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Palmisano Sees No Innovation Slowdown at Apple (Update 1)

"It's all in the data," he said. "There's a huge opportunity to transform how you run a company - you can take all that kind of data analysis, forecasting trends, supply chain optimization."

"This is bigger than ERP," he added. "Because it touches all elements of society, not just payroll, inventory supply chain - this is a massive opportunity, and we're only in the beginning of it."

There has also been chatter recently that Palmisano would be a good successor to Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) retiring CEO Steve Ballmer. At one point, Brian Householder, the COO of Hitachi Data Systems, who hosted the presentation, asked whether Palmisano would take the Microsoft hot seat.

His guest quickly shot down this possibility, replying with a smile that he "would never work for a public company again."

Speaking to TheStreet following Palmisano's presentation, Householder agreed that analytics is a booming market. "Analytics could be of anything," he said. "This is the whole 'Internet of things'."

HDS, he said, is even providing content and data management solutions to satellite imaging companies that monetize information from retailers' parking lots by measuring customer density and predict the health of the businesses.

Householder also cited the example of retailers using video surveillance for "more than just security", with footage analysed to measure customer buying patterns. "The sky's the limit - everything will be enabled by driving value from your information," he said.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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