Disruptive Forces: IBM

By Chris Gonsalves Print this article Print


Location: Armonk, N.Y.

CEO: Sam Palmisano

Revenues: $98.8 billion

What they do: IBM is the maker of all things computer (except PCs, of course, as that product line is Lenovo’s problem now) and a business and technology services giant.

Disruptive qualities: IBM makes the list on reputation alone. The company has been America’s most prolific patent filer for 15 years running, with more than 3,100 logged last year. And its Innovation Jam event is becoming an annual ritual for IBMers with big ideas. Big Blue is also putting a lot of stock in Big Green, the company’s effort to make data centers more energy-efficient. Never one to shy away from eating its own cooking, IBM consolidated 3,900 of its servers into just 33 by using a combination of configuration changes and technologies such as virtualization. And IBM has become a leader in the service-oriented architecture space.

The tech that makes them tick: IBM is using its WebFountain, Business Insights Workbench and the analytics muscle of its huge Global Services unit to power its Impact of Future Technology (IoFT) offering. IoFT predicts disruptive technologies by developing several market alternatives, then “backcasting” to determine the most likely outcomes. With IoFT, businesses can prioritize, estimate costs and benefits, manage technology investments and look fairly far into the future without being limited to one future scenario, IBM says.

Who they are disrupting: With its green efforts, IBM is having an impact on power and utility companies and vendors dragging their feet into the eco-friendly market, and, with its prognostications, professional services from the Big Four.

Singing the Big Blues: Indian services players Tata and WinPro have hurt IBM in the global services arms race. And Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd recently made good on his promise to eclipse Big Blue and become the world’s largest technology company.

Return to the list of DISRUPTIVE COMPANIES

This article was originally published on 2008-03-27
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