IBM - International Business Machines - For over 100 years the name has come to symbolize many things. Big Blue - THE company that can get really big projects done. Too big blue. a symbol of "the giant bureaucracy," which almost failed in the 1990's. But over the past 20 years the company is rapidly renewing itself. The purpose is to be essential.
What is the essential "Business Machine" today? Andy Kessler (@andykessler author of "Eat People" Portfolio 2011) writes in the Wall Street Journal (https://ibm.biz/BdR9YL sorry subscription required.) about how the coming smartphone revolution will change every thing as we know it. Apple, Samsung and Google are mentioned many times. Where is IBM?
We speak of Mobility quite a bit this year. Ginny Rometty speaks of is consistently. Since the demise of the IBM PC, IBM has not played in the "consumer" space. Yet when the IBM Selectric typewriter was in it's hey day it was a business machine. As was the IBM PC. We just sold the "low-end" server division. In our public 10-K, the Systems and Technology division (that is the Machines part of International Business Machines) was down almost 19% year over year, with The Power Systems group down over 31%! So what to do about the Machine part of IBM?
In order to be essential, I believe that we need to rethink what a Business Machine is. In the WSJ article Mr. Kessler asks what will happen to profit flows at three billion devices. He conspicuously notes that they will flow to the best services that utilize smartphones. So, what do we do in each of our divisions, departments and groups (that is business partners too) in order to provide our customers with the best services?
Deliver a re-thought model of what a "business machine" is. A machine can be defined "an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work". Since we tend to think of things like a PC or a typewriter or some other hunk of iron, we do not think of software as machines per-se. This is where I think we as IBMers need to change. Rapid and aggressive development of machines that utilize the Mobile platform is what we should reform our mind set about. Software as a Service is a machine. Analytics is a machine, Cloud is a machine. Can these machines work on the mobile platform? Will they work in Africa where Google is deploying drones to provide Internet capability on US$35 Smartphone?
It is our job to ensure that our "International Business Machines" do. This will continue to make IBM essential.