IBM is gearing up to celebrate its centenary on 16 June, and has revealed the strategy it will follow to remain competitive in the years to come, as well as a shorter term five-year roadmap.
IBM was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating and Recording Company, specialising in punch cards, commercial scales and clocks. The company had global ambitions, and renamed itself International Business Machines in 1924.
The organisation now operates in 170 countries, and key business milestones include the early mainframe System/360, the launch of the floppy disk, the release of the personal computer and a $1bn investment in Linux open source software.
IBM has changed the focus of its investments over the years from hardware to software and services, the latter making up 57 per cent of its current revenue. IBM said that this focused investment will continue alongside its long-standing commitment to technology research and development.
Stephen Leonard, the firm's UK chief executive, said at a press event to mark the countdown to its 100th birthday that IBM is ready to make acquisitions in the right spaces, and revealed the 2015 growth plan which is built on four areas: analytics, the Smarter Planet initiative, cloud computing and growth markets.
Leonard paid particular attention to IBM's investment in cloud software, which he said has seen greater sales in the first quarter of this year than in the whole of 2010.
"IBM has been developing products in the cloud for 10 years. It's not rocket science but it is computer science and no one knows more about that than IBM," he said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Spencer, head of IBM Global Process Services, explained that growing the company's analytics offering is designed to meet a need for companies to get closer to customers.
"It's not about just running a cheap call centre for customers anymore," he said. "The voice conversations and the analytics are what clients are talking about."
Leonard claimed that IBM's success so far is down to its ability to adapt to technology and global change while retaining the essence of its organisation.
"It's unique to be 100 years old. No one else in the industry is anywhere near to being this old and that says something about the industry itself," he said, before outlining the four strategies that IBM will follow to get ahead in the marketplace.
Five years ago, IBM moved from organising its business around a "multinational model" to a "globally integrated enterprise" to allow staff to share expertise globally from one core competency centre, rather than having to hire staff with the same expertise in each of the 170 countries in which the firm operates.
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