From mainframes to PCs, from software to operating systems, from open source to services-IBM has done it all.
It's rare to last 100
years in a business, but to last 100 years in the technology business is next
to impossible. Well, IBM will officially pull off the impossible in mid-June
when the company celebrates 100 years in business.
When the company was formed as
the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R) in 1911, its founders
probably never dreamed that it would last 100 years. Yet, when the company was
merely 13 years old, its leadership sought a
name that signaled a global presence, so C-T-R became International
Business Machines (IBM) in 1924.
And IBM has done more than
survive-it has thrived. As IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive for
Software and Systems Steve Mills told eWEEK, IBM is still standing while former
industry darlings-including Digital Equipment Corp., Wang, Prime and Data
managed this seemingly impossible feat by
adapting to the demands of the times and adopting new technologies and new
approaches to the marketplace. Even more important, IBM has focused on its
customers, Mills said.
"IBM's great achievement from my
perspective is that it has been able to morph and change based on understanding
its customers and partnering with those customers," said Judith Hurwitz, CEO of
Hurwitz & Associates, who has watched IBM for decades. "When IBM had its
near death experience, that was the period of time when it lost touch with
To ensure that it never again
takes its eye off its customers, IBM has made them an integral part of its
strategies, including its 2015 road map. That plan for the future includes four
primary areas: growth markets, analytics, next-generation data centers and the
cloud, and the IBM Smarter Planet strategy.
Sharon Nunes, vice president of
Smarter Cities Strategy & Solutions,at IBM, said the Smarter Planet
initiatives-particularly the Smarter Cities-draw buy-in because the results
impact people where they live and work.
That's certainly true of Roy
Buol, mayor of Dubuque, Iowa, who told eWEEK: "In 2009, we chose IBM as our
partner to develop the tools our residents need to make better decisions about
how they use resources like water, electricity and natural gas. The goal of -Smarter Sustainable Dubuque' is to create
policies and programs that address environmental and ecological integrity,
economic prosperity, and social and cultural vibrancy to create a community
that is viable, livable and equitable. "The individual building blocks of this
strategy relate to energy, water, mobility, air, resources, nature, green
economy, eco-literacy, food and shelter."
IBM addressed these building
blocks in September 2009, when the company and Dubuque announced a new
collaboration aimed at making the city of 60,000 one of the first "smarter"
sustainable cities in the United States.
The partnership is already paying
off. Buol said the IBM analytics and cloud computing technology his city
deployed in 2010 helped reduce water utilization by 6.6 percent and increased
leak detection and response eightfold.
IBM's formidable push into
business analytics seems prescient given the recent performance of the Watson
system on Jeopardy!
IBM is currently looking for additional applications
for the system's DeepQA technology, and health care seems to be the next
logical step. Dr. Eliot Siegel, professor and vice chairman of the University
of Maryland School of Medicine's diagnostic radiology department, said he hopes
to see Watson-powered physician's assistants in the near future.