IBM—Innovation, Investments Fuel a Transformational Journey

Ocean-going ships offer one of the most commonplace images for describing large enterprise behavior. You know the drill, including allusions to the difficulty of stopping or turning aircraft carriers or oil tankers “on a dime.” Plus, there are the difficulties businesses face from iceberg-like challenges whose dangers are mostly invisible or unknowable.

Such time-worn analogies often collapse into cliché, but the underlying concept has value. Why? Because though a ship may appear to travel in a straight line, the piloting process is one of non-stop motion, making countless adjustments related to constantly shifting tides, currents and circumstances. The task is also anything but rigid. Laid-in courses can be altered to account for changes in plans, and an experienced ship’s company can usually respond to expected and unexpected emergencies.

These points are worth remembering when it comes to analyzing corporate behavior and performance, especially when considering long term trends and transformational issues. They also factor into two recent announcements—its Q4 and full year performance in 2017 and its 25th year of patent leadership.

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NOTE: This column was originally published in the .

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