About Vivisimo, Inc.

International Business Machines (IBM) is the world's top provider of computer products and services. Called Big Blue for a reason, the company is among the leaders in almost every market in which it competes. It focuses primarily on its services business, which accounts for nearly 60% of sales. While IBM made its name in computer hardware (think mainframes), the company's information technology, business services, and software units are now among the largest in the world. While it has moved from hardware to a large degree, the company maintains its industry-leading enterprise server and data storage products lines. IBM is transforming its operations as it deals with a rapidly changing technology environment.

Operations

IBM manages its sprawling operations in five segments. Global Technology Services and Global Business Services (together called Global Services) account for nearly 60% of revenue and include a full range of enterprise IT and business consulting offerings. Software (primarily middleware and operating systems software) generates about a quarter of sales, with Systems and Technology (advanced computer power and storage products) and Global Financing bringing in about 11% and 2%, respectively.

Geographic Reach

The international in IBM has become increasingly important to its bottom line. With clients in about 175 countries, overseas sales account for nearly two-thirds of total revenues. The US accounts for 35% of its total revenues, while Japan represents about 9%.

Sales and Marketing

IBM operates country-based units where consultants, product specialists, and others (to a large degree hired locally), facilitate the adoption and fulfillment of its products and services. Among its major markets are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, and the UK. The company also targets Austria, the Bahamas, Belgium, the Caribbean, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It serves clients across most industries; leading industry groups include financial services, industrial, and communications.

Financial Performance

As the company works to reposition itself to capitalize on data, analytics and cloud computing, among other areas, its revenue has dropped for three consecutive years. Revenue in 2014 fell 6% to $92.8 billion. With the exception of the small Global Financing segment, IBM revenue decreased in all its segments in 2014, including a nearly 23% drop in its Systems and Technology hardware business. The hardware segment is struggling amid a changing landscape in which more customers are turning to cloud-based services instead of investing in their own server and storage upgrades. Net income, which felt the impact of lower revenue, fell a dramatic 27% to just more than $12 billion in 2014. With lower net income, cash flow from operations fell to $16.9 billion in 2014 from $17.5 billion in 2013.

Strategy

IBM is trying to bridge its operations from the days of high margin hardware and long-term service contracts to the lower margin model of selling subscription-based use of software stored in the cloud. The company has developed a broad strategy around the key trends of big data and analytics, cloud computing, and social/mobile. It sees these areas as major growth opportunities and brings to bear both homegrown initiatives and acquisitions to cultivate them.

In one deal made in 2014, IBM and Apple have developed enterprise applications for Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, for businesses to use analyzed data on the go. In another deal, IBM has partnered with Twitter to use Big Blue's processing and analytics power to mine information from the Twitterverse.

A key element in IBM's plans is its Watson cognitive computing system, which can assimilate complex information and deliver answers to questions across a range of industries. It is one of the initiatives in which IBM will invest $4 billion over the next few years. The company is also making Watson more widely available through the Watson Ecosystem, which has grown to more than 160 outside developers of applications for the system.

In addition, IBM is focused on emerging markets where the populations and companies that serve them are embracing mobile, social, cloud, and big data at faster rates, in some cases, than mature countries. The company struck deals in 2014 in India with a bank and a telecommunications company to manage services and operations.

As it pursues growth, IBM is divesting low-growth operations. In late 2014 it sold its x86 server business to  Lenovo for $2.3 billion. (Back in 2005 it sold its PC business to the Chinese computer maker.) The company has also expressed interesting in selling more of its hardware businesses. In late 2014, it divested its money-losing semiconductor business, paying about $1.5 billion to  GlobalFoundries to have it take over the operations.

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. In 2015, the company bought Alchemy API, a startup that collects and analyzes large amounts of data. The company will be part of IBM's Watson group. IBM has earmarked $100 million to acquire startups that could expand Watson's capabilities.

In 2014, the company picked up six companies for a total of $608 million that highlight its strategic thrusts including cloud, security and analytics. The acquired companies: Aspera Inc.. Cloudant Inc., Silverpop Systems Inc., Cognea Group, CrossIdeas Srl, and Lighthouse Security Group.

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Vivisimo, Inc.

1710 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217-1687
Phone: 1 (412) 422-2499
www.ibm.com

Stats

  • Employer Type: Public
  • Pres: Kevin E Calderwood
  • Cfo: Jorge Forgues
  • Ceo: John M Kealey

Major Office Locations

  • Pittsburgh, PA

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