By Charles King, Pund-IT® May 3, 2022
The value of reputation is pretty much indisputable. As Warren Buffet noted with great clarity, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” That truism has been proven time and again when people and organizations falter or fail and lose the credibility, respect and accord of those who once honored them.
But since reputation is essentially granted or denied by others, what can an individual or organization do when their reputation no longer entirely fits or fully reflects what they have become? That is a point worth considering in the case of Kyndryl and how the company is steadily and effectively evolving its reputation and market position with the help of strategic business partners.
Why is this evolutionary process vital to Kyndryl? Two things, both having to do with the company’s spinoff from IBM. First, during that process Kyndryl was regularly referred to as IBM’s “managed infrastructure services business”, a point that has been parroted by reporters, analysts and other industry commentators. That may be factually correct but also implies that “managed infrastructure services” is the company’s only area of expertise.
The second issue has to do with the general nature of sales or spinoffs of business units (BUs) which tend to occur when a parent company decides a BU is no longer performing as hoped or expected, or that a particular market is not as promising as once assumed.
To that point, IBM has a well-documented history of such actions, including the sales of its PC and x86 server organizations (to Lenovo), hard disk drive BU (to Hitachi) and business printer business (to Ricoh). In those cases, IBM stated that its decisions were driven by a desire to avoid “commodity” products and markets where volume sales outrank the company’s focus on technological innovations, value-added services and profit margins.
Other similar actions—HP’s decision to divide itself into two companies is a good example—have followed similar reasoning. As a result, it is hardly surprising that sold or spun-off BUs are often seen as second-class assets whether or not such perceptions have any basis in fact. In fact, conventional wisdom suggested Lenovo would have trouble digesting or maximally benefitting from both IBM’s PC and server groups. Today, the company is #1 in global PC sales and its server business is growing faster than competitors.
What does this mean for Kyndryl? First, that it is crucial for the company to show global customers, markets and industries that while it retains its well-established expertise in enterprise managed services, it is also developing new and complementary skills and service offerings. Just as importantly, Kyndryl needs to demonstrate that its business and go-to-market strategies are both well-suited to and valuable for evolving customer and technological requirements.
How can it best accomplish these goals? Clearly, by highlighting new solutions and customer wins. But just as importantly, by entering into new strategic relationships as well as evolving its collaborations with longtime partners.
Kyndryl’s latest strategic partnerships
To consider how the company is working with partners to alter its public reputation and persona, let’s look at four recent announcements.
- On March 15, Kyndryl and Cloudera announced a global partnership to assist customers with mission-critical hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and edge computing initiatives. The companies plan to develop integrated solutions and delivery capabilities designed to accelerate moving and migration to public cloud platforms and environments, including AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. The pair will focus first on efforts with the Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) where they will partner to help customers overcome barriers and speed time-to-market. In addition, Kyndryl will use its deep skills in data center modernization and platform management via managed services to enhance reliability and customer satisfaction. Over time, the companies plan to deliver large scale IT transformation capabilities across multiple industries and geographies, and to leverage Kyndryl’s data frameworks, toolkits and global team of data management and AI experts alongside Cloudera’s data, analytics and AI capabilities.
- On March 23, Kyndryl and Lenovo announced an expansion of their existing global partnership to develop/deliver scalable hybrid cloud solutions and edge computing implementations. The companies will create joint solutions that employ automation, optimization and differentiated IT infrastructure services to help customers meet mission-critical, on-premises and cloud-based distributed application service needs. As 75% of data moves to the edge of company networks, Kyndryl and Lenovo plan to meet customers’ goals to address changing business needs and requirements with innovative technologies and services. Kyndryl’s managed services expertise will support deployment of these joint solutions. The companies also aim to develop integrated edge-to-cloud offerings based on Lenovo’s diverse portfolio of edge computing, mobile, PCs and data center solutions enhanced with Kyndryl’s customizable services for deployment, migration and optimization.
- On April 14, Kyndryl announced an expansion of its global alliance with Dell Technologies, focused on helping customers use data optimization, infrastructure management services, and a cyber resilience solution to protect their critical business assets. Specifically, Kyndryl and Dell will provide Cyber Incident Recovery to accelerate cyber resilience for customers using Dell’s high-performance storage, servers and data protection systems. This solution is designed to help secure critical data sets and provide a verified process to recover data after incidents occur via Dell’s “air-gapped” data vaults that store one copy of the data offline so it cannot be accessed. Dell recently elevated Kyndryl to Titanium Black Global Partner status which recognizes the company’s most strategic partners—those best equipped for today’s data-centric, multi-cloud world and best able to support customers’ digital transformation efforts.
- On April 21, Kyndryl announced an expanded strategic partnership with SAP focused on developing new solutions to help customers solve complex digital business transformation challenges. The expanded partnership will leverage SAP’s Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and Kyndryl’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), data and cyber resiliency services to accelerate and enable a cost-effective path to the cloud for customers. Under the extended collaboration, Kyndryl will offer services that complement the RISE with SAPsolution, including proven migration tools and scalable offerings, AI-driven business data management and analytics solutions, application modernization and more. Kyndryl and SAP also will collaborate on: ERP-focused modernization and cloud adoption services for the full SAP software environment; Data and AI services for SAP BTP to help companies modernize the use of their SAP software, from the SAP Business Warehouse application to the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud via cloud-based analytics for customers in manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, telecommunications and finance; and cyber resiliency services to help SAP customers quickly recover in the event of cyberattacks by enabling the rapid, simplified and reliable recovery of SAP software environments.
What do these new and expanded partnerships say about Kyndryl’s ongoing evolution? The four announcements underscore the company’s dedication to innovation or independence, or both. Cloudera’s leadership position in hybrid cloud and data management solutions should aid a significant number of projects for which Kyndryl is enlisted. The partnership with Lenovo can be viewed in a similar vein, with an added emphasis on wide-ranging edge-to-data center projects and industry standard hardware.
Working to develop and provide Cyber Incident Recovery solutions based on Dell’s air-gapped data vaults and other hardware components should resonate with any number of business customers, especially if cyber-attacks continue to ramp-up in number and sophistication. Finally, the expanded partnership with SAP finds Kyndryl working with a longstanding strategic partner to develop powerful new offerings to address new and emerging business-use cases and customer needs.
Overall, Cloudera, Lenovo, Dell and SAP, as well as the other strategic partnerships announced since its separation from IBM last November highlight how Kyndryl’s leadership is not wasting time in charting a new path for the company. While managed services remain a part of Kyndryl’s DNA, it is also exploring and expanding capabilities in new and commercially valuable markets. Given the company’s deep expertise and past successes, and those of its partners, Kyndryl’s future appears both sustainable and bright.
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