IBM is celebrating its centennial this month — which has prompted many to ask how a company can survive in the volatile information technology industry. Probably the best answer comes from Steve Lohr’s piece in the New York Times (I.B.M. at 100 – Lessons in Tech Longevity):
One central message, according to industry experts, is this: Don’t walk away from your past. Build on it. The crucial building blocks, they say, are skills, technology and marketing assets that can be transferred or modified to pursue new opportunities. Those are a company’s core assets, they say, far more so than any particular product or service.
In I.B.M.’s case, the prime assets included strong, long-term customer relationships, deep scientific and research capabilities and an unmatched breadth of technical skills in hardware, software and services.
In other words, it’s all about the company’s intangible assets. But of course, you already knew that.
IBM’s strategy also reviles another hallmark of the changing economy structure of the I-Cube Economy: the fusion of manufacturing and services. More on that tomorrow.