IBM made significant progress in its efforts to transform its business last year, chief executive Ginni Rometty claimed in her annual letter to investors.
In the missive, Rometty detailed a number of "bold moves" Big Blue made in 2014 that were designed to enable it to "seize upon the major shifts that are reordering our industry".
"[A year ago] we knew we faced a critical year of transformation," she said.
"It proved to be just that. The work of transforming IBM continues, and much remains to be done. But I am pleased to report that we made significant progress and built momentum in 2014."
Despite being under fire from angry employees and having suffered 11 consecutive quarters of declining sales, Rometty insisted IBM is continuing to deliver value to investors, with 2014 marking the 19th consecutive year Big Blue has raised its dividend. It returned $4.3bn (£2.85bn) and $13.7bn to shareholders last year in dividends and gross share repurchases, she said.
Spooling back a year, Rometty said IBM faced an "urgent decision" as to whether to stick with the status quo or move with the times, towards areas such as cloud and big data.
IBM's bold moves last year included pouring $1bn into cognitive computing arm Watson, $1.2bn into expanding SoftLayer cloud centres around the world and $1bn into creating IBM Bluemix, its cloud-platform-as-a-service for software developers. Rometty also highlighted IBM's "landmark" partnership with Apple (Rometty is pictured below right, with Apple chief executive Tim Cook) to bring mobility to the enterprise.
Big Blue's "strategic imperatives" of cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security generated $25bn in revenues last year, up 16 per cent. They now generate 27 per cent of IBM's revenues, up from 13 per cent five years ago, Rometty said.
At the same time, IBM completed or announced the divestiture of three "empty calorie" businesses in 2014 – including its x86 business – that a year earlier drove $7bn in revenue.
For the coming year, Rometty indicated IBM would shift an additional $4bn of spending into data, cloud and engagement.
Open ecosystems and partnerships will also be key to Big Blue's future innovation, she said.
"This is a significant new element of our growth strategy," Rometty explained. "We will add to and scale partnerships with companies such as Apple, Twitter, SAP, Tencent and now SoftBank. Also, the IBM Watson Ecosystem is rapidly expanding, with 4,000 companies in the pipeline."
Rometty claimed IBM's position "at the intersection of technology and business" enables it to "change the way the world works".
"A new world is taking shape before our eyes, remade by data, rewritten in code and growing smarter every day," she concluded.
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