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Monday, March 06, 2006

IBM Research & The Changing Ecosystem

Last week, I heard Steve Mills say in Singapore that IBM is spending close to 1.5 billion dollars on SOA related research( that may include some consultant costs as well) – Coincidentally , BEA is seen as the leader in SOA. Paul Horn, the IBM research honcho says that one of his problem is to divide a $5 billion to $6 billion yearly research budget across hardware, software and increasingly services. It is interesting to see that the distribution mix has changed over time. IBM, is after the biggest recipients of patents. But as we covered here earlier, the simple fact is that R&D spending is an input, not a measure of efficiency & it may be a fallacy to equate patents with innovation. It is an interesting thing to read his perspective when he differentiate IBM’s research from that of Microsoft. In his own words,

“We have a very different corporate culture and corporate focus than Microsoft. IBM would like to think of itself as sort of a major player in the open communities. We really think of ourselves as helping others use our IP & Patents,helping open communities within which we operate and flourish. Microsoft is sort of where we were at 15 or 20 years ago. They are manically focused on how they will build their next generation of their application suites and how they will maintain the Wintel duopoly and how they will maintain Windows position. That's perfectly understandable given where their company is, but we have a completely different focus “.
Well- All I can say is that despite the excellent pedigree and the spend levels, I see that others are definitely moving faster and laying a swath of innovative footprints in several areas. IBM's list of lost opportunities in emerging areas appear to be very high. I fully agree with the perspective of Kevin Schofield on this theme,as related to IBM and particularly liked the set of questions that he thinks Paul Horn ought to answer.

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