IBM’s Lessons for Indian IT Majors

Mark Dean, the Chief Technology Officer for IBM’s Middle East and Africa operations writes a piece that beautifully captures some succinct points that also serve as handy lessons that would augur well for the IT/ITES companies in India

Be Decisive when it comes to change: If you are at the vanguard of an emerging technology trend that seeks to displace your existing bread and butter business, you should seriously contemplate moving over to the new business; all the more so if your current revenue earning business is already a red ocean with lots of competition cutting into your profit margins.

IBM did this when they decided consciously to exit the PC business and sell of the entire division to Lenovo. Though this came for much criticism then, it gave IBM legroom to focus resources on newer areas.

Constant Transformation: IBM has been synonymous with change and it is characterized by its survival across multiple upheavals along its evolution. Be it the switch from Mainframe to PC business or the switch from being a systems integrator to taking on global IT services for customers or the exit from the PC business – IBM has been constantly reinventing itself.

Something that will be of immense interest to a lot of Indian IT majors like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Patni, Mindtree, Cognizant, etc., for whom the need to diversify their revenue sources, focus on non-linear growth, move up the value chain are all big ticket challenges they need to solve to reinvent themselves

Elevate the Game: IBM’s Smarter Planet is a strategy that it adopted 3 years back and all their efforts are towards solving the larger challenges of mankind on the planet. It motivates the employees given that whatever they do is directly impacting the quality of life on the planet.

This positioning itself elevates IBM to a different level compared to peers. It is as though they have invented a blue ocean out of nowhere.

Be on the lookout for the next big thing: IBM with its Smarter Planet drive has focused on a few technologies that it is putting its bet on. Big Data crunching, Machine to Machine (M2M) are a few that are being closely researched on by the technology behemoth. Again cloud computing, miniaturization, cognitive computing are all emerging areas that should be on the radar of Indian IT companies not just from the perspective of immediate customer needs, but also to help themselves drive to become the vanguard in these nascent spaces.

History is replete with examples where eventually such vanguard positions helped companies make the switch. A missed opportunity was the app ecosystem around smart devices. The wave of change came so suddenly that companies had missed the opportunity even before they could contemplate studying it further. iPhone appstore, Android marketplace or the Google Chrome webstore is teeming with startups or individuals who have populated these stores with apps.

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