IBM: From Inventor to Innovator|Business Strategy|Case Study|Case Studies

IBM: From Inventor to Innovator

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR136
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1970 - 2004
Organization : IBM
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : USA, Global
Industry : Information Technology

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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EXCERPTS Contd...

Better Late Than Never

In the 1990s and early-2000s, IBM Research was involved in a number of path breaking research initiatives. In the 1990s, it developed deep computing that used parallel processing to solve complex computing problems. In 1997, Deep Blue, a chess playing super computer developed by IBM Research, defeated Gary Kasparov, the then world champion.

In the late-1990s, IBM Research announced the development of another supercomputer, called Blue Gene, which would use deep computing to help biologists explore how proteins folded themselves up into their distinctive shapes. Blue Gene was being touted as the fastest computer on earth, capable of performing one quadrillion calculations per second. IBM was also developing 'on-demand-computing', that was widely believed to be the future of computing. On-demand-computing would enable customers to purchase variable amounts of computing power according to their requirements at different times, as they did for public utilities like electricity and water. Using on-demand-computing, customers would be able to respond to changes in their technological requirements, faster...

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Can IBM Resurrect?

Analysts were divided in their opinions about the future of IBM. While most of them agreed that IBM Research's strength lay in its ability to attract and retain excellent researchers (over the years, IBM Research employed five Nobel Laureates, two of whom were still working there in 2003), they said its success would depend on its ability to bring about a harmonious relationship between research and product development, and sustain it.

In the early-2000s, IBM was actively managing the relationship between pure and applied research to ensure continuing relevance to its products. IBM Research was also proactive in creating and evaluating technology transfer programs and ensuring that innovations had commercial relevance. Considering the breadth and depth of the research at IBM, many analysts felt that it was capable of helping IBM regain its past glory, making it a dominant force in the future. It was also noteworthy that IBM managed to steady itself in time and did not lose its markets completely. Analysts compared IBM favorably with other companies like Xerox and Pacific Bell, whose research wings, PARC and Bell Laboratories, never managed to do much for the parent organizations, despite being the inventors of path breaking products...

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Exhibits

Exhibit I: IBM's Patents Over the Years
Exhibit II: Top Patents Recipients
Exhibit III: IBM Timeline


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