Become a Part of IBM’s Culture of Innovation

Bill Chamberlin
Bill Chamberlin – Principal Analyst in IBM’s Corporate Market Insights & Development Team

By Bill Chamberlin

IBM turned 100 years old in 2011. 100 years is a major milestone for any company.   The vast majority of companies don’t make it past their 10th year, let alone 100 years.

How does a large company like IBM continue to survive and even thrive in an industry that experiences one disruptive trend after another? The answer is that we cultivate an innovative culture throughout our organization. We keep our eyes on the future, willing to change everything we have done in the past in order to provide the products and services our clients will be requiring in the future.

In this post, I provide some examples of IBM organizations and initiatives. They illustrate how IBM approaches the discipline of market analysis and strategic foresight and builds a culture of innovation.

  • IBM Research.   For more than sixty years, IBM Research has been the innovation engine of the IBM Corporation. From helping the Apollo space missions land on the moon to the discovery of fractals; from the technology behind laser eye surgery to a question answering computer called Watson now being applied to health care, IBM Research continues to define the future of technology. We have 12 research labs on six continents. Example initiatives within IBM research include our Thinklab, our Cognitive Computing projects and the Smarter Energy Research Institute.   Interested in joining our research team? Have a look at the careers available within IBM Research.
  • Global Technology Outlook (GTO). The GTO is a report developed annually by IBM Research and identifies disruptive societal, technical and economic trends that might impact IBM and its clients. After a year-long study and extensive vetting with IBM’s senior leaders, the completed report is used within IBM to define our technological areas of focus and investment.
  • Academy of Technology. The IBM Academy of Technology is a society of IBM technical leaders across all IBM Business Units. The Academy’s mission is to advance the understanding of key emerging technical areas. Groups of technical leaders voluntarily study, organize, synthesize and advance technical dialogue and innovation across business lines on important emerging technical topics.
  • IBM Jam Events. Jams are online collaborative discussions and brainstorming sessions for focused audiences ranging in size from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands. The brainstorming sessions are enhanced by real-time text analysis and data mining software that highlights hot discussions and possible solutions. IBM’s Jams and other Web 2.0 collaborative mediums are opening up tremendous possibilities for collaborative innovation — ways of working across industries, disciplines, and national border. For more, IBM’s Jam page.
  • Institute for Business Value. The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) is global team of 50+ consultants who conduct research and analysis across multiple industries and functional disciplines. IBV Consultants author thought leadership papers, like “Future Agendas” and “C-Suite Studies” that provides an original, research-based point of view told from a client’s business perspective. Learn more about Consulting careers at IBM
  • Market Development & Insights. IBM’s Market Develop & Insight is a global team of market research analysts and consultants that research topics of importance to IBM business leaders and strategists. The team accelerates the understanding of new or emerging markets, and acts as a catalyst for future growth. The team provides foresight from a marketing perspective, including market definition, opportunity analysis, market drivers/inhibitors, potential segmentation, and competitive intelligence. Learn more about careers in IBM Market Development & Insights.
  • Center for Applied Insights. The IBM Center for Applied Insights (CAI) team is part of the Market & Development Insights team mentioned above. IBM’s CAI team performs primary and secondary research to uncover new ways of thinking, working, and leading. The team spends time interviewing experts and innovative business leaders adopting emerging technologies. By studying organizations and leaders active in these emerging spaces they understand what motivates them and what makes some more effective than others? They learn how these leaders are overcoming obstacles and what best practices are emerging in the adoption of new technologies.
  • HorizonWatch Trends Research. The HorizonWatch Trends Research is a program within the Market Development & Insights organization mentioned above. The program’s mission is to improve IBM’s collective ability to sense future disruptive technologies, business issues, trends and opportunities. Trend reports are produced annually that provides all IBM professionals headlights into the future. The program sponsors conference calls on emerging topics and an internal collaboration and community platform that allows the IBM employees to share and brainstorm ideas about how the future will play out. For more, check out some previous external versions of HorizonWatch Trend reports on Slideshare.

The above are just a few of the examples of innovation at work within IBM. It is an exciting place to work and I encourage you to explore all the different careers that are available. As an employee, you will be encouraged to schedule time to innovate. This includes thinking about potential future client and IBM opportunities, learning new skills and participating in collaborative brainstorming sessions.

One thing is for certain: IBM will be around for a very long time. Because, in a unique way, we all ‘pretend’ we are an innovating startup company, not a 100 year old company.

Bill Chamberlin is a Principal Analyst in IBM’s Corporate Market Insights & Development Team to hear more from Bill, take a look at his personal blog here.

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