Shakespeare described seven ages of man. I have often toyed with the idea of doing the same thing for corporations. But corporations so far defy easy categorisation and I?ve failed miserably. IBM, however, seems a good place to start. One year after making some basic promises at its business partners get-together in San Diego, California, IBM has yet to fulfil one of them.
Corporations often renege on promises ? deadlines for new versions of software, for example, have often been allowed to drift by months or years. Although it happens less often now, it still occurs in Cupertino and Seattle. And the news that IBM has not yet created the promised Notes database for its business partners in time for the next get-together is a bit of a let down. But does it mean a structural problem with Lotus or is it just the old IBM we know and love?
It is certainly a blow to any aspirations that IBM had to expand its channel with a really international access-point for business partners. It is also a blow to any attempt to create global terms and conditions.
The business partner bash in Florida this week will be an interesting one because the Notes database is just the first of three promises that IBM has welshed on. It promised instant access to the data and to create global Ts&Cs. For IBM to say it cannot meet its promises because of ?the political situation at IBM? is like an MP saying he cannot legislate because he?s too busy playing politics. Politics is the lifeblood of any corporation and everyone has to accept that this is the water they have to swim in. Or else they will drown.
The debacle sheds interesting light on Lou Gerstner?s plight within the company. Having bullied IBM into buying Notes, he now seems powerless to get the company to do anything useful with it. Therefore he is up to his elbows in a bitter inner power struggle which, it seems, leaves 7,500 people in Florida with lots of questions and no answers.
If there are seven ages of the corporation, IBM is staggering towards the channel equivalent of middle-age. No one doubts its commitment, but the delay between promise and implementation is leaving many feeling that it?s time for change at the top. Whether that results in Shakespearean-type tragedy or comedy in the Florida sunshine is in the hands of 7,500 ?partners?.
Adept says latest purchase will push revenue beyond £50m
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant