IBM - Why being a Solutions firm won't be a complete solution ?

Today’s Brew is for IBM Inc.
Brew date: 13th August
Type: Served Hot, to be Consumed a.s.a.p.

Why IBM seems to be on uncertain path and reclaiming back the ‘Think’ factor. Though IBM made us believe that Elephants can certainly dance (and its true as well), this brew hopes to be more of a dance therapy for the giant to channelize and harness efforts spread & energy spend, as The Brew understands the huge promise and potential that lay undermined in its business model and competence.

IBM, an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware and software, and as well offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology

The Brew features IBM not only because it believes that the giant needs an introspection and ideology correction but as well to highlight the realization of many missed opportunities which could have certainly made IBM, the most valuable company to exist, possibly not just by performance metrics, but by its Contribution and Impact to the Ecosystem and World.

Currently, IBM defines itself as an Enterprise Solutions Company, which certainly is commendable given that IBM, for a large part off lately was a Computer Services company offering hardware, software and consulting services. By choosing to be an Enterprise Solutions firm, it has made an attempt to refocus on being an enabler for the businesses more through extending its Consulting arm, however its trajectory on the larger arena of technology (it has always been a Technology Company) is uncertain and concerning in the times where Technology has been a front-runner in impacting the world.

Technically, IBM has always been an Enterprise Solutions Company, though it was solving the problems with its product based offerings, with a larger perspective of driving technology forward. Helped with some introspection, IBM’s success has always been it’s Invention + Innovation Driven philosophy which drove technology ahead, giving it an opportunity to solve problems of the Enterprises which then forms a part of IBM’s sustainable businesses till IBM either innovates or disrupts Technology further.

Along the while, Technology was always a part of Enablement Solution, which was used by the firms, and when culminated with Information and Processes led to Fulfillment solutions. Until digital revolution, Technology and Information were different dimensions for the businesses. Infact, Firms providing fulfillment solutions had perfected the Processes, leveraged with the Technology provided by Tech Companies and Information provided by Consumers would ultimately lead to need fulfillment. However with the Democratization of Technology aided by Digital revolution, Information and Tech have impregnated at different levels, and Firms are now vying for these input to improvise on fulfillment solutions.

By consciously defining itself as an Enterprise Solutions Firm, IBM will have to shift its focus from being a technology driver to fulfill the customized needs of the enterprises, enabling them with technology solutions. The dichotomy of undermining itself becomes apparent, along with underutilizing its Competences of Scale, Spread, Innovation and Invention. Along with it, IBM will also have to forego an opportunity to build the Ecosystem of Information which can ultimately be an exponential game changer disrupting not the industry, ecosystem but the directly impacting existence of mankind.

Paradoxically, only when IBM plays a driver role in enabling technology needs and fulfilling information needs, can it be a complete solutions firm. Without its pillars of Industry Invention – Ecosystem Innovation – Information Research, it wont be able to sustain being a Solutions firm, it will rather have to take a lead in driving the Ecosystem for Information along with Enabling Technology forward, something which it has not done for a quite a long while now.

To understand the business model of IBM, check out the following links:

The Brew will analyze IBM on the following parameters:
a) Business Analysis

1)    Technology, Innovation, Discontinuity, Invention, Information: The heart of IBM’s success is its focus on driving the technology ahead, enabled either by Invention or by Innovation. This has been amplified by the way technology behaves, the Inventions have a long tail of cascades, while the innovations have a shorter path, but cos IBM complemented Inventions with Innovations, it effected to strong advantageous combination of an elaborated tail of evolving incremental usability & acceptability.

The key to this is having Industry Level Invention, which will disrupt the service providers and/or developing Information Ecosystem and driving Innovations, which will disrupt the Consumer storyline.  Quite a times, IBM followed the same flow and was successful as well Cos the design of transfer of technology has till now been governed by power law, with Technology trickling from tech companies to industries and then finally to consumers.

Being said that, as technology witnesses advance democratization, it becomes apparent for IBM to be on the forefronts of developing Ecosystem of Information and/ or enabled by Technology (Invention and/or Innovation), but along the while having a Discontinuity to its efforts. Though IBM does pride itself in continuously re-inventing and evolving its business model, the journey transitions can be smoothened out, with a discontinuity approach along the while, helping with direction and further democratization of technology.

2)    Design of Technology: The design of the flow of technology does reflect the power law relationship with its limited and controlled trickle from tech firms to industry and then followed to Consumer. This equation gets reversed on the parameters of usability, design and utility, being highest for the consumer.
But all throughout Technology has been playing an Enablement role, precisely, either enhancing the efficiency or effectiveness of the existing solutions.

With the democratization of Technology happening, the flow has been disrupted and so is the power law relationship that existed. Along with it, Technology has switched roles from being an enabler to a complete fulfillment solution.

Here is where it works an opportunity to IBM, having an enablement solution for Ecosystem complemented with Enablement solution for the Industry, disrupting the entire value through either information (from the ecosystem innovation) or /and technology, IBM can effectively drive a complete fulfillment solution.

3)    Competence of Scale, Spread, & Convergence of (Invention + Innovation + Information):
IBM’s competence has always been its basic model of (Invention + Innovation + Information), leveraged by Convergence, Scale and Spread from business offerings to consumer solutions. The Brew urges IBM to retain its core – competence along with its driving forces, which can be suitably developed as Ecosystem offerings / solutions.

4)    Ecosystem Driver & Solutions Player:
Though explained earlier in detail, The Brew urges IBM to understand the inter – dependence and inter relevance of Ecosystem role and Solutions approach. Both go hand in hand, creating a winning circle, however the advantage is created and sustained by playing a driver role in Ecosystem enablement, either through technology and/ or information.

5)    Purpose of Existence:
Having a purpose of existence seems a dire need for IBM given that it has reinvented self in changing times, The Brew urges IBM to have a fulfillment purpose of existence, which helps in understanding IBM’s Contribution to Impact for the world, in terms of Progress rather than success and as well serving a direction with discontinuity to enable / fulfill the need value chain.

6)    Convergence and Discontinuity

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