About IBM World Trade Europe/Middle/East/africa Corporation

International Business Machines (IBM) bets that cognition is the ignition for growth. The company is investing in it what is calls cognitive computing systems, led by the Watson artificial intelligence platform, that help customers analyze massive amounts of data to make better decisions. Among other areas the company is betting on for growth are security, cloud, and blockchain. The company's information technology, business services, and software units are among the largest in the world. While IBM has placed less emphasis on hardware, the company maintains enterprise server and data storage product lines that are among industry leaders. As the perennial leader in the number of US patents granted, IBM maintains a steady pipeline of potential products.

Operations

IBM manages its sprawling operations in five segments.

Technology Services and Cloud Platforms, which generates about 45% of revenue, provides a portfolio of cloud, outsourcing, and other managed services focused on clients' enterprise IT infrastructure. Offerings include maintenance for IBM products and other technology platforms, as well as support.

Cognitive Solutions, which provides about a quarter of revenue, includes Watson, IBM's cognitive computing project. Major Watson initiatives are Watson Platform, Watson Health, and Watson Internet of Things. Another part of the unit is the company's security platform, which provides detection and protection against cyber threats across a customer's operations.

Global Business Services, about 20% of revenue, provides consulting, application management services, and global process services to help customers move their businesses to digital platforms.

Systems, about 10% of revenue, is IBM's hardware business. It provides technologies for hybrid cloud and cognitive workloads. The unit sells servers, storage systems, and operating systems software.

Global Financing provides credit arrangements for customers to buy IBM products. It accounts for about 2% of revenue.

Geographic Reach

The international in IBM has become increasingly important to its bottom line. With clients in about 175 countries, sales outside the US account for more than 50% of revenue. Customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) generate about 30% of sales and Asia/Pacific, about 20%.

Sales and Marketing

IBM operates country-based units where consultants, product specialists, and other workers (most hired locally), facilitate the adoption and fulfillment of its products and services. It serves clients across most industries; leading industry groups include financial services, industrial, and communications.

Financial Performance

Over the past five years, IBM has lost about $20 billion in revenue as it tries to reposition itself to capitalize on cognitive computing, data, analytics, and cloud computing. So far, sales declines tied to older products have outpaced sales of its newer offerings.

Revenue slipped about 1% to $79.2 billion in 2017 from 2016. Sales were about 2% higher in Cognitive Solutions from offerings in security, industry platforms, and Watson systems (the company reported double-digit growth for its Watson Health products). Systems sales rose about 6%, driven by strong response to its z14 mainframe.

Technology Services & Cloud Platforms segment sales dropped about 3% overall, but IBM reported growth in the segment's cloud, analytics, mobile, and security elements grew. In Global Business Services growth in strategic initiatives was offset by declines in large ERP and on-premise enterprise application implementation.

IBM's profit dropped by half to about $5.7 billion in 2017 from 2016. The biggest difference was a one-time tax bill of about $5.5 billion because of changes in US tax laws enacted in late 2017.

The company had about $12 billion in cash in 2017, compared to about $7.8 billion in 2016. The company banked more cash from favorable exchange rates and spent less on acquisitions in 2017.

Strategy

IBM halted its string of quarterly revenue declines at 22 quarters in the fourth quarter of 2017 when sales rose almost 4% from the same quarter in 2016. For the year, IBM's revenue was down about 1.5%, the sixth straight year of lower annual revenue.

IBM thinks indicators are pointing in the right direction and that its investments in cognitive computing, cloud, security, big data, and analytics are beginning to pay off. Together, these helped IBM's Cognitive Solutions business generate more than $18 billion in revenue in 2017. The company highlighted a 24% increase in cloud revenue as well as contributions from the Watson platform including its health initiative.

Besides those areas, IBM is investing in emerging technologies such as blockchain and those in earlier stages of research such as quantum computing.

In cloud computing, the company competes with market leaders Amazon, Google (a unit of Alphabet), and Microsoft. IBM focuses on hybrid cloud, the mixture of keeping data on IBM computers and the customer's own systems. In 2017, the company introduced a Z series mainframe with encryption capabilities, which is part of its security focus.

Mergers and Acquisitions

IBM continues to use an aggressive acquisition strategy to augment its own R&D as it expands and refines its mix of business software and IT services. Many of the acquisitions have been made to provide data and services for the Watson system. IBM has earmarked $100 million to acquire startups that could expand Watson's capabilities.

The company's acquisition activity slowed in 2017 to five deals for a total of $134 million. In 2016 IBM bought spent about $6 billion in 15 companies. The 2017 transactions were for smaller companies that filled in niches in IBM cognitive and cloud businesses.

In 2016 the company made nearly 15 acquisitions. The biggest acquisition of 2016 was of Truven Health Analytics, which provides data and analysis technologies, for $2.6 billion. IBM seeks to put data and analysis together with Watson's cognitive capabilities to help health care professionals accomplish better patient outcomes.

In another Watson-related acquisition that closed in 2016 was of the Weather Company. IBM bought the company's business-to-business, mobile and cloud-based web-properties, weather.com, Weather Underground, The Weather Company brand and WSI, its global business-to-business brand. The transaction did not include the Weather Channel, but it licenses weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract. The deal provides a wealth of data for processing through Watson to help companies make better decisions that are affected by the weather.

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IBM World Trade Europe/Middle/East/africa Corporation

1 New Orchard Rd
Armonk, NY 10504-1722
Fax: 1 (914) 499-7534

Stats

  • Employer Type: Public
  • Soa Portfolio Manager Strategy: Antony Null Cowan
  • Director Of Finance: Daria Schuster
  • Employees: 400

Major Office Locations

  • Armonk, NY