lunes, julio 19, 2010

El gerenciamiento actual de IBM

Forbes publicó el siete de julio una nota de Bridget van Kralingen, general manager de IBM para Estados Unidos y Canadá, donde la ejecutiva defiende y elogia el modo en que hoy IBM conduce sus negocios y los recursos de la empresa, saliendo de una época en que la organización hizo crisis. De sus palabras, lo que más claramente sale, es la anemia de ideas con la que la dirección de IBM afronta una época aún más difícil que la previa para mantenerse como empresa global. Van Kralingen pinta en tres párrafos el valor perdido:
It is hard to watch what many companies are going through today. Automakers, the news media, entertainment industry businesses, banks and other financial institutions--they and others are being seriously challenged by market forces, technology shifts and the changing dynamics of a global economy. Some of them are fighting for their very survival.

At my company we know what that is like. We have been there.
If you go back about a quarter of a century, IBM was at the pinnacle of success. Over the previous two decades we had practically invented general-purpose computing for business. We had helped put a man on the moon. Our researchers won Nobel Prizes. Our revenue and market share skyrocketed as customers clamored for our latest products. By 1984 we were the toast of Wall Street.

Less than a decade later, we were toast. In 1993 we posted what at the time was the biggest loss in the history of corporate America, $8 billion. We had missed a number of key technology shifts. Customers who had previously said "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" were abandoning us for faster, more nimble competitors. One major business publication labeled us a dinosaur. Another said our era had passed.
¿Y qué defiende Van Kralingen del "nuevo modelo" de negocios de IBM:
1. Recorte, offshoring y simplificación:
(...) Because of our global reach and advances in technology, we were able to move past that and adopt a shared-services model that allowed us to strip away a lot of that cost and complexity while also better using our resources and talent. We adopted standard processes and reporting procedures for all our internal functions and consolidated those activities in key centers.

We also adopted this approach to how we develop, deliver and support our products and services. This allowed us to tap the best talent and resources wherever they resided, be it in Bangalore, Brazil, Bratislava or Boulder, to run our business and serve clients around the world. This model has allowed us to lower our shared-services costs by about 25% over the last five years.

It also ensures that nine out of 10 IBM employees now focus on developing, producing and delivering high-value solutions for our clients rather than servicing the internal workings of IBM. [¿Incluirá dentro de estas "tareas internas" las de investigación y desarrollo, las que le dieron el gran diferencial a IBM?]
2. Cambio del portafolios de negocios, recurriendo a la compra de empresas para entrar en nuevas áreas...abandonando mercados:
Sometimes companies must fully transform their portfolios. Companies in a crisis need to look at their entire portfolios, rationally and candidly, and figure out what they have that customers want today and what customers will want tomorrow. Then get rid of anything that does not fit the resulting model, and invest in the growth opportunities.

In our case, the information technology industry was rapidly becoming commoditized, and we determined that we needed to shift our portfolio to a more balanced mix of high-value offerings. That meant growing our services and software businesses, both through internal investments and through acquisitions. We have acquired more than 200 companies at a cost of $30 billion to help fill out our portfolio of products and services in these strategic growth areas, such as our growing analytics business.

It also meant divesting low-growth, low-margin product lines and technologies like memory chips, technology components, printers, displays and personal computers. This was easier said than done, as those were technologies, products and even whole markets that we had invented and developed.
Así llegó el desprendimiento del negocio de la computación de escritorio y móvil (hoy Lenovo), y el languidecimiento del As400 (o iSeries, etc). Doscientas compañías compradas por alrededor de treinta mil millones de dólares implican convertir a una empresa en una administradora de cartera, un modelo formado por dos componentes: un gerenciamiento desapegado, y una estructura de recursos humanos en cada producto que se ve como un commodity. Me inclino a dudar del valor del tercer elemento destacado por Van Kralingen (Success comes from leadership, not mere survival (...) The path to success lies in understanding the relevant trends, figuring out how your strengths and resources can capitalize on them and staking out a leadership position...).
Pocos comentarios de lectores (seis), pero coincidentes: IBM todavía debe demostrar que es capaz de recuperar el liderazgo. Por ejemplo, JohnHessNJ:
This is an interesting viewpoint, especially since I do not believe Ms van Kralingen was even employed at IBM during this "turn around". Here is what I know though. The stock has grown less than 3% a year during the past decade. Yet IBM execs bring home millions in compensation. I can tell you as a long time IBMer that morale is as low as it was in the early 90's. van Kralingen is preaching like an expert while destroying business value. She ought to be receiving advice, not giving it
Esta nota requiere ser completada poniendo a IBM en el flujo del mercado. Será luego.

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