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Posted by Erica Driver on October 11, 2007
by Erica Driver.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology, was speaking from experience this morning during his interview by Wall Street Journal Columnist Walt Mossberg at the BIF-3 collaborative innovation summit. By a near-death experience, Wladawsky-Berger was referring to what IBM went through when Bill Gates founded Microsoft and the PC took off. Another example interviewer Mossberg raised during the conversation was Apple, which was in terrible financial straits in the mid 90s and has risen from the ashes to become today’s darling in the consumer electronics and digital music markets. Wladawsky-Berger said that near-death experiences open up the mind to new experiences – they “clean the brain.” These experiences force people to think in new ways and look for new opportunities. For IBM, the Internet became the lifeboat and the company clutched onto it. Later came Linux and other technologies.
I would contend that IBM went through this again more recently, in the Lotus group. Lotus may have had a near-death experience somewhere around 2004, when Microsoft’s market share in messaging and collaboration began to increase, some Lotus Notes/Domino customers began to jump ship, and Lotus revenue growth was at a low. The lifeboat for IBM’s Lotus group is enterprise Web 2.0. This new wave of technology is IBM’s opportunity to change the game, to innovate and deliver solutions to customers that allow organizations to transform the way people innovate, collaborate, and -- in general -- work.
One of the most important technologies in this mix is the 3D Internet. While many are skeptical (as Mossberg put it this morning, referring to Second Life, “What does fake people using fake money, flying on magic carpets and building little islands have to do with business?”), my view is that the 3D Internet will have as big an impact on business and work as the 2D Internet (the World Wide Web) did. Maybe even bigger. Irving Wladawsky-Berger seems to be of like mind -- here is some of what he had to share today: