IBM Vision 2012 welcomed two outstanding keynote speakers, Mark Loughridge, IBM SVP and CFO, Finance and Enterprise Transformation, and Alison Levine, Team Captain, First American Women's Everest Expedition.
While both told vastly different stories, the themes of each presentation were uniquely similar – a well-laid plan, mitigation of risk and an excellence for teamwork and collaboration.
You can watch the full keynotes via LiveStream here, as well as the day one general sessions.
Loughridge’s tale is one of survival and a true comeback story.
In the early 1990s, faced declining profits and revenues and the first loss in its history, IBM embarked on a journey of enterprise transformation.
Loughridge explained how the root of IBM’s struggles was cultural that was enflamed by lack of information content – incompatible data and non-linked regional systems – that constrained the ability to make good decisions.
“We made a bold move,” said Loughridge. “We restructured all regional reporting, created a central information warehouse and had all the accountants from each geography report directly into corporate.”
Another problem for IBM was the incredible amount of in-fighting between divisions. Loughridge said it became apparent that if there wasn’t strong collaboration between units you might as well go and find another place to work.
To drive this transformation, IBM committed to three key objectives:
· Create a globally integrated enterprise
· Never reduce commitment to R&D
· Divest low growth, low margin product lines
Today, IBM has steepened this transformation curve delivering deeper business insight with its own analytics technology. “We are beginning the ‘Smarter’ phase of our enterprise productivity,” said Loughridge.
IBM now uses analytics to better execute on acquisitions – being quicker and more agile than its competitors – and to automate and streamline its internal processes (expense accounts, payables and receivables).
“We’ll continue to transform the organization and at the center of that will be business analytics,” concluded Loughridge.
Creating an analytics-based culture will help IBM as it strives to climb to $20 billion in incremental revenue by 2015 in its key growth initiatives – business analytics, cloud, growth markets and Smarter Planet.
And speaking of climbing…
Alison Levine followed Loughridge on stage and shared her adventures to the North and South Poles, as well as her climbs of the “Seven Summits” to illustrate the importance of managing and mitigating risk.
She created great links between what she has learned on the mountain and how those same lessons can be applied to the business world.
Levine offered the following ten pieces of advice:
· It’s all about assembling the right team, with the right skills. Recruiting mistakes can be quite costly.
· When you set lofty objectives, break them down to checkpoints along the way. Objectives become easier to tackle.
· You have to go backwards to move forward.
· Being afraid is fine, but complacency is what will kill you.
· Form partnerships early and collaborate often. You’ll need strong relationships before you’ll need help and those are the people you can rely on.
· No matter how good or prepared you are, things can and will go wrong, but the “storms” are always temporary.
· Key to surviving is taking action based on the situation at the specific time. Not based on some plan.
· Turning back and walking away from a deal is harder than moving forward, but it’s necessary for survival. If the conditions aren’t right, cut your losses and walk away.
· Remember that every move you make, will affect everyone else around you. Sometimes, one person’s bad judgment can bring down an entire organization or team.
· Have to give yourself room to fail as long as you come back from it better and stronger.
Levine completed her session by admitting that even though she had reached the top of all seven of the continents highest peaks, it “was not really that big of a deal.”
“It’s important to remember all of the people who help you on your journey,” said Levine. “No one gets to the top by themselves.”