Nancy Kramer embraces change as chief evangelist at IBM iX


When Resource/Ammirati was sold to IBM two years ago, it became part of IBM iX. The design and consulting division works with clients as a digital agency through 38 global studios, including the one in Columbus, and employs 15,000 people. Instead of chairwoman at the company she built from the ground up, Nancy Kramer was now chief evangelist at IBM iX.

“It’s a little hard to go from being the CEO, the leader of an organization, to not being the leader anymore,” she says. “So, letting go of that can be a challenging thing. But it can also be a rewarding thing. You’re learning a new way to work and learning, perhaps, a different way to perceive yourself.”

Kramer believes she’s learned more over the past two years than in the previous 10 — whether it was a new process or technology, or something about herself, her clients and the world. She compares it to learning a new language.

It also goes back to this notion — like it says in Max DePree’s “Leadership Is an Art” — that leaders lead themselves, she says.

She tries to clear her mind and remember that after 35 years she’s not the leader any longer. Instead, she’s part of a bigger entity, which requires a different perspective. She’ll ask herself: How do I lead myself and how do I lead the folks who are a part of this journey with me?

Luckily, Kramer says one of her more natural leadership skills is empathy and emotional intelligence.

“I’ve always been a naturally curious person and an empathetic person, and I think that has served me well because I find all the different people that I’m meeting, I’m very curious about them. I love to learn about their stories. I love to learn about their skills, which are inevitably very different than mine. And so, again, it’s just opened up a whole new world for all of us,” Kramer says.

She’s traveling more, too — spending time in New York City, where IBM iX is headquartered — but still has her desk in Columbus.

“I would say that on one hand, it’s very different and my perspective and my aperture has widened tremendously. And then on the other hand, there’s a level of familiarity to it,” Kramer says.

Reflecting the same culture

Many people don’t realize that the majority of IBM’s business today is services. It’s not the hardware monolith it was. Kramer has also found people are surprised when she tells them IBM, which collectively employs 400,000 people, is a highly entrepreneurial organization.

IBM is a collection of leaders, she says, so it’s incumbent upon them to lead themselves.

“You really need to figure out where your swim lane is and just dive in the pool. I’ve yet to have anybody say no — within reason, of course,” Kramer says.

That entrepreneurial culture and other values of IBM are a mirror reflection of Resource and Kramer, and that’s really what drove her decision to sell. That, plus increased opportunities for Resource’s clients and the Columbus community.

IBM enters HR web applications market with Kenexa buy

ARMONK, N.Y., Mon Aug 27, 2012 – IBM Corp. will buy Kenexa Corp. for about $1.3 billion to enter the human resources software market in a move that would likely increase competition with Oracle Corp and SAP AG who recently bought into the sector.

The deal underpins the importance that slow-growing technology giants place on faster-growing, web-based software makers, whose products are less vulnerable to the economic downturn as there are no upfront costs for program licenses, dedicated hardware or installation.

Germany’s SAP bought Kenexa’s competitor SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion in cash last December, while Oracle bought rival Taleo Corp. for about $1.9 billion in February.

The two companies made other cloud purchases, including RightNow Technologies and Ariba Inc.

Kenexa shares jumped nearly 42 percent, equaling the premium offered, to a life high of $45.92 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Shares of peer Cornerstone OnDemand Inc were up 7 percent at $26.82 in afternoon trading.

The acquisition suggests that IBM is ready to find a foothold in the fiercely competitive market for delivering business applications via the web.

It brings the company face-to face against close partner SAP and rivals Oracle and Inc., the largest maker of web-based software in a crowded market.

Buffett builds $10.7 billion stake in IBM, tied for largest share

OMAHA, Neb. ― Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has accumulated a 5.5 percent stake in IBM, the billionaire investor’s biggest bet in the technology field he has historically shunned.

Buffett, in a CNBC interview on Monday, said he had bought about 64 million shares of IBM at a cost of $10.7 billion. Berkshire started buying the shares in March, with a goal of building a $10 billion position, he said.

Buffett said IBM did not know that he was building a stake and that the company was finding out about his investment for the first time as he disclosed it on CNBC.

IBM spokesmen were not immediately available to comment.

The legendary investor said he has always looked at IBM’s annual report — his preferred method of identifying companies to invest in — but this year “I read it through a different lens.”

Buffett said follow-on conversations with various technology executives throughout the Berkshire conglomerate convinced him to start building the stake.

Berkshire is due to make a quarterly report of its equity holdings on Monday night.

According to Thomson Reuters data, a 5.5 percent position in IBM would tie Buffett with State Street Global Advisors for the largest stake in the company.

IBM shares rose nearly 1 percent in premarket trading. Since early March, when Buffett started building his position, IBM shares are up about 17 percent, against a 3 percent decline for the S&P 500.

One place where Buffett is not investing is European banks.

Buffett, who put $5 billion into Bank of America Corp earlier this year, comes up whenever there is talk of a large European bank needing to raise capital, particularly in the current environment of writedowns on sovereign debt.

But he told CNBC that he would need to understand European banks better before investing in them, and that he has not yet seen an investment opportunity there in which he wants to take part.

The “Oracle of Omaha” and Berkshire Hathaway chief executive said he expects Europe’s economy to show improvement 10 years from now, but getting there will be difficult.

IBM taps Virginia Rometty to succeed Palmisano as CEO

ARMONK, N.Y. ― IBM global sales chief Virginia Rometty will take over as CEO from Sam Palmisano in January, becoming one of the most powerful women in business and technology today.

In taking the helm of the storied industry icon, she makes it the largest U.S. corporation by value to be headed by a woman.

IBM, which over the decades had a reputation of being a strait-laced, plodding, male-dominated business empire, will formally appoint the 54-year-old engineering and computer science graduate its first female CEO on January 1.

The selection went down well with Silicon Valley and Wall Street, especially because the 60-year-old Palmisano — who helped transform Big Blue from a computer hardware company into a global services and software behemoth — is staying on as chairman.

“Given Ginni’s experience running the largest portion of the business by revenue, she was a logical choice,” said Macquarie Securities analyst Brad Zelnick.

Her ascension will set up a rivalry with Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman for the mantle of most powerful woman in technology, mirroring a long-running rivalry between the two companies.

Rometty joins a relatively small circle of top female CEOs, including Whitman, Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi, Xerox’s Ursula Burns, Kraft Foods’ Irene Rosenfeld and DuPont’s Ellen Kullman.

Rometty — who most recently served as senior vice president of global sales — made her mark with the smooth 2002 integration of PriceWaterhouseCooper’s consulting arm, a landmark move that catapulted IBM into the upper echelons of the technology consulting business.

Colleagues say that Rometty, often clad in elegant pastel-colored suits, cut a striking figure in IBM’s staid hallways and impressed co-workers with both her cool-headedness and enthusiasm.

“She exudes energy,” said Nelson Fraiman, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

IBM expands in security software with Q1 Labs purchase

WALTHAM, Mass. ― International Business Machines Corp. said it is to buy Q1 Labs, a privately-held security intelligence software provider, as it looks to tap into a growing market for security software.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, comes amid concerns over cyber security in the wake of high-profile cyber attacks on targets ranging from Sony Corp to the International Monetary Fund.

IBM, which sees the security software and services business as a $94 billion market opportunity, has been buying analytics companies to beef up its security offerings.

In five years, IBM has spent more than $14 billion on 25 deals focused on analytics to help its customers deal with the huge volumes of unstructured data from sources such as social media, biometrics and criminal databases.

In August, it bought British security analytics software firm i2, also for an undisclosed sum, and last month acquired Toronto-based risk analytics software firm Algorithmics for $387 million in cash.

Last year, Intel Corp paid $7.68 billion for data security firm McAfee Inc.

Q1 Labs — which provides software for collecting, storing, analyzing and querying log, threat, vulnerability and risk-related data — will become part of the IBM’s newly-formed security systems division.Q1 Labs, founded in 2001, has more than 1,800 clients globally, and counts Polaris Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, BDC Venture Capital and Globespan Capital Partners among its investors.

Q1 Labs CEO Brendan Hannigan will head up the new IBM division, helping clients tackle corporate security breaches, growing mobile security concerns and advanced security threats.

IBM shares were down 1.2 percent at $171.20 in morning trade on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, in line with the broader share market.

IBM unveils software and new services to exploit petabytes of data

ARMONK, N.Y. ― As companies seek to gain real-time insight from diverse types of data, IBM has unveiled new software and services to help clients more effectively gain competitive insight, optimize infrastructure and better manage resources to address Internet-scale data.

Organizations can integrate and analyze tens-of-petabytes of data in its native format and gain critical intelligence in sub-second response times.

IBM also announced a $100 million investment for continued research on technologies and services that will enable clients to manage and exploit data as it continues to grow in diversity, speed and volume.

The initiative will focus on research to drive the future of massive scale analytics, through advancing software, systems and services capabilities.

The news comes on the heels of the 2011 IBM Global CIO Study where 83 percent of 3,000 CIOs surveyed said applying analytics and business intelligence to their IT operations is the most important element of their strategic growth plans over the next three to five years.The news further enables Smarter Computing innovations realized by designing systems that incorporate Big Data for better decision making, and optimized systems tuned to the task and managed in a cloud.

According to recent IT industry analyst reports, enterprise data growth over the next five years is estimated to increase by more than 650 percent. Eighty percent of this data is expected to be unstructured.

The new analytics capabilities pioneered by IBM Research will enable chief information officers to construct specific, fact-based financial and business models for their IT operations. Traditionally, CIOs have had to make decisions about their IT operations without the benefit of tools that can help interpret and model data.