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Global CIO: An Open Letter To IBM CEO Sam Palmisano

We ask IBM's chairman and CEO about analytics, competition, mobility, and how the pursuit of a Smarter Planet will extend the transformation of the world's most-influential IT company.
Global CIO: HP Claims Software Supremacy And Tells IBM: Migrate THIS!. Is this solely a matter of you being willing to give up market share in favor of smaller numbers of higher-value systems? Or is there something else at play here?

7) What's IBM's mobility strategy? No one's expecting you to come out with a new mobile device called the ibmPhone to challenge Apple, but what's IBM's strategy in the booming mobility market? Beyond the handheld devices, how is IBM capitalizing on the huge effort that's underway among businesses of every type to equip their workers with ubiquitous access to the mostly timely information and insight?

8) Lessons from developing countries. IBM's got a long history in what the rest of us call "emerging markets"—I think IBM Brazil's been around almost as long as IBM itself? What's happening in those high-growth areas that enriches your view of what IBM needs to do around the world? How are IBM's experiences and engagements in China and India and eastern Europe accelerating new ideas and new approaches within your company and, in so doing, changing the very nature of who IBM is and what it offers to the world?

9) The strategic role of workload-optimized systems. Your friend Larry Ellison says Oracle is totally committed to overtaking IBM in a business that IBM created half a century ago: high-performance and deeply integrated systems. And in the past year or so, dozens of IT companies have jumped into this dynamic new sector of the market. How will you weave your company's own optimized systems into IBM's broader strategy? Can optimized systems help fulfill your vision of creating a Smarter Planet? How much of an advantage does IBM's unmatched expertise in end-to-end integration—from the physics behind chip design to middleware to analytics—give your company in this new market sector that has grabbed the imaginations and dollars of customers?

10) IBM's position in cloud computing. We know you don't like the term—in an exclusive interview a year ago, you referred to cloud computing as "an unfortunate name"—but the phenomenon is very real. Here's what you said about it a year ago: "Cloud computing—what we're really talking about is 'highly virtualized infrastructure'—it's also just beginning, but it's an unfortunate name.

"There's tons of hype in the beginning and then the industry starts to ascertain what's real and what's not, and that's where we are now. It's starting to take off on the consumer side, which has been very visible, but we don't play there, we're an enterprise company—but even with all the talk and rhetoric about cloud starting to slow down, the real thing behind the name is starting to ramp, with everything from Lotus Live, to Desktop Cloud, to Test Cloud." Since you made those comments a year ago, the level of hype and talk and rhetoric has certainly continued, but as with the mobility question above, many people would like to understand more fully what your current view of cloud computing is, where it offers great opportunities for IBM, and how that fits into IBM's overall strategy.

Well, Sam, sorry for the long letter, but that's part of the price you have to bear as head of the #1 most influential tech company in the world. Thanks for your time, good luck in 2011, and we hope to hear from you on the issues above.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

Bob

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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