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Not the same old IBM

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Las Vegas—IBM Corp., which has traditionally been known as a legacy hardware provider, is a totally different company today with its products, services and customer interactions, said Matt Preschern, VP-small and medium business and ecosystem communications at IBM, during a keynote speech on Day 2 of the Business Marketing Association show.

“We are not the old IBM, where you just buy a box,” Preschern said. “We are a very different company today. For us as a company, it is of paramount importance for us to understand who this give-me customer is, what they’re looking for, and how we market and communicate with them.”

Preschern, who has been with IBM for 10 years, said the company has changed dramatically in the past five years, acquiring more than 60 companies, of which more than 40 were software companies.

Other key indicators of how IBM’s business has changed: More than 40% of total revenue is now generated by software, and about 60% of revenue comes from outside the U.S.

IBM’s customers are also changing. According to a study of 180 CIOs conducted last year by IBM, the No. 1 issue keeping them up at night is IT-led business transformation (20%), followed by IT governance and budget issues (19%). At the bottom of the list of concerns was IT implementation, cited by only 3% of CIOs.

Preschern said IBM’s business customers have other needs. They demand expertise and insights, are constantly looking for new ideas to transform their existing business models, demand personalized attention and customized solutions, seek open, collaborative business models, expect delivery excellence and demand tangible business impact and timely ROI.

To address the changing needs of the marketplace, IBMs has launched dozens of initiatives that focus on the new breed of customer, including CEO and CIO global leadership forums, the use of customer testimonials to tell IBM’s story, holding “jamming” sessions for mass collaboration (which have resulted in at least 10 new businesses for IBM), and engaging customers and employees with Web 2.0.

“The days where you control your message are gone, and they’re not coming back,” Preschern said. “The best you can do is influence the message and have a distinct point of view in an industry context.”

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