At a time when American businesses feel vulnerable its time to reflect on some personal recollections about IBM over the years, some of which are being recounted fondly today, 100 years of IBM.
- A culture that is shared and if you don't join in as an employee you are ejected pretty early . Sounds tough but helps build a sense of common purpose. Remember stories I heard from IBMer's in India that in the 1960's ( early mainframes, India no-where the hi-tech giant of today) IBM-India insisted that if employees arrived 30 minutes late on three days- they were out.
- As students we had a huge IBM 1130 where we had to turn in our punch cards of Fortran programs overnight. The results would be waiting the next morning causing many a sleepless, anxious wait. This was in a rural location and the computer had come in with rather poor roads, no direct rail. Getting the mainframes into Universities so early did contribute to the IT powerhouse status that India has today.
- Global organization culture studies owes a great deal to IBM for engaging Geert Hofstede to figure out why multinational company branches understand the same message differently. Hofstede published his book "Culture's consequences" that continues to be the most major piece of research in the field. Geert Hoftede advised me to work from existing data on my PhD based on how well the IBM data had worked for him.
- One was rather disappointed when IBM sold it's personal computer and laptop business but when you see laptops selling for $300-$400 today, you know why.
- IBM retained its mainframe business in new forms,went on investing in research, got into software and services in a big way. Check out the IBM essay on 100 years- a masterpiece on why businesses need to re-invent themselves for tomorrow while doing the business for today.
Above all , B2B marketers and Supply Chain folks need to appreciate how IBM has been able to keep the market mantra of "You can't get fired if you buy IBM" alive in every business and country they have been in over the last 100 years. Congratulations IBM !