IBM is no stranger to change

Johannesburg, 02 Dec 2021
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Ria Pinto, General Manager (act), IBM Southern Africa.
Ria Pinto, General Manager (act), IBM Southern Africa.

IBM is no stranger to change. Throughout our 110-year history, one can find examples of how IBM adapted, made some bold bets and continued to be an important player and not a spectator to progress and change.

Today, the world is again undergoing a technological revolution – perhaps the biggest since the advent of personal computers 40 years ago. This pandemic is a powerful force of disruption – and the most vital catalyst for global change that we’ve seen in over half a century. We’ve seen digital move from the periphery into the core of our world, fuelled by connectivity, decentralisation and software-powered agility. Organisations of all sizes are grappling with this change and looking for technology solutions that enable speed, flexibility, insight and innovation. COVID-19 has brought issues to light and now more than ever we’re all searching for long-lasting answers to these questions.

IBM is adapting to these needs in many different ways. IBM has taken decisive strategic actions to meet the unique needs of this moment, including our acquisition of Red Hat in 2019 and the recent spinoff of our managed infrastructure services business, now known as Kyndryl.

These are changes driven by a technology landscape where the dominant forces of hybrid cloud and AI drive digital transformation. And in the midst of this pandemic, the pace at which they are being adopted has changed rapidly, as transformation journeys that were supposed to take a few years are now being compacted into weeks or months. Our goal today as we reinvent and pursue progress is to break down today’s most common barriers to innovation: Closed systems, proprietary technologies, untrustworthy AI and insufficient security.

There is no shortage of information on our technological investments to achieve this. We know that choosing which technology platforms power your business is the most consequential decision you can make and we’ve made some significant changes to help drive your competitive advantage in the 21 century.

As we improve our ability to accelerate our clients’ digital transformation journeys, we are leaning more heavily into our ecosystem. We have reinvigorated our ecosystem to combine the strength of IBM with an expanded network of business partners. At the start of 2021, IBM announced a $1 billion investment in its partner ecosystem and prompted changes to how we engage with the market. In the past, IBM primarily went direct to market. But that is no longer the world we operate in. The fundamental challenge of digital transformation is that it's unique for every organisation. Applications are now differentiators, and the speed of digital in an organisation determines the speed of the organisation. Getting accurate insights and creating smart processes are as crucial as hiring the right talent and executing effective strategies.

Every company is thus on its own journey of digital discovery, putting together bespoke environments of different products and services. Success can only come from taking different pieces of technology, bringing them all together to create long-lasting value and solve their most pressing business problems. In such a world, a vendor selling directly will have limited impact. But a vendor that collaborates through partners can bring the best to the market.

That articulates IBM's strategy: Rather than focusing primarily on direct sales, we engage with partners and bring our strengths as a technology titan to the table. We are making it simpler to understand what we do and offer, backed by the skills and competencies that make us experts in our fields. By focusing on our partner ecosystem, we enable those solution providers at the channel's frontline to do what they do best: understand a customer's requirements and introduce the best blend of technologies, processes, change management and skills to realise digital's value.

Such a change in focus not only elevates our partners and accelerates their customers' digital investments, it also widens the scope for different companies. IBM's reputation is to serve large enterprises. With the combination of our innovation, business acumen and partner ecosystem, those enterprise-level choices become available to all sizes of customer companies.

The age of monolithic technology is over. It's been over for a number of years already. At IBM, we began to adapt to this new reality more than a decade ago. Now, we are taking the next step, shifting our strategy to focus on enabling partners.

Companies need to make decisions quickly, providers need to deliver on those expectations quickly, and IBM commits to providing the technology, skills and support to realise those needs. In this newsletter, we will touch on some of these changes and showcase the solutions that set us apart from the rest.

Transformation can be hard. At IBM, we know this – we've experienced it a few times since 1911. But with the right spirit of collaboration and partnership, it needn't be a gauntlet. Today's world is symbolic of networks, collaboration and combining the best ideas for specific outcomes. IBM and our ecosystem partners are prepared for the unprecedented wave of digitisation to continue in 2022. As we help create resilience in the face of continued uncertainty, we’re excited for the wave of digital innovation ushered in as partners and clients leverage IBM technologies and expertise.

We are playing our part at IBM – please join us in this exciting new chapter.

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