IBM Can't Shrink Its Way To Greatness - InformationWeek

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1/21/2015
09:43 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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IBM Can't Shrink Its Way To Greatness

IBM saw revenue declines in every major business unit in 2014. Can the company do more than please investors with fatter margins?

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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1/21/2015 | 1:05:31 PM
IBM's growth in cloud revenues will offset some losses
Good assessment, Doug. IBM's obit has been written many times but unlike Word Perfect, Lotus Development and Sun Microsystems, it's always still around when the obit writers hang up their pens and go to their own just rewards. It has had to go through several rounds of re-inventing itself and is doing so once again. One renewal drive: Look for accelerated SoftLayer cloud revenue growth to gradually offset losses elsewhere.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
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1/21/2015 | 3:46:23 PM
This is no obit, but it is a prod.
IBM issued plenty of $Billion-plus commitments in 2014 -- Softlayer, Watson, next-gen chips, etc. -- but they were open-ended on time (meaning not all in 2014). I was surprised, yesterday, when IBM cited $6 billion in R&D in 2014 and only $4 billion in acquisitions and other investments. To put it in persctive, SAP, a much smaller company than IBM, acquired FieldGlass for an estimated $1 billion and Concur for a whopping $8.3 billion all in 2014.

I think IBM needs to take more aggressive action. One impulse would be to buy a fast-growing company like Workday, but that would piss off SAP and it growth would probably die. Are Netezza, Cognos, and SPSS better off under IBM than they were as independents? I'd say their pace of innovation and market aggressiveness have waned since acquisition. The politics, layers, and factions inside IBM sometimes stifle innovation.

It's hard to solve the IBM puzzle, but a bit of culture change, more partnerships, less emphasis on consulting-driving offerings, and more emphasis on finished solutions would help.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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1/21/2015 | 6:24:22 PM
Re: IBM's growth in cloud revenues will offset some losses
I hope IBM finds its way out of the woods.
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