Emerging Business Opportunities at Ibm

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Founded in 1911, IBM was for many years the world's dominant computer company. But by the time when Louis V. Gertsner obtained the CEO position at the above corporation it was in a very problematic situation. At the press many analytics described the case like deep depression. Most prominent were two men – Charles Morris and Charles Ferguson – who had written a book, "Computer Wars", which took a grim view of IBM's prospects. They stated: "There is a serious possibility that IBM is finished as a force in the industry. Bill Gates, the software tycoon whom everybody in the industry loves to hate, denies having said in an unguarded moment that IBM ‘will fold in seven years.' But Gates may be right. IBM is now an also-ran in almost every major computer technology introduced since 1980…Traditional big computers are not going to disappear overnight, but they are old technology, and the realm in which they hold sway is steadily shrinking. The brontosaurus moved deeper into the swamps when the mammals took over the forests, but one day it ran out of swamps." Their book concluded that "the question for the present is whether IBM can survive. From our analysis thus far, it is clear that we think its prospects are very bleak."

Even though the view of these two authors was too grim, many other journals and newspapers at that time observed the future of IBM in quite a pessimistic way. "The Economist", for example, stated: "In an industry driven by rapid technological change and swarming with smaller, nimbler firms, can a company of IBM's size, however organized, react quickly enough to compete? And can IBM earn enough from expanding market segments such as computer services, software, and consulting to offset the horrifying decline in mainframe sales, from which it has always made most of its money? The answer to both questions may be no."

The title of Gertsner's book about IBM reflects the above two questions. "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?" he asks...
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