The Grey Chronicles



When I took the management course in Business Policy in 2006, the lecturer assigned me to do a corporate analysis on International Business Machines [IBM] Corporation. The assignment required for a case analysis detailing Corporate Profile, Business Operations Model, Vision and Mission; Corporate Strategy; Recommendations on specific strategies and long-term objectives to sustain growth, increase profitability and maintain its competitive advantage using Competitive Profile Matrix, External and Internal Factor Evaluation Matrices, and Matching Key Factors and Strategies. This assignment, given on the first month of the semester was to be completed by the fourth month by a class presentation as well as the required case analysis paper.

During the research, I was able to access IBM’s Innovation website. From a simple web request, IBM sent me both printed copies of the Global Innovation Outlook [GIO] 1.0 and 2.0 before my class presentation, and key ideas from these copies were also included in my case analysis. My case analysis discussion on IBM’s strategy on innovation, however, were a summarized version of the corporate web contents and the key ideas of both issues of the GIO.

After my MBM graduation last 01 April 2009, I embarked on spring-cleaning my notebook for inconsequential files lurking in the hard drive as only about 6% free space remained after years of use. I was surprised that I was still holding on to old folders, super-hidden and read-only, of my three-month research for that IBM case analysis. So before I delete these files, I decided a once-over and make a post regarding IBM and GIO.


The Global Innovation Outlook (2006) is IBM’s equivalent of IMF’s World Economic Outlook series. Launched in 2004, the GIO opened IBM’s forecasting processes to include thought leaders from businesses large and small, the public sector, academia, citizens’ groups, the venture capital community and other key constituencies. The GIO provides “a platform for some of the world’s thinkers—provocateurs and pragmatists alike— to engage in a series of open, candid and freewheeling conversations about important issues” from healthcare to the environment, the role of government to the future of the enterprise. It also investigates innovation itself, which after GIO 1.0 finds that innovation “is no longer invention in search of purpose, no longer the domain of a solitary genius looking to take the world by storm.”

GIO discovers that innovation is increasingly:

global—the widespread adoption of networked technologies and open standards is removing barriers of geography and accessibility;

multidisciplinary because the challenges before us are more complex that requires a diverse mix of talent and expertise; and

collaborative and open—innovation results from people working together in new and integrated ways.”

For GIO 2.0, 248 thought leaders from nearly three dozen countries [including the Philippines] and regions, representing 178 organizations, gathered on four continents for 15 “deep dive” sessions to discuss three focus areas and emerging trends, challenges and opportunities that affect business and society.

The focus areas for GIO 2.0 were:

1. The Future of the Enterprise. If the Industrial Age is in fact giving way to the Knowledge Age, what are the new foundational structures and organizing principles that will characterize institutions in this era?

2. Transportation. If at the core of almost all our lives—and perhaps even our genetic makeup—lies the need and desire to move about freely, will 21st-century technology facilitate increased mobility?

3. The Environment. If one of the premises of the first GIO was the impossibility of separating the world of business from society and its attendant opportunities and challenges, then what of the relationship between business and the literal environment—our planet?”

Many of the patterns seen in the first GIO in 2004—the need for standards, the trend toward open IP and collaboration, the primacy of the individual—continued to resonate and be redefined with the second GIO (2006). Aside from 19 other insights, new patterns emerged:

The power of networks. Individuals are not acting in isolation. . . power comes largely from their ability to tap into and sometimes transform a larger network of people and ideas. . . innovation must extend beyond the level of technology, product, business model or policy. Social innovation—the creation of new or applied structures that alter the nature of roles, relationships and interactions—will become an essential aspect of business of 21st century. . . Innovation in business and society is fueled by the unifying notion of the endeavor—activities driven by a common set of interests, goals or values. . .In such a collaborative, contribution-based environment, the role of the traditional enterprise could shift to orchestration and facilitation of the endeavors between these individuals or group of individuals. Power of networks implies a much more complex set of causes and effects as well as the idea of reputation capital—a kind of accumulated trust, a standard of accountability that enables diverse, and often virtual, networks of people to confidently strike partnerships with one another.

Line of sight. The very nature of decision-making for individuals, business and the world is being shaped by these larger networks. Local actions now have global consequences, and the reverse is true as well. . . Repeatedly, debates whether line of sight into the full consequences of one’s actions might actually inspire a different set of choices. . . Harnessing the wealth of data and information available from increasingly distributed and disparate sources could represent the next huge opportunity for societal and business innovation.

Flipping the equation suggests that application of intellectual energy in those areas exactly opposite of where it is currently focused could accelerate new breakthroughs and advancements. . . shift research into the decomposition of products rather than the composition, or develop transportation system that focus on the divergence of people versus the convergence, or create business models that allow easier disaggregation of resources and talent rather than fostering their allocation. . . [this] requires moving beyond "either/or" thinking, demands the ability to manage seemingly conflicting dualities at once. . . Innovation often requires solutions that allow economic progress, environmental protection and societal advancement to coexist.”


IBM (2006). Global Innovation Outlook 2.0. New York: International Business Machines Corporation, 2006. pp. 2-3, 7, 9-11 back to text

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.


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