure, and efficient of the 70 techniques evaluated.

Beyond the NIST-approved algorithms, IBM Is working to provide “crypto agility”, helping organizations not only replace the soon-to-fail existing algorithms but also transform their security practices to remain resilient as new threats emerge in the post-quantum world. Creating crypto observability, enabling ongoing monitoring and actions on crypto-related security items, will help keep the world safer from bad actors with virtually unlimited computing capacity at their disposal.

More information can be found at here.

Disclosures: This article expresses the opinions of the authors, and is not to be taken as advice to purchase from nor invest in the companies mentioned. Cambrian AI Research is fortunate to have many, if not most, semiconductor firms as our clients, including Blaize, Cerebras, D-Matrix, Esperanto, FuriosaAI, Graphcore, GML, IBM, Intel, Mythic, NVIDIA, Qualcomm Technologies, Si-Five, SiMa.ai, Synopsys, and Tenstorrent. We have no investment positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article and do not plan to initiate any in the near future. For more information, please visit our website at https://cambrian-AI.com.

Wed, 28 Sep 2022 12:00:00 -0500 Karl Freund en text/html https://www.forbes.com/sites/karlfreund/2022/09/29/ibm-research-prepares-for-a-world-safe-from-quantum-attacks/
Killexams : Better Buy: IBM Stock vs. 2-Year Treasury Notes

Investors this year increasingly turned away from dividend stocks in favor of the rising yields being offered on bonds. Given that investors can now earn a 4.3% return on a 2-year Treasury note, many prefer that guaranteed return to the risks of putting money into the stock market.

International Business Machines (IBM 1.62%) offers a dividend yield that exceeds that bond return. But with a bear market in progress, are investors better served to take a chance on the cloud stock or to take the 4.3% return at virtually zero risk?

IBM and its dividend

IBM didn't participate in the bull market of the 2010s. The stock dropped as its tech businesses suffered a considerable growth slowdown. In an effort to change that, IBM pivoted into the cloud computing sector aggressively, in part via its $34 billion purchase of Red Hat in 2019. Grand View Research forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2030 for the cloud industry. Growth like that could certainly help both IBM and its stock.

Also, IBM spun off its managed infrastructure business into a new public company, Kyndryl. This business was less of a fit with the parent company amid its pivot to the cloud. Separating it off should make it easier for IBM to grow its revenue.

Time will tell if these moves can help the stock price recover. Nonetheless, IBM currently pays its shareholders $1.65 per share every quarter, or $6.60 per share annually. At the current stock price, that adds up to a yield of 5.6% per year. Moreover, depending on your financial situation, the IRS may tax your dividends at a lower capital gains rate, which can offer an added advantage.

Additionally, IBM hiked its payout annually for 27 consecutive years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat. That status carries some importance as many income investors will be more inclined to buy and hold IBM stock because of this status. Also, since abandoning Dividend Aristocrat status tends to hurt a stock, management will probably prioritize maintaining it by continuing to raise those payouts.

Investors also can also reinvest their dividend payments into more IBM stock. However, such newly purchased shares will pay you the dividend yield at that time. The return will rise if the stock falls since investors can buy the exact cash return at a lower price. Conversely, cash yields will drop if the stock rises, but those investors still benefit since the stock has increased in value.

What to know about 2-year Treasury notes

U.S. Treasury notes offer more stability than stocks such as IBM. Investors who purchase the 2-year Treasury note receive semiannual interest payments. At the current interest rate of 4.3%, investors will receive a 2.15% cash return on their invested amount in each of the subsequent three six-month periods. In the fourth period, when the note matures, investors receive the final 2.15% payment along with the return of their principal.

Investors should also be aware that bond values can fluctuate. If interest rates drop, the value of the bond will fall; the opposite will happen if rates rise. This affects investors if they decide to sell the bond early. Upon maturity, the note will return to its par (or nominal) value.

Additionally, bond interest payments are subject to federal income tax but exempt from state and local taxes. In some cases, this is higher than taxes on dividends. Still, bond issuers are obligated to make such payments. In contrast, IBM faces no legal obligation to continue its dividend.

Also, like with a stock, investors can reinvest their interest payments into more notes or other forms of Treasury bonds. However, those purchases will be subject to the prevailing interest rates at that time.

IBM or the 2-year Treasury note?

Investors who lack much risk tolerance should choose the Treasury note. Given its guaranteed return, they will not have to worry about volatility.

Nonetheless, for investors comfortable with buying stocks, IBM is a surprisingly strong buy. The cloud industry is in growth mode, which should propel IBM stock to a long-awaited turnaround. Moreover, IBM has repeatedly shown it wants to hold on to its Dividend Aristocrat status. This should deliver its income investors returns that are not only larger than the bonds offer, but also likely to increase in size.

Will Healy has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Fri, 14 Oct 2022 00:20:00 -0500 Will Healy en text/html https://www.fool.com/investing/2022/10/14/better-buy-ibm-stock-vs-2-year-treasury-note/
Killexams : IBM Gets a Quant Upgrade, But What do the Charts THINK?

IBM (IBM) was upgraded Friday by TheStreet's Quant Ratings service. Long-time Real Money subscribers have come to learn I like to combine investment approaches. No one investment approach (fundamental, technical, quantitative) is perfect and better results can come from blending or combining different methods.

Let's see what could Boost the charts of IBM keeping in mind this quantitative upgrade.

In the daily bar chart of IBM, below, we can see that the shares have moved in a broad sideways trend the past 12 months. The 200-day moving average line has slowly moved up and then down in what could be considered a neutral band.

The On-Balance-Volume (OBV) line has also moved sideways suggesting a balance between buyers and sellers. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) oscillator is currently in a bearish alignment below the zero line but the trend of the past year has been sideways.

In the weekly Japanese candlestick chart of IBM, below, we can see a broad sideways trend to trading the past 18 months or so. Trading volume has slowed in the past few months and the weekly OBV line shows a decline from February. So far prices have held relatively steady but that may not continue if weakness in the broader market averages continues.

The MACD oscillator is slightly above the zero line and looks like it will cross the line in the near future.

In this daily Point and Figure chart of IBM, below, we can see a possible downside price target in the $109 area. A trade at $122.47 is needed to refresh the downtrend.

In this second Point and Figure chart of IBM, below, we used weekly price data. Here a price target of $108 is shown.

Bottom-line strategy: IBM could continue to trade in a broad sideways pattern but further weakness cannot be ruled out as weak market conditions can mean that traders sell first and ask questions later.

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Fri, 16 Sep 2022 05:38:00 -0500 BRUCE KAMICH en text/html https://realmoney.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/ibm-gets-support-from-a-quantitative-upgrade-16100259
Killexams : IBM set to buy Dialexa, adding to list of more than 25 acquisitions since April 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – In a move to enhance its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities, IBM will buy the digital product engineering consulting services firm Dialexa in a deal that will close later this year.

IBM announced the deal in a statement, which also notes that the purchase of the firm will “deepen IBM’s product engineering expertise and provide end-to-end digital transformation services for clients.”

When the deal closes, Dialexa will become the sixth company bought by IBM in 2022.

But Big Blue has been on a buying frenzy since April 2020, when Arvind Krishna became the company’s CEO.  According to the company, IBM has acquired more than 25 other firms, with 13 to bolster IBM Consulting.

The latest acquisition of Dialexa points toward how IBM may grow its consulting services presence.

“In this digital era, clients are looking for the right mix of high-quality products to build new revenue streams and Boost topline growth,” said John Granger, senior vice president, IBM Consulting, in a statement. “Dialexa’s product engineering expertise, combined with IBM’s hybrid cloud and business transformation offerings, will help our clients turn concepts into differentiated product portfolios that accelerate growth.”

The company’s 300 employees are based in Dallas and in Chicago, and will join IBM Consulting, according to the statement.  Among the firm’s clients is Toyota Motor North America, which will invest $2.5 billion in North Carolina to build the company’s first U.S. electric battery manufacturing plant in Randolph County.

Thu, 22 Sep 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://wraltechwire.com/2022/09/23/ibm-set-to-buy-dialexa-adding-to-list-of-more-than-25-acquisitions-since-april-2020/
Killexams : Behind the curtain: How L.A.’s working magicians hone their tricks in private ‘magic jams’

Call them the wonder boys. They’re in the business of manufacturing the effect.

Derek McKee, Franco Pascali and Zach Davidson may look like clean-cut 20-somethings kicking back in an Arts District loft on a Friday night. They’re decked out in designer leisurewear, swig coffee and pass a nicotine vape between them, and the reminiscences and laughter come quick and repeatedly.

“Dude, we have so many good memories!” Davidson says, slamming his hand onto the marble dining table they’re gathered around.

Except the vast tabletop is scattered with about 17 decks of playing cards — some of them unused and still plastic-wrapped, others well-worn — and as they talk, each nonchalantly wields an open deck in his hand, manipulating the cards into extravagant, almost sculptural arrangements.

Davidson, McKee and Pascali are highly trained working magicians, and the moves they’re performing are called “cardistry,” a visually dynamic, kinetic art form that’s part juggling and part “card flourishing,” the latter referring to how magicians manipulate playing cards to deliver their acts oomph when performing tricks.

Magicians hone their sleight-of-hand skills during small gatherings called “magic jams.”

Cardistry, however, needs no tricks; it’s an art form unto itself. McKee, Pascali and Davidson — who met more than a decade ago through the Magic Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts Junior Society, which mentors young magicians — perform around the U.S. and have mastered some of the most difficult cardistry moves.

There’s the judo flip, spinning and flicking the cards with one hand; the flower fan, achieved by bending the cards lengthwise while spreading them out to create a three-dimensional fan; and L-cuts, a glorified shuffle achieved by sliding cards upward with one’s pinkies.

To watch them all go at it at once feels a bit like sitting inside of a pinwheel in a windstorm, bits of multicolored plastic flipping and whirring erratically across one’s field of vision.

“We’re always in the pursuit of wonder,” McKee says, cutting a deck over and over again with one hand, his fingers rapidly crawling over the card edges as the segments become increasingly slimmer. He’s blasé about it, slunk down in his chair and eyes directed elsewhere, as if subconsciously tapping a pencil on the tabletop while talking.

A magician fans out cards.

“It’s psychology and sleight of hand,” Pascali says of magic. He flicks the cards into the air with one hand so they form geometric, three-dimensional shapes. Poof: suddenly, a Cubist-looking flower!

“It’s a creative, intellectual endeavor,” adds Davidson, swiftly fanning the deck out on the table, then wiping it closed with one quick swoop.

Tonight’s get-together is what magicians call a “magic jam.” It’s a chance to connect with other like-minded magicians and share tips while honing skills. Often magicians will work through a challenging trick at a magic jam, or get feedback on a line of dialogue for a show.

At bigger jams, often held in the backrooms of bars or restaurants, there might be more than a dozen magicians, at different stages of their careers and of varying skill levels, in attendance, with legendary performers mentoring up-and-comers.

But magicians are nothing if not protective of their secrets, and newspaper reporters — particularly those with photographers in tow — are generally not welcomed at such events. Tonight’s more intimate jam, at McKee’s home, is purposeful. The focus? McKee’s upcoming show.

McKee has just wrapped up a show, “This Is Only a Trick,” which ran for six months at the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill Theater. The contemporary-style show included new spins on classic magic tricks, with plenty of audience participation and a hip-hop, EDM and pop soundtrack. He’ll be debuting a new iteration of the show at Art Beyond Survival gallery in the Arts District on Oct. 28.

But first, he must figure out how to reformat the material, which played to an audience of 80, for a more intimate crowd of 40.

“I think I can still do card manip there,” McKee says.

“Have you thought about cups and balls as the start of Act Two?” Davidson asks.

“Yeah,” McKee says. “I’d love to do this very beautiful, sitting-at-a-table cups, set to the Willy Wonka song, to close out the show.”

Three men with cards at a table.

Derek McKee, center, and fellow magicians Zach Davidson, left, and Franco Pascali hone their sleight-of-hand skills and work out reformatting challenges for McKee’s upcoming show, to be held in an Arts District gallery.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

McKee, 28, has a young Leonardo DiCaprio-like, brooding golden boy look to him. He grew up in Littleton, Colo., where he hung out at — and later worked in — a magic shop from age 10.

He’s been performing magic internationally since age 13 — including in Las Vegas and privately for the likes of Elton John and one Dubai prince, who flew him to the United Arab Emirates for a show when he was still in high school. He served as a magic talent scout for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” for three seasons. He also produces playing cards through his company, “Pure Imagination Projects,” which has sold more than 250,000 decks, he says, since 2013.

The 25-year-old Pascali, a self-described magician, cardist and visual artist, grew up in Glendale and was bitten by the magic bug as early as 4 years old, though he didn’t pursue it until he was 7, after seeing a David Blaine special on TV. He rebelled from magic for a few years, occupying himself with skateboarding and video games instead; with his baggy, brightly colored sweater and shaggy bangs cascading from under a black baseball cap, he still has a skater look to him.

But then he got serious about magic at 14, and it’s been “nothing but full-throttle, increasing exponentially passion” since. Pascali now makes a living “piecemeal” from performing at L.A. venues, such as the Magic Castle and Black Rabbit Rose, as well as at private events, teaching magic on Zoom, doing consulting and freelance work for other magicians and magic companies, and manufacturing playing cards through his company, Cartelago.

Davidson, 24, considers himself to be an entrepreneur and with neatly cropped hair, black pants and a fitted black T-shirt, he looks the part. He grew up in Westwood and is the only one of the group who followed a conventional path and graduated from college — he studied business at USC. He’s now the founder of a venture-backed crypto startup called, not surprisingly, Presto, which aims “to make crypto feel like magic.” But Davidson still performs magic at private events two to three times a year.

“Zach is easily the most adult one of us!” Pascali says.

“That’s not true!” Davidson protests, laughing.

“There are so many different paths of making magic in life,” McKee adds. “I’d argue that it’s not my profession, it’s my lifestyle. Everything revolves around magic.”

Franco Pascali performs cardistry, a kinetic, visually dynamic art form he’s spent years mastering.

Magic has clearly been the binding force in these men’s lives, whether that’s meant hours spent perfecting tricks — McKee and Pascali say they still practice a minimum of five hours a day, 10 to 12 if there’s an upcoming show, whereas Davidson practices on a spot basis — time spent performing onstage or, simply, time spent engaging in magic as a social adhesive like tonight.

Close friends mean that much more to this group, they say, because to get to their skill level, they — most working magicians — spent hours upon hours, entire days, as kids sitting alone with a deck of cards, practicing tricks in front of a mirror with sweaty, calloused hands.

It’s paid off: These guys are purists, they say, meaning no gimmicks or devices to manipulate cards or two-sided coins to aid their tricks.

“We’re like, ‘Gimmick? We’ll do it for real!’” Pascali says.

“We spend countless hours doing something that could easily be accomplished with a gimmick,” McKee adds, “but it’s way more interesting for us to do it just with a solid deck of cards.”

As he talks, slipping playing cards between his fingers, McKee’s hands tremble slightly from having consumed so much caffeine. Coffee is the magician’s drink of choice, everyone agrees. “It keeps you awake and alert and on your game,” Davidson says.

Which is evident in tonight’s grand finale.

“Name a number between one and 52,” Pascali says, his face sparking with expectation. I choose 32.

He begins dealing cards, face down, on the table and asks me to say “stop” at any point. When I do, I’m given a card that he hasn’t seen. (Jack of diamonds, don’t tell.) I place the card back into the deck. A round of cutting and deck shuffling ensues.

As Pascali performs, McKee and Davidson are beaming and nodding their heads encouragingly. They continue to swirl, fan and flip cards in their hands while watching Pascali — it’s like an unconscious cardistry tick.

“The pursuit of wonder,” McKee mutters under his breath.

At the trick’s mind-boggling climax, Pascali has me pick up another, open but untouched box of playing cards elsewhere on the table. He asks me to remove the deck, face down, and turn the cards over, one by one, until we’ve reached the 32nd card. Which — poof! — is the jack of diamonds.

Column One

A showcase for compelling storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.

I fall back into my chair, speechless. The Times photographer is so baffled, he jokes that it’s time for him to depart.

All three magicians burst into ebullient, synchronistic laughter so fresh and boyish, it’s as if they’ve just seen the trick for the first time; there’s collective pride over its success.

“In this world, now, there’s not many things you can point to where it’s, ‘Wow, that really gives me a sense of awe,’” Davidson says. “Magic, for me, has always been the throughline. Even amidst all the chaos in the world, there’s still this one thing that provides a sense of wonder. I think that’s very human.”

And with that, the wonder boys start up again, and the cardistry will continue into the wee hours of the morning.

Thu, 13 Oct 2022 01:08:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-10-13/underground-magic-l-a-s-performing-magicians-hone-their-tricks-in-private-speakeasies
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