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People: Sam Palmisano - IBM's guide, India's friend
Monday, 27th December 2010
Earlier this year Sam Palmisano, 59, quashed all rumours of retirement. He told investors he �wasn�t going anywhere�. Retirement is somewhat customary at IBM at the age of 60. On the contrary, he is busy marketing his grand idea of a �Smarter Planet�, an instrumented world in which 70 percent of the global population will be urban dwellers by 2050 and where devices, people and cities will all be connected.

At a time when no information technology company gave India a chance, Palmisano�s leadership created an outsourcing story in India, for India, says Arvind Mahajan, an executive director at KPMG India, referring to the $700 million IBM-Bharti deal of 2004. That model has been exported to Malaysia and to Africa. Credit Palmisano with seeing the �emerging giants hypothesis� � that the next generation of multinationals would come from emerging economies � well before anybody else did. Today, owing to many of these moves, IBM expects emerging markets, which account for 21 percent of its revenue, to reach 25 percent by 2015. Last year saw IBM dominate the telecom sector in India.

Given the stolid nature of IBM, Palmisano�s decision now appears like a huge punt. By making India the nerve centre for servicing 170 local markets through its global delivery network, it not only achieved its biggest ever non-linear growth, but also found an enviable head-start in one of the fastest growing emerging markets.

�Sam has visited India several times, he has developed a close relationship with Sunil Mittal� Now Bharti goes to Africa, and IBM goes with it,� says Mahajan, who, as a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant came to IBM when it acquired the consultancy in 2002. Mahajan recalls how IBM rallied millions of dollars and 14 months of meticulous planning behind its first telecom deal in India.
Publication : Forbes India
TAGS : people  ibm  


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