IT & Network Infrastructure : IBM's 2011: Watson, Cloud Advances, Analytics, Security
IBM had another big year in 2011. One of Big Blue's most significant moves of 2011 will actually not happen until Jan. 1, 2012, when the company's first woman CEO, Virginia "Ginni Rometty, succeeds Samuel Palmisano as the leader of the vaunted tech systems, software and services giant. However, there were many other significant achievements. IBM started the year with a bang, as its Watson thinking computer obliterated human competitors in a series of "Jeopardy matches in February. Watson went on to make the rounds, trouncing human competitors at some of the nation's top universities, including Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. The analytics-driven Deep Question Answering technology (from IBM's DeepQA Project) in Watson is being applied to commercial uses such as health care as a physician's assistant technology and internally at IBM to assist IBM sales staff. On June 16, IBM celebrated its 100th anniversary with a huge invitation-only event at its Thomas J. Watson Research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. This year also saw IBM take a major focus on emerging markets, particularly Africa, by chasing core business on the continent and setting up new offices in several countries including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and others. Big Blue also established a major presence with famed IBM PC inventor Mark Dean as CTO of IBM Middle East and Africa. In other moves, IBM established a strong presence in the social-business software arena and launched an aggressive Smarter Commerce strategy. Big Blue also continued to build on its already significant efforts in cloud computing and business analytics with a series of acquisitions. Meanwhile, IBM proved the mainframe has more lives than a cat as the company continued to evolve the platform with a new midrange offering and features such as support for Microsoft Windows. Other big IBM news in 2011 included a massive investment from money master Warren Buffett, a new focus on security in IBM's software group and the growth of IBM's Systems and Technology Group (STG) at the expense of competitors such as Oracle and Hewlett-Packard.
The First Lady
Virginia Rometty becomes IBMs first woman CEO at the beginning of 2012. On Oct. 25, 2011, IBM announced that its board of directors had elected Virginia M. Ginni Rometty president and chief executive of the company, effective Jan. 1, 2012. She was also elected a member of the board of directors. Before being named CEO, Rometty served as senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy. She succeeds Samuel J. Palmisano, who currently is IBM chairman, president and chief executive. Palmisano will remain chairman of the board.