Palmisano in PH: Keep moving to the future

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Sam Palmisano led the first high-level ?Think Forum? in the country on Wednesday, Sept. 12, with Pres. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III delivering the keynote speech at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. [caption id="attachment_4779" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="IBM chair Sam Palmisano with Pres. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III during the ?Think Forum? on Wednesday at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. (Photo credit: Malacanang) "][/caption] The visit of Palmisano, who is the first IBM chair to travel to the Philippines, coincided with the 75th anniversary of the company?s local operations. In his message, Palmisano said the IBM Philippines has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a one-room office in 1937. ?If there is one lesson on leadership that the 75 years of IBM Philippines teaches us, it is that you must always keep moving to the future,? he said. Aquino, who also attended the last Think Forum in New York last year, cited IBM?s foresight in changing its business model to cope with the times. ?? [I]n the 1980s, IBM had to contend with the growth of new players in the industry, for example, both Microsoft and Intel. Then people wondered what would become of IBM?if your company still had a future. But look at where we are today: celebrating the 75th anniversary of IBM Philippines, only one of the many IBM locations all over the world,? he said. ?You changed your business model and adapted to the shifting needs and challenges of the market, and now, you are stronger than ever. Instead of fearing the unknown, your leaders saw an opportunity to bet on the Philippines and to bet on the strengths of your company. Today, we can all agree: those bets have indeed paid off,? Aquino said. Below is the full text of Palmisano’s speech: It?s a real pleasure for me to be here to celebrate IBM Philippines 75th anniversary. I would like to welcome all of you, who have joined us to celebrate this significant milestone in our company?s history. In particular, I would like to extend a very special and warm welcome to our distinguished and esteemed guest, President Benigno Aquino III. Thank you Mr. President. We are honored you could join us. It is a true honor for me to be able to be here and thank all of you in person ? our employees and our partners here in the Philippines, who have shared your expertise? And especially our clients and the country?s government leaders? who have trusted us day in, day out over the years with your time, business and partnership and really helped bring IBM to this important moment. Thank you all for your support and thank you for joining us today. IBM Philippines has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a one-room office in 1937. Through the decades, IBMers born and raised here in the Philippines have committed themselves tirelessly to innovation and to the country?s growth agenda. Today, our organization in the Philippines spreads out across 13 different locations and works with thousands of clients and hundreds of business partners. And our commitment to innovation is stronger than ever. This can be seen day after day in our work to advance business analytics, BPO and global delivery? It can be seen at the IBM Innovation Center in Quezon City, where IBMers help to nurture skills and develop new technologies for digital infrastructure projects in banking, energy, telecommunications, transportation, retail and government? Or at the newly opened Systems & Technology R&D Lab, where IBMers are addressing critical areas for the country ? such as endemic flooding, traffic congestion, crime and e-governance services. Through these activities, and many more, IBMers in the Philippines are tackling important problems and moving to the future. But that?s nothing new for us. If there is one lesson on leadership that the 75 years of IBM Philippines teaches us, it is that you must always keep moving to the future. It is easy to stick with things that have made you a successful company or institution ? a winning product, a profitable business model. Yet one of the core responsibilities of leadership is to understand when it?s time to change the organization ? and yourself. This brings me back to a time in my own life when I could easily have continued with the status quo and followed the path of least resistance. It was a point in my career when I had to choose between taking the top position in one of IBM?s US divisions? or going to a largely unstructured job here in Asia, in Japan. The easier path was clear. But I chose to look at this as just one stage in a long-term journey ? one from which I would learn more ? and I took the leap. It meant I was going to have to change. I would need to listen more than I talked. I would need to think in terms of ?we,? rather than ?me.? Not the least of it, I would have to function in a complex foreign language! The rest, as they say, is history. My time there was formative. In the end, I learned that you can’t move to the future without changing yourself. That was a valuable lesson ? one that truly came alive for me last year, leading up to IBM?s 100th anniversary as a corporation. Throughout that process we asked ourselves: how can leaders, enterprises and institutions successfully and simultaneously manage their business of the day and build their business of tomorrow? What enables an institution to survive and thrive through decades, much less a century? We thought a lot about this. In essence, it all comes down to one truth: To make an enduring impact over the long term, you have to manage for the long term. This seems simple, yet putting it into practice is a lifetime?s work. Long-term thinking affects almost every aspect of how you lead. And it is anything but safe, steady and conservative. Its rewards are powerful, but to actually achieve them, long-term thinking compels you to confront some fundamental challenges: ? We?ve learned that you should never confuse charisma for leadership. The first job of a leader is to enable the organization to succeed without him or her? and the key to that is to deliberately build a sustainable culture. ? You must deal with the inherent tensions among your constituents ? all of them. Which has primacy? Is it the shareholder? The employee? The customer? The community? We?ve come to see that as a false choice. A lasting enterprise must maintain all. ? You must respond to relentless commoditization. This is an acute issue for the tech industry ? but it actually applies in any field, from commerce to public services. Partly, it means creating new spaces to move into ? for example, whether an individual business or a national government maintains investment in R&D in bad times, as well as in good. This requires a kind of institutional patience, because the upside benefits rarely come in a quarter, or a year? or perhaps even in a decade. ? But it?s not just about what you create. It?s also about what you leave behind. History is a bone pile of enterprises, cities and societies that had great first acts, but were unable to achieve a second. Why? In most cases, it is because they couldn?t break their emotional attachment to what had brought them success in the past. It’s the same thing for governments, for universities, for research institutions, for NGOs. All make tradeoffs among constituencies. All have to resist short-term pressures… the pressures of 90-day earnings, election cycles and perpetual fund-raising drives?All must pursue new innovations to create virtuous cycles for a generation or more. In the end it comes down to this: Whether we are talking about enterprises, institutions or individuals, we must each seek new ground. It applies to all of us. But it is particularly important for leaders today. As we look ahead into the future, it is clear that a remarkable world is opening up before us. Global integration and digital networked technology are changing the way we interact and engage ? with customers, employees, citizens of the cities and countries where we do business. To state the obvious, we have never been more interconnected ? economically, socially and technologically. Our world has become a global system of systems? We have global systems of transportation? of energy? of communications? of finance? of food and water? of commerce? of security and more. This new reality requires new policies, approaches and organizational forms ? regardless of size or location. At the same time, our planet is becoming pervasively instrumented and interconnected, with computation being infused into things nobody would think of as a computer. We?re all aware of the approximately two billion people now on the Internet ? in every part of the planet, thanks to the explosion of mobile technology. But there are also upwards of a trillion interconnected and intelligent objects and organisms ? what some call the Internet of Things. All of this is generating vast stores of information. Last year, the amount of information created and replicated surpassed 1.8 zettabytes and is expected to grow to 75 zettabytes by 2015. Thanks to advanced computation and analytics, we can now make sense of that data in something like real time. This enables very different kinds of insight, foresight and decision-making. These shifts are profound. They represent real progress. And they are all happening now, right before our very eyes. This is what we mean when we talk about the promise of a smarter planet. As I meet with forward-looking clients, IBMers and government leaders ? like President Aquino ? I?m optimistic about this future. And I?m excited for the chance to work towards it alongside a new generation that is smarter, more clear-headed and more hopeful than any I?ve seen. We meet more and more of them every day, around the world and in our clients here in the Philippines. These women and men are not rendered immobile by complexity? or locked into ideological straightjackets? or stuck inside traditional industry or political silos. Quite the contrary. They are diving in and acting. They are innovating, driving progress, and moving continuously towards the future. And thank goodness for that, because the shifts we?re seeing are not cyclical, they?re secular, and the world will be very different on the other side. These shifts will create winners and losers, based primarily on what individual leaders do. So as we celebrate today?s milestone ? the 75th anniversary of IBM Philippines ? the natural response for IBMers? as for our clients? is to look ahead and move to the future. And that, today, is a truly exciting prospect. We have the opportunity to bring about a new golden age of innovation, economic growth and global citizenship. Which is something we can only do together. I can?t wait to get started. Thank you. ]]>

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