Why I am an IBMer

by Frank De Gilio

ibm-rainbowSummer is over, and as our college interns were heading back to school for the fall, one of the questions I heard often from them sticks in my mind: After all this time, why do you still work for IBM?

Their question is understandable. The media says that the most important thing is to be part of the next big thing, and that the real cool technical stuff like “cloud” happens at Google or Amazon or someplace like that.

The truth is, there is more new technology happening here than anywhere else—it’s just that it’s tucked out of sight for most people. Sure, we don’t produce flashy devices like the new iPhone or trendy apps like Instagram. But when you make a flight reservation or a bank account transfer with an app on that shiny, new mobile device, what do you think is doing the real work to complete that transaction? Yup—it’s new IBM technology.

Other people may make the stuff you think is cool, but we’re the guys who make that cool stuff work. Note that when you put something “into the cloud” with your handy gadget, it doesn’t actually go into a cloud—it goes onto powerful servers and storage devices, managed by sophisticated software, in some far off data center. There’s a whole lot going on beneath the surface that you never see to make that app do what you want it to do consistently, reliably and securely. That’s what we do.

In fact, when it comes to invention and innovation, IBM has been granted more patents than any other company for the last 21 years straight. The “cool” companies didn’t even crack the top 10 last year. And many of our patents are the foundation for some very cool things we can do today or in the not-too-distant future. For example:

– A hurricane is bearing down on the East Coast, and a utility manager using a tablet computer in his car moves your data—bank accounts, credit card info, insurance policies—from a data center sitting in the bulls eye of the storm to servers in a safer location. Who’s technology does that? Ours.

– Everybody charges online to take advantage of those great Cyber Monday sales after Thanksgiving, and the retailers’ servers automatically adjust for the added traffic to ensure you get that super-savings discount deal on a My Pretty Pony for your niece. Who did that? We did.

– Don’t you just hate it when you’re playing a Minecraft marathon or binge-watching Mad Men online and the video stream starts to chatter because too many other people are doing the same thing? There’s an app for that. Guess who? Yup, us again.

How do we do it? A long tradition of technology leadership, a passion for innovation, and a commitment to changing the world for the better. We’re the company that invented general purpose computing 50 years ago. We helped put a man on the moon. We built the machines that beat a world champion at chess and Jeopady! champions on TV. And we’re the ones making the world smarter today—from reducing traffic congestion in major cities around the globe to helping doctors better diagnose and treat major diseases like cancer.

While other companies may specialize in a specific technology niche, we cover the full breadth of the industry, from servers and storage, to software, to services and even business consulting. Cloud, analytics, mobile, social, security—all the big growth areas in our industry—we’re in ‘em. And all those years of patent leadership means that there are lot of really smart people working on that technology.

That translates to loads of opportunity to learn, grow and work in emerging technology areas with some of the best talent in the industry. Whether it is learning how flash drives work, or exploring what makes complex analytics software tick, or puzzling through how to help a business implement the latest technology, there is someone at IBM with experience and expertise to share. They not only understand the latest technology, they can tell you the history, provide context, and even predict what’s going to happen next.

And that breadth of technology and expertise translates to personal opportunity. When I joined IBM after college nearly 30 years ago, I started out testing software code. Later, I worked in a programming tools organization, and then product development. Now I help our clients develop their cloud strategies. Typically, you’d have to work at four or five different companies to have all those different career experiences. But at IBM you have the opportunity to continuously reinvent yourself, limited only by your interests and talent.

So when those college interns ask me why I’ve stayed at IBM for my entire career, I tell them it’s because I get to work with smart people on important things. I stay at IBM because I have nearly limitless opportunities to learn new things and venture into new areas that interest me. And I stay because it is a place where I can make a difference—in technology, in business and in the world at large.


About Frank De Gilio

FrankFrank De Gilio is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Cloud Architect. With more than 30 years experience, De Gilio is focused on developing enterprise-wide cloud solutions. His approach looks at an enterprise’s holistic requirements for cloud, uniting the development, operational and business aspects of the cloud deployment model to ensure that a business is looking at all elements of the technology.

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