One simple way to access the impact of any organization is to answer the question: how is the world different because it existed?
This is the opening line in the new book about IBM to mark its 100th anniversary. I’ve just received a copy of the book and have read the foreword by Sam Palmisano. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book and will post a review of it on my blog when I’m finished. The answer by the way:
The stories in this volume provide a fascinating set of answers, and an even more intriguing set of yet-to-be-answered questions.
I celebrate my 22nd anniversary working for IBM this summer. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed my job and the various challenges I’ve been trusted to own. The best part about working for IBM is the people. One of the things that Sam mentions in his foreword is that it has been sometimes intimidating to work with such intelligent people. I love working with the smart people who I’ve met who work at IBM, are partners with IBM, customers of IBM, and best of all, IBM Champions or Gold Consultants. I don’t always feel at par with these people, but luckily for me, I’ve still felt completely accepted.
This week as we celebrate IBM’s centennial, IBM world-wide has many planned events. Here in Toronto we have a celebration planned for Thursday that include a BBQ lunch for employees & retirees, presentations by special guests, Centennial videos, and an IBM artifacts exhibit. I’ve volunteer to help decorate the building for the event and am looking forward to celebrating with my co-workers.
IBM has also encouraged every single employee in the world (more than 400,000 people) to donate 8 hours to some charitable event. I haven’t signed up for an event yet, but some of the options include tree planting, judging science projects, and acting as a leader at a children’s technology day camp. I love that we’re doing this. As I mentioned above, I find that IBMers are quite intelligent and I like that we are able to give back to the world to help make it work better!
A few months ago I blogged about IBM’s centennial and provided links to the very creative videos that were created to celebrate. I strongly encourage you to check out these videos. This blog entry also mentions IBM Watson, the super computer that competed on Jeopardy in February. What a happy coincidence it has been to have IBM Watson gain so much attention in 2011… the year IBM turns 100. This just shows you that “we’re not dead yet”.
During all the media events surrounding IBM Watson, there was a video made on TED.com (Technology, Entertainment, Design) that I strongly recommend that you watch:
The impact of a machine like Watson will be felt throughout business, government and society. Join the conversation to find out how the IBM team achieved this historic feat and chat live with IBM Watson Principal Investigator Dr. David Ferrucci, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM’s SOA Center for Excellence; Kerrie Holley and Columbia University Professor of Clinical Medicine; Dr. Herbert Chase, hosted by "Final Jeopardy, Man vs Machine and the Quest to Know Everything" author Stephen Baker.
I rarely watched TED videos before this one, but now I’ve been enjoying the many videos that are available on many topics. Today the featured videos was
Not only is IBM Watson mentioned but so are many really amazing technology advances in the field of medicine. The world has so much promise with so many smart people trying to make it work better!
Here are the details of the book, that is available for purchase at Amazon and other bookstores:
by Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm, Jeff O’Brien; foreword by Sam Palmisano
Thomas J Watson Sr’s motto for IBM was THINK, and for more than a century, that one little word worked overtime. In Making the World Work Better: The Ideas That Shaped a Century and a Company, journalists Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm, and Jeffrey M. O’Brien mark the Centennial of IBM’s founding by examining how IBM has distinctly contributed to the evolution of technology and the modern corporation over the past 100 years.
The authors offer a fresh analysis through interviews of many key figures, chronicling the Nobel Prize-winning work of the company’s research laboratories and uncovering rich archival material, including hundreds of vintage photographs and drawings. The book recounts the company’s missteps, as well as its successes. It captures moments of high drama – from the bet-the-business gamble on the legendary System/360 in the 1960s to the turnaround from the company’s near-death experience in the early 1990s.
The authors have shaped a narrative of discoveries, struggles, individual insights and lasting impact on technology, business and society. Taken together, their essays reveal a distinctive mindset and organizational culture, animated by a deeply held commitment to the hard work of progress. IBM engineers and scientists invented many of the building blocks of modern information technology, including the memory chip, the disk drive, the scanning tunneling microscope (essential to nanotechnology) and even new fields of mathematics. IBM brought the punch-card tabulator, the mainframe and the personal computer into the mainstream of business and modern life. IBM was the first large American company to pay all employees salaries rather than hourly wages, an early champion of hiring women and minorities and a pioneer of new approaches to doing business--with its model of the globally integrated enterprise. And it has had a lasting impact on the course of society from enabling the US Social Security System, to the space program, to airline reservations, modern banking and retail, to many of the ways our world today works.
The lessons for all businesses – indeed, all institutions – are powerful: To survive and succeed over a long period, you have to anticipate change and to be willing and able to continually transform. But while change happens, progress is deliberate. IBM – deliberately led by a pioneering culture and grounded in a set of core ideas – came into being, grew, thrived, nearly died, transformed itself… and is now charting a new path forward for its second century toward a perhaps surprising future on a planetary scale.
Article: IBM Patent: 100 Years of High-Tech Innovations
I know several patent holders and Master Inventors who work at IBM: Sam Lightstone, Mike Winer, Cathy McArthur, Joanna Ng, Arthur Ryman, Andrew Trossman, Mark Wilding, Danny Zilio, and Calisto Zuzarte.
I read an interesting article on eweek.com about IBM’s patents: IBM Patent: 100 Years of High-Tech Innovations. They listed 10 important patents and I was surprised by some of what they picked, including Ultraviolet Surgery! From the Centennial films we learned that IBM invented the punch card, UPC codes, airline reservation systems, and much more.
IBM has been earning many patents every year, but recently has surpassed 5000 patents in a single year! IBM inventors received a record 5,896 U.S. patents in 2010—which marked the 18th consecutive year the company topped the list of the world’s most inventive companies.
Even if you’ve watched the two Centennial films already, I encourage you watch them a second or third time. The films are well done, educational and very inspirational. See my blog for links to the films: Some Important / Cool IBM Events in 2011. Fmore details about the 100 most influential innovations and why they made the list, see: http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/icons/
Happy Centennial IBM!