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The Evolution of IBM

Sunday, 13 January 2013 02:00


A few years ago, IBM faced certain death. Their metamorphosis into a planet changing institution was an inspired strategic move to say the least.

I'm a fan of their passion and keep an eye out for their cultural evolutions, thinking and client success. Late in 2012, they quietly made a move that I have the feeling will ripple success well into the next decade.

IBM has long understood the evolution of social media as a management tool; IBM back end social media analytics and tools rock. But the IBM scientists are not arrogant—they acknowledged internally a weakness when it came to consumer interface expertise.

Enter a long-term partnership with Publicis, the global ad agency who had been furiously building the best social media creative network across the developing world. Now, Smarter Planet has the innovation partner with capacity to implement by connecting their vision with communities—be they real or virtual.

In our work, we see a plethora of innovative opportunities in Africa. But one of Africa's biggest challenges is create the competency to implement innovative ideas and manage them into profitable ventures that tangibly contribute to shareholder value.

One of the companies we most admire is IDEO. Born in Silicon Valley as the design firm that invented the Apple Mouse, they have evolved into a global powerhouse driven to export Human Centered Design thinking to the world. We're believers; and our methodologies are designed to implement that philosophy for the developing world organization.

Profitable innovation comes from objective observation and ruthless curiosity. Steve Jobs was right: people don't know what they want so there's no use in asking them. Consumers and customers will, however, SHOW you what they want and need if you are willing to put in the time with them watching their behaviors and listening to their life stories. Today, this means you need eyes and ears in the real and virtual communities to get the full picture. Thanks to social media, this picture is now a constantly evolving video—with no end.

We will work hard in 2013 to help more and more CEOs and organizational leaders embrace the power of innovation thinking as a process to deliver sustainable profit growth. Innovation is not just a new product exercise but a requisite cultural evolution for a consumercentric organization.

Innovation thinking is the heart of a modern revenue risk management strategy.