Revival Inc: IBM’s Rometty Makes a Quiet Bet On India
Big Blue CEO, in a low-profile visit, met employees to discuss plans to push growth
Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty, IBM’s chief executive officer, conveyed a message of tough love to employees in India during a low-profile visit to Bangalore last week. Rometty, 56, who is trying to win over Wall Street’s sceptical investors about her efforts to reinvigorate the $100-billion company, spoke about India’s rising importance as she implements her gameplan, employees who heard her said. “If you are uncomfortable with what’s going on now in IBM, that’s how I want you to stay. That’s the only way we will transform this company together,” an employee recounted her as saying.
Rometty, who travelled in a private jet to India’s technology capital, had dinner with a select group of women executives of IBM India on May 6. The next day she addressed a town hall meeting with the top 100 employees of IBM in India.
After eight straight quarters of revenue decline, Rometty is facing pressure from investors keen to better understand the direction in which Big Blue is heading. On Wednesday, she will be explaining to analysts her strategy of betting heavily on emerging technology areas such as cloud computing and data analytics. Emerging markets, including India are expected to contribute 30% of its revenue by 2015, up from around 23% currently.
This was her third visit to India since becoming IBM’s ninth CEO in 2012, underscoring the importance of the country in her turnaround plans. IBM employed 164,800 employees in India at the end of March this year. “IBM's senior management was here to reinforce the strategy and imperatives with the team in India. IBM India is a microcosm of IBM delivering the full breadth of IBM capabilities to its clients,” the company said in a statement to ET. Rometty shared plans to set up a new cloud data centre in Bangalore as part of the company's multi-billiondollar push to fend off rivals Amazon and Google. The new centre will be part of Softlayer, the cloud storage company IBM acquired for $2 billion earlier this year.
“Surprisingly, unlike her last visit when she met with top customers including Sunil Mittal and Aditya Birla, there were no external meetings this time,” added another source. India, and Bangalore in particular, have always been high on the scale of importance for IBM. In 2007, Sam Palmisano announced $6 billion worth of investment in the country, riding high after signing what became an over $2 billion outsourcing contract with India’s biggest phone company Bharti Airtel.
ON A MISSION IBM chief Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty