IBM Reaping the Benefits of Exceptional Foresight

January 21 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

With the steadily worsening economic climate taking a toll on most large technology companies, IBM is a rare exception to the rule.  Just yesterday the industry stalwart announced an impressive (especially under the circumstances) 12% rise in net Q4 profits, the bulk of which can be attributed to CEO Sam Palmisano's strategic transition to cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS), both of which were initiated years before these sectors grew hot.

The New York Times attributes this to IBM's "global reach and its mix of businesses", reporting that "about 40 percent of its revenue and 60 percent of its profit come from products and services sold on a subscription basis as licenses or contracts that are renewed every year or so."  This means that IBM can charge higher prices for its work while former head-to-head competitors like Intel, Sun and Seagate are caught up in hardware price wars that drive down prices - no surprise as chips and components are commoditized. 

But IBM is not just looking at a strong 2009.  Its plays in global quantification (the truly smart Smart Planet initiative), virtual brains (SyNAPSE and Blue Brain), genetic quantification (the Genographic Project), real-time business & events quantification, real-time server virtualization, command center applications and massive meetings run through virtual worlds (here's the SL teleport link, very cool stuff), the evolving 3d web, outsourcing of human resources, the open-sourcing of the patent system, etc, have me convinced that this company is a cut above the rest in the foresight department. 

This belief is further reinforced by IBM's intelligent use of web communications (blogs & easy to follow videos, an expertise that Google shares), its vision of planetary technology and information development (see the video below)...


...and its smarter-than-most 5-year predictions (see below):

To me, this indicates that IBM is poised to expand its software and service offerings into some of the most explosive near-future growth areas.  The company has positioned itself atop many large and quickly rising diffusion bubbles and seem to understand the interplay between accelerating information, technology, intelligence and communication that many companies seem to be uncognizant of.

Out of all the companies in the Fortune 500, IBM is clearly demonstrating that it's among the most foresighted.

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. And of course IBM announced layoffs today, which means that even they aren’t all that optimistic about the overall economy.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   January 22, 2009
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  2. Alvis:

    In spite of the lay-offs, I agree with your assessment. (P.S. On a different note, were you ever contacted by someone representing the National Pork Board? Give me a call to discuss … 612-267-1212.)

    Posted by: juldrich   January 23, 2009
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