Bangalore: Holding forth visions of everything from a handheld that can store 1,000 movies to smart cities where energy, transportation, healthcare and education are transformed by information technology (IT), IBM India Pvt. Ltd managing director Shanker Annaswamy on Thursday kicked off International Business Machines Corp.’s centennial celebrations in the country.
IBM was founded on 16 June 1911, in the US. It now has about 425,000 employees globally and annual revenues of around $100 billion (Rs 4.5 trillion). At least a quarter of these employees are said to be in India, an estimate IBM has never officially confirmed.
The company does not disclose India-specific financial numbers either.
As part of its celebrations in India, half of IBM’s employees in the country will pledge a minimum of eight hours of voluntary social service. In addition, a part of IBM’s planned $12 million-worth of grants globally to support the celebrations will be earmarked for India.
A couple of years ago, IBM outlined four focus areas—growth markets, analytics, next-generation data centres and cloud, and smarter planet—with clearly laid out financial objectives to be achieved by 2015. These areas would continue to receive investments even as IBM attempts to look ahead to the next 100 years, Annaswamy said.
IBM’s facilities in India are a microcosm of the larger company, spanning hardware, software, services and research and development, he added.
“For me to execute the idea of a smart planet, I need all of IBM’s capabilities to come together. And that is happening today in India,” he said.
IBM has offices in 22 cities in India, including 14 small cities where the company moved into as part of its thrust on the small and medium business segment. In 2010, IBM launched so-called virtual branch offices in 34 cities, adding 700 clients in the mid-market segment.
IBM’s presence in India dates back to 1951, when it set up a hardware manufacturing unit in Mumbai. But the story of its growth in the country began with its post-liberalization re-entry in 1992 with a joint venture with the Tata group.
IBM India was launched in 1999. Its India Software Lab came in 2001.
The year 2004 marked a big change for IBM, when it sold its PC business to China’s Lenovo Group Ltd.
In India, it acquired business process outsourcing company Daksh e-Services Pvt. Ltd. That was also the year it signed a landmark deal with Bharti Airtel Ltd for handling the telecom company’s information technology needs.
This was replicated three years later with Vodafone Essar Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
“IBM today is as much an Indian company as any other, given its Indian clientele, and its India presence in terms of both employees and functions. And globally, it has always reinvented itself when necessary and kept up with the times. When it talks about the next 100 years, it has the credibility to do so,” said Nitin Khanapurkar, executive director, IT advisory, consulting firm KPMG.
IBM has a broad portfolio with services in the travel, transport, media and entertainment spaces. It counts among its clients the Indian Railways, Jet Airways India Ltd, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Delhi and Hyderabad airports, and the State Bank of India, Canara Bank and HDFC Bank Ltd.
In India, according to researcher IDC, IBM is the market leader in domestic IT services, non-X86 unix servers and external disk storage, Annaswamy said.
IBM’s centennial is being driven globally by three themes: reinventing the modern corporation, pioneering the science of information, and making the world better, Annasway said.
Citing an example for the third, he said computer users could subscribe to a global volunteer network where surplus computing power on individual machines could be harnessed to work on the human genome or HIV/AIDS research.