Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

IBM Industry Summit: Setting The Stage For A Drastically Different World

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At the IBM Industry Summit this week here in Barcelona, executives from companies around the globe representing industries across the spectrum will be in attendance.

One of the key themes those executives can expect to hear discussed at the Summit is the challenge of responding to increasing complexity.

Hearkening back to the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study, which I provided a summary of in this blog earlier in the year, 79 percent of executives surveyed believed that they expected the high level of complexity only to increase, and yet only 49 percent of those polled felt they were prepared for that complexity.

The combined insight from 1,541 interviews conducted with C-level executives around the globe in the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study: Be creative, reinvent customer relationships, and embrace complexity by building dexterity.

Call that “The Complexity Gap.”

Mastering The Complexity Gap

Edward Lonergan, president and CEO of Diversey, Inc., responded in the published results that “The complexity our organization will have to master over the next five years is off the charts; a 100 on your scale from 1 to 5.”

So how to even start an attempt to master such massive complexity?

That led to the second of several key findings in the study.

CEOs asserted that creativity is the most important leadership quality in our new and more complicated world.

Not a characteristic one typically hears as being highly valued in the boardroom, yet with all this acknowledged complexity, executives seemed to be saying traditional rules don’t apply, and creative leaders tend to encourage experimentation through their organization.

In the study results, they also indicated that creative leaders make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies, and take more calculated risks and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.

Collaboration Inside And Out

But that innovation can’t stop just short of the corporate firewall.

The third key finding was that CEOs around the globe believe that the most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and they also integrate those customers into core processes.

An astounding 95% of "standouts" surveyed in the IBM Global CEO study data revealed An astounding 95 percent said that “getting connected” with customers is their top priority.

You’ll be hearing more about this key meme from IBM in an announcement later today, but this idea is recognition of a simple concept: Customers know best.

The most successful organizations not only partner with their customers to create new products and improve services — they also adopt new channels to engage and stay in tune with them, and they glean more intelligence from the barrage of available data and make customer intimacy their number-one priority.

Simplify, Simplify

Henry David Thoreau spoke of simplification in his renowned Walden.

But he also wrote there that “it is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Truth is, when it comes to successful organizations, the CEO study data revealed that the better performers manage complexity on behalf of their organizations, customers, and partners.


Through simplification, for one.

They simplify operations and products, but they also increase their dexterity to change the way they work, access resources and enter markets around the world.

In fact, more dexterous leaders can expect to generate 20 percent more of their future revenues from new sources than other CEOs.

In this climate,

Adapt And Evolve

So, as the IBM Industry Summit prepares to get underway here in Barcelona, leaders around the globe may want to review the findings of this important study in more detail (you can get more information on the CEO Study here.)

It provides some excellent food for thought in helping shape your thinking about how you might start to manage your organization’s own complexity, whatever its nature, and it will no doubt set the stage for what should prove to be an informative and insightful week here in Spain.

For those of you following from afar, I look forward to sharing more from the IBM Industry Summit here in this blog throughout the week.

Written by turbotodd

November 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

One Response

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  1. Todd, great that you are covering this event. I’m sharing this with the Northeast region marketing and sales teams through my weekly marketing updates, where I’ve provided a link to your blog as well as your page on developerWorks (so they know your roots).

    Donna G

    November 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm

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