IBM turns 100: From punch cards to cloud computing

IBM turns 100: From punch cards to cloud computing

Big Blue has come a very long way since it was established a century ago and former Australian leaders gather to reflect on their time with the company and where its heading

IBM Australia leaders (LtoR): Bob Savage, Andrew Stevens, Glen Boreham, Brian Finn, Phil Bullock and David Thodey

IBM Australia leaders (LtoR): Bob Savage, Andrew Stevens, Glen Boreham, Brian Finn, Phil Bullock and David Thodey

Big Blue was first formed in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating and Recording Company, specialising in punch cards, commercial scales and clocks. Fast forward 100 years, top priorities revolve around technology within the healthcare sector and cloud computing.

As it turned this milestone, former IBM Australia head honchos Brian Finn (1980 – 1993), Bob Savage (1996 – 1999), David Thodey (1999 – 2000), Phil Bullock (2001 – 2005), Glen Boreham (2006 – 2010) and current managing director, Andrew Stevens, all gathered in Sydney to celebrate the occasion. Collectively the leadership line up has clocked 150 years worth of experience with Finn and Savage working for IBM for 35 years each.

Current managing director, Andrew Stevens, said it had a very serious investment in talent and financial resources in cloud computing.

“Cloud is one many challenges, opportunities, innovations and IBM is right in the thick of it,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the challenge and benefit of cloud computing was that it enforced innovation within the industry.

“I’m confident in our ability to come up with a solution for many of our clients and we’ll be a lead player,” he said.

Stevens also pointed to the importance and value associated with data as well as the role it will play within the health sector.

“The big contribution we’ll make is in health because of the role that data, high performance computing, modelling, computation and mathematical skills – it’s going to require a lot of that,” he said.

As the company approached its 100 year milestone, it has achieved worldwide revenues of $100 billion.

It has come a long way since its inception and entrance into the Australian market in 1932. Brian Finn was leading the company at the time it made half a century in 1982.

He reflected on some of his biggest achievements citing the team of people he worked with, as well as surviving two recessions.

“I recall the near death experience in the early 1990’s when IBM was in serious trouble, and it was very serious – it made the global financial crisis look like a blip,” Finn said. “We had to transform our company and close to a third of the people left.

"Managing through that period was difficult, but at the end of the day it was rewarding because it start the conservation of Australia and New Zealand and the terrific group of people that we had at the end, they were the people who really wanted to be part of the company going forward. It was a tremendous thing for me to experience.”

The transaction between Telstra, Lend Lease and IBM, was a life-changing transition for Big Blue, during Bob Savage’s tenure.

As a result of the Telstra deal, it entered into contracts with government departments and private health insurers.

“We had seen revenue declines in big clients in the work force in Australia, commoditisation of hardware products, and we went from a supplier of hardware and software to someone who was embedded in the client,” Savage said. “Radical shifts and changes happened during those years.”

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Tags IBMDavid ThodeyGlen Borehamandrew stevensIBM 100th birthday

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