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Interview with Chen Liming, head of IBM Greater China: we are driving on the freeway while changing the tire.

via:博客园     time:2018/9/21 13:37:06     readed:389


Text / Tencent Technology Sun Shi

From February 2015 to the present, Apple's market value has exceeded $1 trillion. Google's AlphaGo has already competed with humans in two competitions … … for the veteran technology giant IBM, it has experienced many more than three years.

In February 2015, Chen Liming left the oil company BP and joined IBM to become the head of a new generation of IBM Greater China. He was also the first head of Greater China in the history of IBM in China in 39 years.

At that time, IBM was experiencing a dilemma of 11 consecutive quarterly revenue declines. Foreign companies were embarrassed in China, and it was not an exaggeration to describe Chen Liming at the time of danger. IBM said that Chen Liming's responsibilities focus on nurturing, strengthening and expanding IBM's extensive cooperation in China's business ecosystem and promoting IBM's business development in Greater China.

Three and a half years have passed, perhaps to the time of the "interim exam". According to the latest financial report, IBM's second-quarter revenue was US$20.03 billion, up 4% year-on-year, and net profit was US$2.44 billion, up 3% year-on-year. According to Chen Liming, the performance trend of Greater China is basically the same as that of the global market. This means that Greater China has achieved growth in both revenue and profit, and a large number of large enterprises have entered the IBM package. There are a large number of Chinese giants such as banking, manufacturing, energy, and retail. With this, you can give Chen Liming a higher score.

Recently, Chen Liming accepted an exclusive interview with Tencent Technology. In the dialogue, Chen Liming elaborated on the transformation of IBM Greater China in the past three years and answered questions about the transformation of the outside world.

“3+3 strategy” landing is not easy, but we did it

Chen Liming feels that IBM has been undergoing an unprecedented transformation for the past five years and is more difficult than any transition in history. It's like changing a tire while driving on a highway. Because IBM is a vendor serving enterprise customers, we are responsible for the continued business operations of these business customers' critical business: ensuring that banks operate normally, the railways operate on time, and airlines take off and land normally, because this is behind IBM. The system is doing security.

In the face of such challenges, Chen Liming proposed the 3+3 strategy at the beginning of his tenure, namely three strategic pillars + three strategic fulcrums. According to Chen Liming's plan, the three strategic pillars include: continue to consolidate the core business, which is IBM's traditional hardware, software, technical services, consulting services, etc.; medium-term advancement plans, including cloud, big data, social, mobile, security, Emerging businesses such as the Internet of Things, and technical cooperation programs for the Chinese market; in the long run, they are boldly exploring and breaking the border, allowing the world's cutting-edge technology to reach the Chinese market, including cognitive computing and cutting-edge chip technology.

In addition, Chen Liming also proposed three strategic fulcrums for internal change, trust, cultural reshaping and streamlining of processes. Trust means that IBM wants to build trust with Chinese governments, partners, customers and even employees; culture wants IBM to become more agile; streamlining processes is to enable teams to respond quickly to market and customer needs.

Chen Liming admits that if all of them have listened to the instructions from the headquarters, there may be many things that can't be done, so sometimes there is a little courage to do something different. This is called a common but differentiated strategy. After all, China is more than 10,000 kilometers away from the United States. We have local markets, local customers, local policy environment, and local operating conditions. Many things are different from the United States and even many other countries around the world. At this time, we must have The difference is to make a bold exploration.

In the past three years, under the impetus of Chen Liming, IBM senior leaders have improved communication with the Chinese government, which undoubtedly accelerated the process of IBM's strategy in China's “3+3” strategy. In September 2017, IBM signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Electronics to form a joint venture to provide Watson Health-related solutions to the Chinese market to address issues related to chronic disease management, population health, and clinical decision support. On September 8, 2017, IBM and Inspur Electronic Information Industry Co., Ltd. signed a strategic cooperation to establish a joint venture company to develop, produce and sell servers based on open POWER technology. In May this year, the two parties jointly established Inspur Business Machine Co., Ltd. It has been officially put into operation.

The simplified process of the three pivots is Chen Liming's most talked about, “As of last week's data, we have simplified 197 processes, and this data is changing every week. Simplifying the process did not affect our compliance, and even improved our compliance to some extent.

Earlier this year, IBM CEO Luo Ruilan announced that IBM has achieved business transformation and is now entering the acceleration phase. In 2017, “strategic business” accounted for 46% of revenue, and cloud computing revenue reached more than 17 billion, which is similar to the first and second companies. According to the latest data in 2Q2018, the strategic business revenues including cloud computing, security, and artificial intelligence in the past 12 months were US$39 billion, up 15% year-on-year and accounting for 48% of the company's revenue. Among them, cloud computing business revenue was US$18.5 billion, up 23% year-on-year, and 47% of strategic business was contributed by cloud computing.

For such figures, Chen Liming told Tencent Technology that IBM's Greater China cloud computing, big data, mobile social, security and other businesses have also reached a similar proportion, which is a remarkable achievement. Chen Liming emphasized that IBM has entered such a new field and has undergone great changes compared with three years ago. Therefore, the transformation of IBM Greater China has also been completed.


In the face of such achievements, Chen Liming said that the “3+3” strategy has been played for three years and played a very important role. The six quadrants have achieved very good results, and IBM will reassess this strategy. Now, in the "refresh phase", inject new elements, increase new content, but the basic framework will remain unchanged, continue to consolidate core business, including hardware, cognitive computing, cloud computing, etc.; spare no effort to promote new growth Plans, such as artificial intelligence, Watson Health, Internet of Things, blockchain business processes; bold exploration, promote cutting-edge technology, the introduction of smart supply chain, car networking, quantum experience, the smallest computer and other latest technology into China. Continue to promote business integration, talent development, process simplification, etc.

The century-old technology giant is still very "tidal"

What do you think of when you mention IBM? More than a decade ago, you might have thought that it sold the computer business to Lenovo; in recent years, IBM refreshed us to know a series of cutting-edge black technology, commercial quantum computing system IBM Q, the world's smallest computer, 5 nanometer chip And its artificial intelligence <; Watson”.

If Alpha Go refreshes your knowledge of artificial intelligence, don't forget that the first artificial intelligence to beat humans on the board is called “dark blue”, which was developed by IBM; the first one is In the American quiz, Jeopardy's artificial intelligence against humans is called Watson. In 2017, Project Debater was launched, and IBM's artificial intelligence and humans began to debate. Therefore, don't underestimate the technical heritage of a century-old technology company. In particular, IBM is involved in many frontier areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, cloud services, etc.: “The 107-year-old IBM is still in the tide. ”

2018 is a year of blockchain rise, but it seems that in addition to speculative currency, the application of blockchain in the commercial field is lacking. In the dialogue with Tencent Technology, Chen Liming introduced IBM's many cases in the blockchain field. IBM and Wal-Mart have launched a joint food safety blockchain research project that will query food production processes and processes in a matter of seconds.

In addition, for the hot artificial intelligence technology, IBM is focusing on medical aspects. Chen Liming once stated in public how to use artificial intelligence to solve the problems of auxiliary medical treatment and inclusive medical care in the medical and health field. This is a big topic that IBM is paying attention to, and it is also necessary to introduce such technology and platform into China. At present, IBM's partners have already deployed Watson's oncology solutions in dozens of hospitals to help doctors provide services for cancer patients.

When referring to Watson Health, Chen Liming said that when talking about a very rude, some reports are superficial and not professional. Seeing a technology can't just look at the surface of the flower boxing legs, but also look at the real technological strength behind it. Watson Health includes a total of six modules, including health management, disease management, genetics and cancer, population management, and more than 150 solutions in six modules. It is a very complete platform for health care. Many companies are advancing some projects in artificial intelligence health care, but they can come up with a complete platform. If IBM is not alone, it is one of the few.

It can be seen that IBM has also explored a path in the application of cutting-edge technology. In the words of Chen Liming, IBM, as a veteran technology company, is constantly rejuvenating in a new era and a new environment, constantly breaking through itself and maintaining a strong innovation capability. According to the latest data, there were 9043 IBM patents in 2017, leading the US patent list for 25 consecutive years. In 2017, nearly half of these patents were pioneering advances in artificial intelligence, network security, blockchain, and quantum computing. These huge patent data from IBM are the driving force behind IBM's business growth.

Chen Liming said, “Boldly explore the cutting-edge technology landing”, which currently does not look like the pillar of the business, may not bring us huge cash flow. But I think this is the most important pillar. It is precisely because there is such a pillar that has changed many of our ways of thinking and ways of doing things. It has a great impact on us.

In explaining the three gradients of the "3+3" strategy, Chen Liming believes that a gradient transports a new project to another gradient, past the cutting-edge technology pillar on the right, and once it becomes a landing project, we incorporate it. In the vigorously promoted growth plan, once the mainstream operating income is formed, we will incorporate it into the core business. In the past, there was a “Green Horizon” project, which used to be in the “Advanced Technology”, which was later placed in the “New Growth Plan”, which has now entered the “core business” field. Business can achieve sustainable development, rather than insisting on a certain business. When this business is not working, the whole company's business will be greatly affected. Why do these three gradients make the company do it? Continue to develop.

As technology applications mature, moving from right to left, and finally into a core business, contributes to IBM's ongoing cash flow. IBM's business logic for high-value businesses can be seen in the strategy of “3+3”.

Written at the end

At the beginning we said that Chen Liming’s appointment was “between life and danger”, and after taking office, the challenge brought him was beyond the previous imagination. Chen Liming felt that IBM's work was interesting and challenging for him, but it did bring changes and influences to the company and contributed. This is the greatest satisfaction.

The industry is currently at the threshold of change, the Internet dividend is gradually disappearing, and light asset companies, including traditional Internet giants, are beginning to move to the next line. We are witnessing the era of “traditional business disruptors” defined by the “Internet”. The traditional giants of the model will lead the next wave of innovation. IBM, which specializes in enterprise-level business, has more opportunities to make a big difference.

A great company needs time to test, it needs to go through the storm, and a great company has to go through several lives to survive. After taking a solid first step, IBM's new round of transformation is still going on, and Chen Liming is still on the road.

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