On June 16, IBM officially turned 100 years old.
This is quite a remarkable feat by any standard and warrants recognition despite being a competitor.
They started corporate life in 1911 as a manufacturer of punch cards, commercial scales, and clocks. From there they invented the mainframe (1964), magnetic stripes (1969), floppy disks (1971), Lasik surgery (1980), and their most recent achievement Watson, the supercomputer that beat all the top Jeopardy champions. However the one innovation that makes me especially grateful and made my industry possible is the UPC barcode (1973).
This only tells part of the story, the one part of their story that inspires me is how they evolved from being a hard goods innovator and manufacturer to also being a software and services company. From the 50’s to the 70’s when hardware ruled the roost, software was typically given away. But in the 80’s and 90’s that started to change when it became evident that software such as Linux, XML, and Java became the means of allowing IBM to break down its internal silos and ensure portability of it’s hardware products into new markets.
Today, software represents $22.5 billion or roughly 22% of its total annual sales. But as they say in the Ginzu knife commercial but ‘that’s not all’. Over the last decade IBM embraced services with the notable acquisition of Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2002 and as a result services now form the foundation of all of IBM’s offerings be it software or hardware and is very much the centerpiece of their Smarter Planet initiative.
So why is this so important to me?
It serves up a valuable lesson that some things are truly timeless and one only need look at IBM to be reminded about what it takes to survive and be successful in technology – the most dynamic of all industry sectors.
Customers want solutions to their challenges and don’t care whether it takes the form of hardware and/or software (although increasingly today it’s more about software). And most of all customers want service from a partner that stands behind their work and can show them how to best use the solution for maximum gain.
Congrats IBM and on an amazing 100 years! Thanks in large part to your innovations we have Scanners On!
Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 1:04:55 PM