Live At Impact 2011: Jon Iwata On 100 Years Of Innovation At IBM
At this morning’s opening general session of Impact 2011 here at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Jon Iwata, IBM Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, put IBM’s 100 years of transformation and innovation into context.
Mr. Iwata started his talk with a video demonstrating IBM’s 100 years of transformation in 100 seconds, a video MTV would have trouble matching in terms of the jump cuts. But just watching the video segue from black and white to full color, one could sense the rich history of IBM’s contributions to innovation in industry over the span of a full century.
He used a few examples to demonstrate IBM’s commitment to making new markets, sometimes at the risk of cannibalizing existing ones: Changing from the 40 to 80 column punchcard. Being inspired by a recorded Bing Crosby radio show to investigate magnetic storage media for computing storage. Building a new computer system, the System/360, which was a bet-the-company business that took years to grow in volume, but which was truly transformative, both for IBM and for its customers.
These changes weren’t always easy. Iwata quoted one customer frustrated by the punchard to tape change: “Not only can I see my data in a punchcard…I can feel my data.” (Big laugh from the audience.) At first, customers didn’t quite know what to do with the System/360, but partnering with IBM, they figured it out over time, and another market was made.
To celebrate some of these milestones, Iwata explained, IBM has created 100 iconic programs of progress (including a new one introduced today for WebSphere) that mark 100 IBM Centennial milestones. A few examples: RISC, PCs, Fractals, the Bar Code…you get the idea.
Flash forward to 2008: Despite the sudden changes in the economic climate, people at IBM were coming to a realization: Technology was moving out of the data center, the PC, through the mobile devices, and out into the physical systems of the world: Cities, pipelines, roads…we were putting computing into things never recognized before as a computer.
These new capabilities brought about “bigger” and more complex data, requiring more analytical capabilities and technologies to understand the larger trends occurring in these vast new data.
Thus was born the “smarter planet” initiative.
But there was more to the story that just saying it was so. To help IBM customers take the most advantage of these new approaches to computing, we had to help them learn how to do so in the construct of their industries, we had to learn how to build up “agency,” to show our customers the way — learning by doing, the same way we humans learn most effectively.
Iwata then demonstrated what’s past was prologue, flashing pictures (straight from the IBM archives) of IBM offices opened around the globe the past 100 years, with IBMers sitting in classrooms: attentive, learning, preparing to share their knowledge with customers, just as we’re working to do with our customers’ smarter planet initiatives.
Three years on, Iwata explained, we’re proving we can change how the world works, and we’re doing it industry by industry.
New examples: Netherland Railway captured $57M in new fares with a smarter transportation solution. Madrid’s Emergency Response system is 25% faster, as its smart communications system better synchronizes fire, traffic, and police with a business process management system. Even a case study on how Italian fishermen are making markets for their fish via mobile devices while their boats are still out to sea.
That’s why you’re here, Iwata concluded.
Here among your peers and role models and other leaders to learn from one another, at Impact 2011.