There were more than a few fascinating things to come out of this article around the trials and tribulations of IBM.
Central to the article is the challenge that a great company like IBM faces as the landscape in which it operates changes before it’s very eyes. The rise of fast moving, ever changing, consumer champions – driven by technology – have resulted in enormous encroachment into the corporate spaces normally occupied by the technology behemoths of the past 30 years…
Google’s growing share of the corporate email market has shaken Microsoft – as has it’s increasingly impressive cloud based office solutions – and recently the US government’s Central Information Agency handed a $600m data center contract to Amazon.
The article states: “The sight of a government agency whose name is a byword for information security hiring a company that made its name on the consumer internet may well turn other customers’ heads, says Toni Sacconaghi, a computer industry analyst at Sanford C Bernstein. That “could call into question IBM’s role as the pre-eminent partner” for corporate IT departments, he adds.”
So how do big businesses react in the face of this sort of assault on their heartland? CEO Ginny Rommetty sums it up well when she says “At $100bn [in revenues], you constantly have to reinvent yourself.”
Reinvention – or to put it better and leave it less to chance, continuous invention – has to be top of mind for any business, big or small, as the world changes from one minute to the next. The ability to move quickly, to challenge convention, to spot trends and act is what will cement the exciting businesses of today as the status-quo of tomorrow.
Maintaining a spirit of creativity, of entrepreneurial-ism, or small-ism – a challenger mentality if you will – is key to the commercial success of all businesses. But businesses are increasingly realising that they do not need to do this in a vacuum, their customers are fast becoming the best innovations labs in the world.
Consumers today know what they want, often before businesses do. The adage of ‘make things people want, rather than make people want things’ is truer today than at any point. Listen to your customers, look for what’s important to them, what do they need. And then shape an experience around them, a people-shaped experience or product.
Only by behaving in this way can IBM or anyone expect to be taken seriously in 2014 and beyond.