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“The upshot: Apple, Amazon and Facebook look like good long-term bets. Dell, Cisco and Microsoft do not. The jury is out on Oracle and Google.” – Economist 9 June 2011

Not quite what I expected from one of the concluding remarks in an Economist article celebrating IBM’s 100 years in business.

The nub of the article is that being a service lead company services far outweighs providing items/hardware/things. IBM – for those of us old enough to remember – almost went bust
“in 1993 before Lou Gerstner realised that the best way to package technology for use by businesses was to focus on services”. Having ideas and helping customers innovate is always a better idea than pushing tin. I remember my time in a large telecom company I worked with where it was drummed into us to think about our customers customers. Thinking in this way changes your perspective on what you provide. Less hardware and more value.

Hvaing said that it’s okay to provide things (eg an Apple iPhone) but it’s about wrapping them with uniqueness and value-add such that it’s the service or the way it’s delivered that makes a difference. The difference between the latest Nokia smartphone compared to Apple’s? It’s certainly not the speed of the chip (hardware) but the way you interact (software/service) with your end-user that brings people back for more.

Seems pretty obvious to me but the article continues to talk about Microsoft. A software company right? So they should be ok? Apparently not:
“Microsoft (1975) is hugely dependent on Windows, which is its answer to everything. But software for a PC may not be the best choice to run inside a phone or a car. All these firms are wedded to specific products, not deeper philosophies, and are having trouble navigating technological shifts.”

So perhaps not even being in services is safe and for longevity, we should all think about having “deeper philosphies” about what we do and grow from there.

For the full article click here

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