In Frank Herberts great science fiction novel, Dune, the Fremen had the advantage that they could live anywhere including the many desert regions of the planet. There secret was Thumpers that allowed them to not only detect but also summon the dangerously huge SandWorms. This ability allowed the Fremen to track and control the most important trends in their desert dominated world. IBM is missing its Thumpers.
There is no doubt that the company is acutely aware of the trend that computing technology in ever more sophisticated automated forms dominates innovation and economic opportunity. Their many ads in the trade press and on TV clearly indicate that. But IBM has abandoned its Thumpers. Starting with former CEO Lou Gerstner and completed by CEO Sam Palmisano IBM has gotten out of all the major consumer marketplaces it was in formerly[printing, desktops, laptops, etc]. But Consumers are the Thumpers of IT innovation and have been so since the 1970’s. They lead well ahead of almost all organizations the adoption of new, people-facing IT technologies. IT is constantly playing catch up.
So now when I watch those IBM ads with their people proclaiming with enthusiasm all the advanced projects they are working on during the Sunday morning Meet the Press or This Week news programs, I sort of wonder – “yeah I know you are working on new ways of delivering energy efficiency or making hospitals more IT effective – but what level of the state of the art in technology are you aware of or allowed to bring to bear on these problems?”