IBM: The strength for change and changing for strength

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I love change. Changes with technology, changes with strategy, changes in competition, changes with clients, all of it. It excites me and I personally thrive in its constant challenges and opportunities. I’ve made a career of it.

I’ve seen a lot of it. The introduction of the PC. The rise of the Internet. The globalization of workforces. Mobility. Big Data.

And so has IBM. Over 100 years of change. The firm, like me, also thrives with change, constantly reinventing itself, excelling with what’s new, often driving the change ourselves. We like change and we’re good at it. “Big Blue” should be called “Big Change.”

Today is no different. The rapid adoption of the Cloud is changing everything, and it’s at the forefront of our firm’s collective mind. Cloud and Flash are completely reinventing how companies attack their storage challenges. So is storage software. The amount of data being stored is something we could barely dream about a decade ago. The new speeds, the new deployment models, the new hardware, the new economics are all thrilling to observe and empower.

We’ve made real, substantive investments in Flash and software defined storage.  We’ve been vocal about it, dedicating our selves to these strategies and solutions day after day, week after week.  We’re making it happen!

I’m really psyched about our new capabilities with our Cleversafe acquisition.  Cleversafe is object storage for massive unstructured data sets (think video, audio, images), ranging into the hundreds of petabytes, with the capability of getting into zetabyte capacity. The company brings 350 patents and has 500 more filed.  The team is incredible. Cleversafe can offer significant cost savings over leading competitors, and clients are taking note. Object storage is on the agenda of every CIO in the Fortune 500. Cleversafe is truly disruptive and revolutionary.

The Cleversafe acquisition gives us one of the most complete and most competitive storage portfolio in the industry.  We can do/deliver anything in this space, be it via Cloud, on premises, or especially hybrid.  Hybrid is where we can crush it.

I don’t believe all players are as good at change as we are. They see the change and know they have to do something, so they begin rearranging their organizations internally, or make puzzling acquisitions, or reprint their business cards and take other actions that make no sense to clients. They miss what is at the heart of the change, and that’s the business value to customers, not brands or organizational charts.

I believe IBM masters change for several reasons:

  • We make real, large-scale investments in the future.  Then we craft strategies and solutions around these investments and follow through
  • We have the strength and history of being a large, powerful and resilient organization
  • We have gone through so much of it that we have all of the plans, resources and disciplines to manage it expertly
  • We’re obsessively client-focused. We listen to our clients first for signals of change, not to media pundits whose main goal is to draw attention to themselves
  • We have an innovation culture. Our investment in invention is unparalleled in the industry.

There can be no skepticism about this. There’s simply too much history, and that history is with people who have been with the firm for decades and still steer the ship today.

We also employ certain fundamentals of smartly embracing and creating change:

  • Strategic risk taking and the ability to be resilient and absorb mistakes
  • An ability to invest in everything that is relevant to our offering
  • Exceptional discipline in execution
  • A framework for evaluating value, and quickly being able to pounce on what’s working and to divest what’s not
  • A keen client observation/listening capability that we are obsessive about
  • The ability and capital to acquire businesses that we can’t replicate internally, such as Cleversafe
  • Confidence in our leadership, our culture and our staff.

I could go on.  At the core, change isn’t something that surprises us or is something that we react to. It’s something we plan for and execute against. It’s our constant state of nature and we thrive in it. It’s because we have strength that we are able to change expertly.  And it’s because of our embrace of change that we continue to be strong, innovation after innovation, decade after decade.

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